Gloria Steinem’s Beauty Ideals

Plenty of people still think of Gloria Steinem as the tall, comely babe with honey-toned, center-parted hair who decades ago blazed a trail for second-wave feminism wearing aviator glasses perched on the bridge of her nose.

Some of those people may be heartened to learn that, apart from a few steel-gray hairs and creases, Ms. Steinem, who turned 90 in March, looked much the same when she hosted a discussion this month in support of a new marketing campaign for Jones Road, her friend Bobbi Brown’s four-year-old beauty brand.

“I was ‘the pretty one,’” Ms. Steinem said of her early days as a journalist and activist. Back then, she recalled, there was a widely held perception — or a “ridiculous notion,” as she put it — “that feminists were women who couldn’t get men.”

She was reminiscing in her living room on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with Ms. Brown, 67, and a group of women in a range of professions, among them the actress Naomi Watts, who recently started a line of menopause products; Carla Hassan, the chief marketing officer at JPMorgan Chase; and Suleika Jaouad, the documentary film producer and writer who won an Emmy Award for her video series documenting her experiences with cancer for The New York Times.

The women spoke candidly about any number of irksome issues while discussing Ms. Brown’s new campaign for Jones Road, which she started after the expiration of a 25-year noncompete agreement she signed with Estée Lauder Companies when it acquired her namesake brand, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.

The largely digital campaign, called “I Am Me,” urges women of varying ages and backgrounds to focus on what they like about themselves — the features that make them distinctive. It is but the latest expression of Ms. Brown’s longtime insistence on bucking industry concepts of how makeup should look and be marketed.

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