Eva Longoria Talks to Her 1st Grade Self in L'Oréal's Meditation on Worth
Eva Longoria appears in a continuation of L'Oréal's "Lessons of Worth" series, launched with McCann Paris.
"'You're worth it,'" Longoria says. "We've heard it so many times; I've said it so many times … it's easy to forget just how special that phrase is, what a gift it is to tell somebody 'You're worth it'…"
The actor addresses the camera directly. It has the feeling of a fireside chat. She talks about what it was like to be a little girl, becoming aware that no one looked as she did.
"So when I say 'You're worth it', I'm saying it to that little girl who feels like her hair or her skin is just a little bit too dark, because I know she needs to hear it right now, and I want her to feel proud of who she is," Longoria goes on.
The film is the latest in a series that kicked off with Viola Davis last year during the George Floyd protests. It was a powerful message from Davis, and a not-unexpected step from L'Oréal, at a time when brands were rushing to commiserate with a wounded public.
But L'Oréal Paris has since scaled "Lessons of Worth" into something bigger, a staccato set of videos where the tagline "You're worth it" (which turns 50 this year) is reinvested with unique and personal meaning. Besides Davis and Longoria, Jane Fonda and Aja Naomi King have shared their voices for different markets—France and South Africa, respectively.
It's only natural that the series has us thinking about what these words really signify, colored as they are by the longtime imprint of beauty advertising. This seems appropriate; it's easy to mistake our existential worth for what we're able to contribute to a marketplace, or how attractive we are.
Marketplaces are volatile, myopic and easily manipulated by interests that don't belong to us. Beauty is much the same. Placing the full weight of one's worth on either is a recipe for misery. And the very idea of "worth" implies that we're all standing against a yardstick of value, defined by forces that have nothing to do with who we are. To suggest that something has a value is also to say that something else does not. And accepting the existence of this binary sets us somewhere in an anxious middle, wondering how close we are to either extreme.
The nice thing about "Lessons of Worth" is how uncluttered it is. It's quiet and unprepossessing, letting its impact sit in the words each woman conveys. There are no cuts or edits. There is no music, no loud call to action; just a fade-to-logo.
An irony sits at the heart of this: Celebrities sit up close and personal, redefining and reclaiming "You're worth it" for themselves and their private communities of affinity. But celebrities are also a kind of expensive varnish, and this is still an advertising format; even as "You're worth it" is broken into pieces, L'Oréal still relies on it to do all the heavy lifting for the brand, which makes it impossible to fully divorce meaning from marketing intent.
But meanings can be multiple and paradoxical while still satisfying the intentions of many, not just the sponsor.
When the Davis ad came out, on the day protestors for George Floyd's murder stood outside Minneapolis' 3rd Police Precinct, watching it burn, we observed that timing is everything in advertising. So it is, too, for Longoria's take on these three words.
" 'You're worth it' can change someone's afternoon. It can change their life, it can change a culture," she says.
Our Reinventions series continuously reminds us of the particularities of the time we're in now. It's one of disruption and migration—people leaving cities, jobs, relationships and old ideas behind. Most of those stories are punctuated by reflections about how we invest our lives with meaning … or, at the very least, enjoy the ride more while we're here.
While a lot of Reinventions revolve around career pivots, there's more in the air as companies, encouraged by vaccines, try pushing people to resume some semblance of a pre-Covid rhythm. At the start of the pandemic, we were more patient with each other and with ourselves; now the shared mood is a generalized fatigue, followed by a "Get on with it" resignation. This brews resentment about the return of "productivity" culture, even as we're being brightly herded back into it.
On the other side of that is The Nap Ministry's exhortation that rest is revolution, especially when you're Black and a woman. All of which leads to a larger question: If my work falls to the wayside, if I no longer understand what I'm doing or see meaning in it—if my strength to get up and just get shit done falters—what, then, do I base my worth on?
How does an unconditional "You're worth it" change a culture in which people have, for the most part, felt their worth is conditional on painfully specific, unforgiving criteria?
For us these questions are still open. But cultivating a spirit in which our worth is unquestioned and unquestionable to ourselves seems like a good compass for the road ahead.
Longoria's Lesson of Worth went live online on Sept. 15. It can be seen pretty much everywhere L'Oréal Paris has a social media profile.
Credits: McCann Paris
President Beauty Team & Co-President McCann Paris: Charlotte Franceries
Chief Creative Officer McCann Paris: Julien Calot
Associate Creative Director: Liam Fearn
Creative Lead: Eric Landowski
Creative Excellence Manager: Nadia Lasfar
Chief Operating Officer: Anne-Sophie Carbo
Business Director: Mathieu Vieille
Account Director: Kristell Piriou
TV Producer: Thibaut Blacque Belair, Jean Robert
Post producer: Louise Jolles / Sabrina Branco
Talent Partnership: Kimberly Kress
Maison de post production: Nightshift / X-Track