Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Magic's in the Makeup

I did the most dreadful thing any woman could do before going to work. The one thing you must never forget to do before leaving the house, the one thing that completes and sets the look for the day, the finishing touch. The thing that makes you go, "Ahhh" to the mirror right before walking out the door. The dusting of powder. I totally forgot it yesterday morning. All I could hear in my head was my mom reminding me that my nose looked shiny! Needless to say, I felt very incomplete yesterday and wondered if anyone else was wondering where the bow was on top of the package. But then I had to ask myself, why do women care if there's really microscopic pieces of flesh-tinted translucent mineral powder resting in our pores? During my second year of college, I took a history course called,"History of Women in America 1865-Present," and it was one of the most interesting classes that I ever took in college. Not because I'm apart of the hardcore feminist movement, but because we studied every decade in general and looked at things like fashion (for both men and women), industrial and political movements, etc. We had this huge"Research-driven thesis" project where we had to go to the stacks at Alderman Library and look at a ton of archived magazines to find a topic of interest and actually do our own research on it via historical magazines. So basically, I looked at Cosmopolitan (called Hearst International back then) magazines, which have been around way longer than I would have ever expected from the 1890s until the 1940s. I was totally submersed in the cosmetic advertisements, so I looked at the rise of mass-marketing in very early in the cosmetic industry, focusing on the 1910s-20s. The results were kind of sickening. There was a Maybell Laboratories (what we now refer to as Maybelline) ad in a1917 issue that said, "Beautiful Eyebrows and Lashes will transform a plain, unattractive face to one full of charm, beauty and expression." I also read ads that actually said, "Are you ugly? Well try [Insert Product]!" So what is disgusting about the cosmetic industry is that it attempted to make a woman think that she needed the makeup to cover up her ugliness and by doing so, she was entering into a new realm of society: aristocracy (and maybe, just maybe she could be like a movie star). Ironically, before the everyday woman wore makeup, it had been considered the corruption of beauty (Basically, before the 20th century, only prostitutes and movie stars wore makeup.). Once the everyday woman was accepted by society when she wore makeup, it was the cosmetics that created her beauty, or so people were taught to think. Now, a little gel (Who knows what's in it? Who cares, right?) under the eyes can do wonders for the modern woman and her tiring endeavors. A little foundation can turn a face into a smooth canvas and save its life (and you don't have to debate with yourself about which shade to buy because now, you can find the shade that's just right for your face on any particular morning, whether you're sporting a sun-kiss or an allergic reaction). And every woman knows that applying some lip gloss during lunch break can turn any frown upside down. So many products, so little time. I don't think a little makeup hurt anybody, but I do think it's important not to place all the emphasis in life on trifles like face powder. It's kind of stupid, really. Then again, I don't think I could part with the Benefit BADgal Lash mascara I've been using! All of this is just to say that maybe I shouldn't have gotten so self-conscious about my face just because I didn't have my powder on yesterday....or maybe it's Maybelline.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

"I do think it's important not to place all the emphasis in life on trifles like face powder."