Disclaimer: To my male readers - you might want to come back next time :)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Yet beauty is only skin deep.
Even the Oxford dictionary is confused by the meaning of such a simple word:
A combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, esp. the sight.
A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense.
So if you can’t seek help in the dictionary, where do you go to define such an innocuous word and make heads or tails of the mixed messages that society throws at us?
I’m in no way a feminist. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the equality of women and men, but I still think that it’s nice every now and again to be treated like a lady. Offer to carry my bag, hold the door open for me – it doesn’t go unappreciated, but I do baulk at the messages that the press feed us on how we should look, what is deemed ‘normal’ and who we should aspire to be like. I don’t believe that we ‘pretty’ ourselves for men, but I do find it interesting that we all seem to follow the norms of society like lambs to the slaughter.
This message was recently highlighted in the press when the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, was reported as having said about his brand:
'Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.'
As a kid, I was awkward. And that’s a total understatement. I went through senior school hiding behind my glasses and keeping quiet. It was a mission to get what I needed out of it, do my time and get the hell out of there, and I think I did it pretty well. But in my experience, the kids that had a lot of friends rarely had a great attitude, and peaked at senior school. The kids that were intent on making everyone’s life a misery didn’t get much further, and that shows ‘ you grow into your personality. You learn your skills, you begin to believe in yourself and you shine. Just perhaps not in the way that you are expected to shine at school; fastest runner, most popular, and in some cases, shortest skirt.
Now, as a big sister, a cousin and a Godmother to girls of different ages, the marketing for fashion and beauty products by retailers still bothers me, not to mention the blatant judging attitudes of gossip magazines across the world. Too ‘fat’? Let’s stick a variety of unflattering images of women in bikinis on the beach, and let the general public know why that’s wrong. Too ‘skinny’? They have that covered too. Weekly gossip magazines featuring stick thin shots of people also grace the magazine aisles. Can we win? Of course we can’t. Whatever the shape or size of a person it’s deemed to be wrong and there is nothing that you can do except ignore and be comfortable in who you are.
Not so easy for a 14 year old just about to take on high school, is it?
Perfection. Its non-existent, like unicorns and elves. It's a nice thought, but not something that is tangible.
The condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
So I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone and try something a little different. My name is Laura and I’m a cosmetics addict. I have 3 years of working for a high end beauty brand under my belt, plus a solid devotion to finding the next mascara that will do wonders for my lashes, or the next skin cream that will get rid of dryness and make me look as fresh faced and bright as the day I turned 18. Which, if I’m totally honest, would be no mean feat.
Today was the first day I have visited the supermarket sans makeup in a long time, and I would never go to work without it, for fear of being asked (again) if I was ill. Nope, it’s not for me.
So how do I feel about putting my bare face out there for the world? Since I started growing old gracefully, I'm actually pretty OK with it.
What does it all do for us? What does the slapping on fake tan and the dying our hair (plus the majority of the bathroom) do? How does that time spent in the morning applying layers of foundation, lashings of mascara and a swipe of lip colour change us?
The truth is, I don't think it makes that much of a difference. I conducted a scientific* experiment where I analysed myself in the cold light of day, with the gloop, and without all the gloop. If you have a nervous disposition or are slightly fainthearted, please look away now. (Just kidding, even I was surprised at how little feelings of terror swept over me).
In all honesty, I don't see much difference. Sure I look a little tired in the final image, and my eyes don't stand out as much as they do when they are framed in eyeliner and weighed down with mascara, but on the whole I'm fairly comfortable with the overall result. The overwhelming thought that I am left with is why do we spend so much money on this stuff? (And that I need to sort out one of my eyebrows!)
So I learnt something today. I'm not going to go back to my roots and throw the lot away, but I feel a bit happier that I could survive a weekend without makeup, and can have a bit of a product cull.
How do you feel about going bare faced and makeup free?
* I have no scientific knowledge to back this up, but i did it in the bathroom where its fairly white, and therefore clinical.