I'm not going to lie - when I heard that two of my favourite artists were chosen as the spokespeople for M·A·C Makeup's Viva Glam Campaign, I was thrilled. I mean, who better to promote HIV and AIDS awareness (as well as some pretty sick lipstick shades) than Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga? Every cent of the selling price of Viva Glam Lipstick and Lipglass is donated to the M·A·C AIDS Fund to support men, women, and children living with HIV and AIDS, which is pretty awesome. I know, I know, it's not like they cured it or anything, and it's not like being a M·A·C Viva Glam spokesperson is an exclusive club (hell, they chose Fergie last year), but I think that given their places in pop culture history, they're perfect.
For starters, you've got Cyndi Lauper who rose to fame in the 1980's. What else did we learn about in the 1980's? Right. HIV/AIDS. Of course, back then, they thought only gay men got it, but look how far we've come in that thinking. (Well, most of us) She has influenced and empowered an entire generation of women to take no prisoners and along the way, became somewhat of an icon. She founded the True Colors Fund, which raises money for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and I swear that only makes me love her more (even though, like her, I'm straight..but not narrow.
And then there's Gaga. Oh, Lady Gaga..is there anything out there you won't wear? She's a polarizing force of nature - you either love her or hate her, and I love her. There's no doubt that Cyndi had a hand in turning little Stefani Germanotta into Lady Gaga, and for that, I say "Thank you."
But this isn't about their clothes or their makeup, this is about two of my favourite artists using their fame and their love of image to educate women about HIV and AIDS. (Ok, so it is a bit about their makeup). I'm not going to bore you with the stats about women and HIV/AIDS, but I will tell you that women account for almost half of the HIV/AIDS cases around the world. The Viva Glam Campaign (cheekily subtitled "From Our Lips") focuses on helping women living with HIV/AIDS not just in North America, but in other parts of the world, particularly Africa, where AIDS has become pandemic as a result of huge populations of women being infected through rape (a tactic used by soldiers throughout the continent as a means of intimidation)
Given such bleak realities, it almost seems flippant to attach the cause to something as luxurious as a lipstick, but it's not the strangest thing to attach a message to. After all, the target demographic that would purchase the shade named after their favourite is the same demographic that could use having some messages reinforced. For example: AIDS can happen to anyone, and that although people mistakenly think it isn’t a straight-person’s disease, no one is immune. Also important - erasing the stigma attached to the "no condom, no sex issue". All women should carry condoms in their bags. It doesn't make them a slut, it just makes them someone who cares about themselves. You can't always be sure that the guy you're with will happen to have one at his place.
You can say ‘Abstain from sex,’ but the truth is, we are all sexual beings, and people don’t. In a perfect world, maybe, but in 2010, not everyone is abstinent. And remember: just because you are a sexual woman doesn’t mean you are dumb.
Case in point: Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper.