Animal Crossing Is Changing Beauty as We Know It
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy during lockdown. Just last night, I made a casual couple million dollars on the stock market, threw a beach party with my closest friends, caught a couple sharks, visited the museum, and watched a fireworks show. Oh no, don’t get me wrong—I’m still adhering to social distancing guidelines and quarantining at home. My thrilling escapades all took place on Esoterica, my remote, utopic island on Animal Crossing.
With the worldwide pandemic, Nintendo Switch games have seen a major spike in popularity. In fact, it’s been nearly impossible to get your hands on the desirable console since March, with bundles sold out across the board at every major retailer. According to Nintendo, a lot of this can be attributed to the popular game Animal Crossing: New Horizons ($60; amazon.com), which has snagged the number-one best-selling game slot on the Nintendo store for the last several months.
So why is the animated social simulation game so popular? I mean, the premise is pretty simple: you live in a village inhabited by various anthropomorphic animals, participating in different outdoor activities like fishing, bug catching, and fossil hunting. But as it turns out, the game’s wholesome nature was just what the world needed during this uncertain time. And due to the game console's internal clock and calendar that simulates the real passage of time, the alternate world has become a virtual escape for players (including me).
When I saw that Tatcha, one of my favorite skincare brands, had collaborated with the game, I was elated. In my opinion, beauty and Animal Crossing is a match made in heaven. The correlation might not be immediately apparent, but both the game and my beauty ritual have been the primary outlets that I use to escape reality—and two things I adore because of how largely positive and empowering the community is.
Starting August 14, you’ll be able to hop on a flight at Dodo Airlines and fly over to Tatchaland, an island created in collaboration with Claire Marshall and dedicated to the brand’s newest launch, The Rice Wash. There, you can learn all about different skincare ingredients and even partake in wellness rituals like meditation and yoga with Alo (plus win a travel-sized version to try!).
After you learn all about skincare on Tatchaland, you can take your glowing complexion to the Nook Street Market, where you’ll be able to apply virtual makeup looks and sample actual lipsticks from Givenchy. You can even pair it with Glossier's millennial pink hoodies—which are sold out everywhere in real life—for a totally trendy ensemble.
Just last week, Gillette Venus took the game’s beauty innovations one step further by releasing 19 different skin types and over 250 new designs that will completely change the appearance of your character. The collection was created in collaboration with female graphic designer Nicole Cuddihy, and marks the game’s first-ever skinclusive clothing line—with new designs that represent everything from common, everyday skin realities like freckles, acne, cellulite, scars, and stretch marks, to more unique and under-represented skin like vitiligo, tattoos, eczema, and differently abled bodies. There's even arm hair to add to your character, a skin type with mastectomy markings, and a prosthetic leg.
“In a world where there are so many explicit and implicit rules on how women should show or feel about their skin, skin-inclusivity and positive representation matters,” says Anthony van Dijk, senior brand director of Venus North America. “The purpose of our campaign is to ensure that we’re putting out responsible imagery that represents reality and celebrates all types of skin, while also spotlighting the diverse skin stories of women all around the world. With Animal Crossing, we saw a unique opportunity to meet women where they are this summer by providing new ways to make gaming a more inclusive space, while also enabling them to gather virtually, safely on a beach to celebrate summer and skin inclusivity.”
There have been a lot of beauty services going virtual, especially in this day and age, but having your beauty routine (not to mention your representation in beauty) influenced by a video game is pretty groundbreaking. Coronavirus aside, the truth of the matter is that many people are scared to approach a beauty counter in real life because, well, they’re kind of intimidating. When you don’t know much about the products or are insecure about your skin, you fear being judged underneath those harsh white lights by people throwing creams and serums in your face. My pre-beauty-editor self can definitely relate to that.
But here’s the thing: In Animal Crossing, you don’t have to be afraid of being criticized. You can rock cellulite and a face full of freckles, knowing that your villagers won’t criticize how you look (although they might reel in horror if you get a wasp sting). You can confidently shop for skincare products with a breakout on your forehead. Your avatar is a version of yourself that allows you to explore beauty—and be confident while doing so.
This confidence comes for obvious reasons. It is a game, and the unceasingly friendly animals aren’t anywhere near as callous as real humans are. But in a world where everyone is confident in their skin—if only in the world of gaming—it’s allowing people to express themselves and their individuality. It’s giving people an easier way to get introduced to—and feel more comfortable with—the vast world of beauty. It’s normalizing the existence of very normal skin conditions.
When I log into the land of Esoterica, visit different islands, and see people being unapologetically themselves, it gives me a glimmer of hope that this mentality will bleed into the outside world. In a world where there is so much negativity, we can all use some positive influence. It might have taken a pandemic and a bestselling game to get us there, but maybe—just maybe—when things go back to normal, we can all emulate the confidence of our avatars.
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