Every once-in-a-while, the desire for a new lipstick becomes overwhelming. When this happens, the doors to heaven open up and I find myself on auto-drive to the makeup counter. The choices for colors are nearly paralyzing, and soon half an hour passes and the risk of becoming a permanent fixture in my local Ulta is near its peak.
When I (finally) make a decision I head to check-out. The plastic of my credit card slides to make my purchase – albeit a purchase the size of a tampon that costs more than several meals for a family in a developing country – but I revel in the excitement of a new shade! That glittering coral looks great with my skin.
That purchase, as hot as it made my credit card feel, means that my date tonight will be even hotter. Something about a bold lip color makes a girl feel a little wilder, am I right? And – well – isn’t that what all men want?
But wait a minute. What am I saying? A tube of lipstick makes me sexy? Hold the phone.
Let’s D-E-C-O-N-S-T-R-U-C-T this.
First, let it be said that I enjoy make-up. No duh, right? But I only enjoy it to a point: when that feeling comes that requires a thorough purging of all dirt and disgusting debris from the pores on my face. You know that feeling, right? When you just want to be – clean, no naked. No mascara crunching up your lashes or lipstick making your lips stick together in an uncomfortable, near-glue.
This beauty thing – well – for all of the precision it takes to master eyeliner, it’s really a mess.
After all, what makes something beautiful?
Who decides that it is beautiful?
What – or who – gives it its worth?
If you were to put your name in those sentences, what would they say?
What makes Jennifer beautiful?
Who decides that Jennifer is beautiful?
What/Who gives Jennifer her worth?
This is the struggle that women face. And really men, too, so this becomes more of an issue of how we value those around us, which is far more important than clothes on our back and the product on our lips.
This notion of beauty isn’t anything new. Women – and men – have been modifying their appearances to feel more attractive for millennia. Everything from poisonous masks of lead and vinegar to hair dyes for eyelashes that removed the lashes instead of colored them. Some cosmetic inventions even caused death and a loss of sight. Is this worth it? Forget – for only a minute — the mental stuff wrapped up in beauty and think just about the fact that people have literally kicked the bucket from putting on makeup. All in an effort to be attractive or fit in. Woah! There’s something wrong here.
This isn’t to say – of course – that the tube of lipstick that paints my lips a brilliant coral is inherently “wrong” because it means I’ve given into a societal notion of what “beauty” entails. But – more importantly – maybe I should be looking at the label!
Now if we ignore the ingredient listings, maybe we shouldn’t ignore what today’s notion of beauty is saying to us as women.
We all know the tricks to make our waists look slimmer, legs longer, how to apply makeup for a thinner face, cover our freckles, curl our eyelashes, streak our hair, and tan our bodies to hide that pale skin so desirable in the Elizabethan era.
And for whatever doesn’t cinch with Spanx or get covered with concealer, we now own the power to digitally cinch and enhance. This is – in fact – exactly what we see as beautiful in advertisements and celebrity photos. And thanks to recent Photoshop blunders, we’re now able to see that even the elite aren’t perfect.
But that doesn’t keep us from watching celebs for the latest style trends. Is it berry lips or scarlet? Heavy liner or just mascara? Should we even bring up that mascara was developed by a man?
And what is it all for?
To feel good? To look beautiful? To feel desirable? Are my friends really not going to hang out with me if I go bare-faced to the grocery store? Will my husband love me any less? Will Alicia Keys sell fewer records because she’s decided not to wear makeup anymore? The answer, my friends, is a resounding NO. All of these things are pretty doubtful.
So here it is: Wear what you want to wear. Cover what you want to cover. Don’t let others dictate who you are and what you want them to see of you. Some women love makeup. To those of you who embrace the beauty stores with full arms and a high credit limit, go for it! Just check the ingredient label first.
And for those of you who would rather stick your nose in a book than a powder brush, that’s okay, too. You aren’t any less beautiful or any less of a woman for preferring a bare face. You’re in good company.