Everyone is aware that beautiful people have it easier. Everyone is also aware that beauty is subjective. But, I think there are some standards of beauty that the majority of people agree on. (Catherine Zeta Jones, Brad Pitt, Ashley Judd, George Clooney – all considered beautiful by most average folks.) Most attractive people have symmetrical features and are neither above weight or over weight. I am pretty sure I fall in the middle of the spectrum. I am no Catherine Zeta Jones, but I am not ugly either. I think I am average.
I recently read this article in the NYTimes, and it disturbed me. It states that women who wear makeup increase their likeability and appear more competent – depending on the amount she is wearing. How unfortunate.
Makeup should be fun. I use it when I get dressed up, or I am going out for a night on the town. I like the colors and the shiny glamour of it all. There is nothing inherently wrong with makeup, but I would never use it in my daily life. I don’t wear makeup to work unless I am trying to cover up some dark circles from lack of sleep. I don’t wear makeup if I am just hanging out with friends. I like my face and I think my beauty doesn’t come from lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, blush, or anything else we lady folk smear on in an attempt to feel more attractive.
In the 1960’s women were literally show pieces in the work place. It was part of your job description to look good. One needed to be fashionable, and this included wearing makeup. But, a woman was not expected to be more than that. She got the coffee, answered the phones and looked good doing it. Today women are in the corner office but still expected to adhere to an outdated sense of professionalism in the workplace. All men have to do is show up and adhere to the dress code. A woman must show up and look pretty. But not too pretty. And not too sexy. But, a little sexy. And wear makeup. But not a lot. We don’t want you walking around looking like a street-walker. (sigh)
And I don’t buy the argument that we wear makeup because it makes us feel good about ourselves. I think that women who feel the need to wear a ton of makeup everyday have a warped perception of themselves and probably glean a lot of their self-worth from other people’s opinions of how they look. That is NOT feeling good about yourself. Feeling good about yourself means looking in the mirror (makeup free and naked) and liking what you see. Not liking what you see once you paint on a second face. Personally, I think I look pretty without makeup and I probably think that because I never got in the habit of seeing myself with makeup on a daily basis. I see women with a lot of makeup on and think they look freakish, or clown-like. I have no desire to look like that.
I don’t think this is something that we have to just accept. And, I don’t know how true it really is. I should point out that the research was paid for by Procter & Gamble, which sells CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabbana products. I think that like every industry, the makeup industry is playing to a woman’s insecurities. If you tell a woman she isn’t good enough if she doesn’t look a certain way, history shows that eventually she will believe you.
When Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein took makeup from “whores” to the everyday woman, it changed history. They redefined the concept of beauty and sexuality. These two woman started a multi-billion dollar industry and told woman that we all have the right to be beautiful. And that was the beginning. (You can watch this awesome documentary about the two mavericks of the beauty industry here.)
You are not beautiful. BUT, you CAN be if you buy this lipstick.
And we did. And we do. But it has now become a crutch for many women. Some ladies “can’t leave the house” without some sort of product on their face. Some women claim to just wear enough makeup to “look natural”. Huh? (A side note on “The Natural Look” – it was invented by the cosmetic industry in the 1960’s when the hippie movement was taking hold of American women. How do we sell makeup to women who want to look natural? The beauty industry’s biggest trick on women: to sell them makeup to make them look like they were not wearing any make up.) I have even seen women wearing a full face of makeup to the gym. We women continue to buy into the myth that the way we look just isn’t good enough. And it never will be. We won’t be accepted in society if we aren’t pretty enough. And the way to fix that is makeup.
I propose this challenge to all my female readers: Spend a week without makeup and see how you feel. For those of you who just cringed and felt sick, spend ONE DAY without makeup and see how you feel. My guess is that you will start out feeling strange and uncomfortable without your mask on, but eventually you will start to see yourself again and like what you see.
If makeup is supposed to be fun and accentuate beauty, then we should feel beautiful to start with. If not, you are only covering up something you find not good enough.