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Nike Gets Political Again

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Nike and Under Armour Respond to the NFL Protests
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills players kneel during the national anthem on Sunday. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Nothing is not political in the age of Donald Trump. From shopping to awards shows to the arts, not even breath mints can get away without taking a stance. This weekend, sports were the president’s target of choice.

At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump called on the NFL to fire players who refuse to stand during the national anthem, a reference to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In 2016, Kaepernick began kneeling in protest of police brutality against black people in America. While a few NFL players followed suit, Kaepernick found himself out of a job for the 2017 season, and the non-sports press had almost stopped talking about it — until Trump’s Alabama appearance.

On Saturday, the president took on the NBA, announcing via Twitter that he was rescinding his invitation to host the 2016 championship-winning Golden State Warriors at the White House after hearing Steph Curry wasn’t interested in attending. LeBron James’s response to the president canceling his invitation is now the 15th-most retweeted tweet of all time:

LeBron James

During Sunday’s football games, as many as 200 players kneeled or raised their fists in solidarity, while some coaches and owners linked arms with players. Other teams, like the Seattle Seahawks, chose not to leave the locker room until after the anthem played.

So where does that leave the brands that sponsor these leagues and their athletes? Under Armour, an official sponsor of the NFL and select NBA players, tweeted that it “stands by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America." But then it deleted the tweet, sharing a more vanilla version instead:

Under Armour

Earlier this year the company came under fire for its CEO’s pro-Trump sentiment, which upset some of the athletes it endorses, like Misty Copeland and Steph Curry, and Twitter was quick to ridicule Under Armour for this latest side-step. Its statement, many pointed out, basically said that Under Armour “stands for nothing.”

Nike, an official sponsor of both the NFL and the NBA, was far more explicit about where it stands. On Monday, the company released a statement that it “supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society.” Not one to shy away from politics, Nike has voiced its opposition to previous Trump actions. In January, for example, Nike CEO Mark Parker sent a letter to employees explaining that the Muslim travel ban was “a policy we don’t support.” In February, the brand released a new campaign called Equality.

Nike and Under Armour both have customers across the political spectrum, with loud protests coming from both directions about the responses. Nike has taken a consistent stance since last year’s divisive election, while Under Armour has failed to find a message it can stick to. While politics isn’t the only thing that contributes to sales, it certainly is a weighing factor. In August, the latter announced a plan to restructure amid declining sales, while Nike continues to dominate the sector. Chavie Lieber, senior reporter

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In Defense of Fancy Face Water

I first snagged a bottle of Avène’s Thermal Water (or Eau Thermale, as the bloggers who studied abroad in Paris more than a decade ago and still talk about it would say) from the freebie table at Vanity Fair when I was first starting out as an assistant’s assistant. I didn’t really care too much at the time that it was indeed just a bottle of fancy spring water (or that it cost $14 for the smallest size, ah!), but I cared that, unlike most of the luxe products I’d find in the office, I could actually afford to repurchase it after I ran out.

But after nearly two years, some actual skincare understanding, and the worn-off sheen of French anything, I’m totally aware of the fact that it looks like I’m drinking the overpriced, slightly rose-scented Kool-Aid. Even if I wasn’t, I’ve had enough people in my life — from my boyfriend to Twitter goblins — pop in to let me know that I’ve bought into a gimmicky, well-marketed equivalent to tap water. (At the very least, I know that’s not true: Tap water can cause a lot of problems for your face, including acne, rosacea, and induced inflammation.)

Sure, knowing that the only two ingredients listed on Avène’s popular spray bottle are spring water and nitrogen (lol) makes me cringe a little, but I still buy it. I keep one in my bag and another at my desk.

Aside from the obvious usage of a mid-day spritz, I use it in place of a toner (though you could use both, if you live by K-beauty’s more-is-more approach) to undo how stripped my face feels after cleansing. Unlike a toner, though, you can think of the thermal water spray like a lipstick or lip gloss — something you keep with you and reapply often.

It’s been clutch for my skin’s many tantrum-like phases, too. When my intense hormonal breakouts or my winter-induced dry patches cause my face to feel wildly itchy 24/7, the spray immediately soothes and calms my face. When my face turns bright red after a run or when it’s exposed after a peel, wax, or deep exfoliation, it dials back the flushing, calms irritation, and restores moisture back into my skin immediately.

I also use it as makeup remover when I run out of wipes and as a makeshift remedy for my (still post-summer) peeling skin; it was once a lifesaver that soothed my sister’s nasty sunburn, which made me feel like the Windex dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. All things considered, I stand behind spraying $14 spring water on my face even if all it does is offer a small luxury in my life. Or just because I feel like it. That feels like a good enough reason, doesn’t it? Tanisha Pina, associate market editor


The Kardashian Makeup Empire Is only Getting BIgger

For most of the Kardashians’ careers, since way before they made serious money from it, beauty has been their primary currency. For all of the “famous for being famous” criticism that gets thrown around, they’ve always had something to sell.

Their first imperative was to get people to look at them, and beauty was the fastest way to do that: Turn a head, catch an eye. In a way, it’s better that we can still see pictures of Kim at 16 with her uncontoured nose, that we understand what Kylie’s mouth looked like before the Juvéderm and the lip liner. We know intimately what their money and their makeup has done for them. Is it any wonder we’re so wild to find out what it might be able to do for us?

The Kardashians are pulling off a magic trick, and, as any good magician will tell you, there’s much more to it than simple technique or sleight of hand. You have to attract and direct attention. You have to be someone who people feel drawn to watch. It’s a gift that no one can really teach you, and that cannot be bought. This doesn’t stop the Kardashians from promising to sell it to us, though. And it certainly doesn’t stop us from pulling out our wallets when they do.

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