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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : I Sell Colored Dirt To Women With Low Self-Esteem » I Sell Colored Dirt To Women With Low Self-Esteem

I Sell Colored Dirt To Women With Low Self-Esteem

Rusty - May 8, 2007

I work in the cosmetic industry and I hate it. Not the work but the industry. The design work I do is sometimes interesting, the people with whom I work are top shelf and the pay isn’t bad. But I hate being part of an industry that in order to move product it tells women they aren’t beautiful enough.

Perhaps that’s being overly simplistic. I mean, the beauty industry is just filling a need (to feel beautiful), right? It empowers women, helping them feel good about themselves, right? It doesn’t tell women they’re ugly, it provides the means to enhance their already beautiful features to be more beautiful, right?

Sure, whatever.

I think the reality is more along the lines of the beauty industry creating a need and then filling it. I mean, does the marketing of beautiful women make the everyday woman feel inferior or does the everyday woman already feel inferior and the beauty industry is there to help a girl (hi ECS!) feel beautiful?

The reality is that almost all companies, through marketing, try to convince us of our shortcomings in order to overcome them with their product. What we currently have isn’t fast enough, bold enough, soft enough, stylish enough, colorful enough, or clear enough, therefore we need to get a new Dell, drive a new Cadillac, sleep on a new Serta, wear a new shirt from Barney’s, use the new Tide, and switch to the new AT&T, and then life will be good.

And for the most part I don’t really mind modern marketing, but for me the beauty industry is different because it’s dealing with people and the way God created us. It’s one thing to say that your phone is ugly, it’s an entirely different thing to say that your face is.

A few thoughts regarding this industry:

– Models are objects, not people. Their “product” is their face, body, hair, lips, etc., not their opinion, ideas or creativity. The model does exactly what the art director tells her/him. (That’s why the scene in Zoolander in which Derek is acting like a monkey in front of the camera is so funny, because that’s the reality of this business.)

– Being that a model’s product is her body, to succeed she must do everything she can to improve that product. Therefore her daily routine is entirely focussed on maintaining/improving her body, face, hair, etc. (If you spent all day, every day improving your body it would probably look a little better than it is currently.)

– Photoshop is a model’s best friend. Trust me, models don’t have such nice pores, lip texture, nose shimmer, strategic hair placement, lack of blemishes, long eyelashes, radiant eye color, etc. All of that stuff is adjusted to communicate what the company desires (“smooth skin!”, “soft lips!”, “no wrinkles around the eyes!”, etc.). (If you had tens of thousands of dollars spent on a single photo of your body or face, including the photoshop work, it wouldn’t be a good representation of your current reality.)

– If you haven’t seen the Dove ad yet then you need to. It is an almost perfect summation of what I’ve written in my last two points. (After you watch that one you also need to watch the spoof ad just because it’s hilarious).

I’m not necessarily advocating for anything, these are just some thoughts that I’ve had since I’ve been working here. I recognize that this is a complex issue without any easy answers (and “moderation in all things” is an unsuccessful, easy answer). Thoughts?

NOTE: If you’re wondering why I’m still working in an industry I hate, my answer to you is complicated, but is largely a combination of “It’s convenient until I get my other business going” and “I like the people I work with” and “I’ve got a mortgage to pay” and “I’m lazy”.

49 Comments »

  1. It’s like what Hugh Nibley said in “Approaching Zion.” “The Saints will never reach Zion until they stop seeking after Babylon.” Personally, I’d have bid farewell and gone to the mountains of Ephriam to dwell…if I knew where they were.

    That and ya know, moderation in all things, Russ.

    Comment by Bret — May 8, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  2. I’ve often thought of how absurd it is that women routinely, as part of their normal life, put goops and powders on their faces. The thought of putting that stuff on my face actually kind of makes my skin crawl. No offense to makeup wearers. I’m not grossed out by makeup people or anything. But I won’t let my wife kiss me if she’s wearing lipstick (which she very very rarely does, thank goodness).

    I have always preferred a natural look. I have a hard time complimenting my wife when she puts on makeup because I don’t want to encourage it. She looks good with or without makeup, but I prefer without.

    I can’t blame the makeup thing on the industry too much because it seems that women have been doing it for centuries. And men have also routinely worn blush and powder in some cultures, haven’t they? At least that’s what movies lead me to believe. We could probably come up with a plausible story for the pervasive appeal of makeup based on evolutionary biology and mating competition or something.

    The important question is how healthy is the current state of affairs? I suppose there’s not too much harm in having as a standard of beauty faces with goops and powders on them. Pretty much everyone can afford goops and powders. The really unhealthy aspect of the beauty industry, I think, is the idealization of certain body types and shapes, which are not attainable to most women.

    Comment by Tom — May 8, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

  3. Nice post! I don’t think _all_ women who wear make up have low self esteem (maybe just the women who buy your make-up :). For example, women in many professions (respectable and not) generally are expected to wear make up – it’s just part of the uniform. I guess you could protest, but for most women it’s just easier to spend an extra five minutes getting ready in the morning. And both men and women have been strutting their stuff for centuries. Did you see the movie “Marie Antoinette”? Men can be just as pretty and vain as women (see also Sen. John Edwards).

    I agree with you on the marketing hype, though. The Hair Club for Men commercials are the worst. And the Just for Men hair color commercials – where the losers with gray hair finally get a life after they spend $8.98 on their product. Ugh.

    Comment by ECS — May 8, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

  4. Colored dirt… I’m going to call it that from now on. Sweet.

    Comment by Connor — May 8, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

  5. Rusty, you should have voiced this before I started Fit Over 40. Isn’t the fitness industry similar to what you’re saying? Perfect bodies. Lots of spandex.

    Why not just be satisfied with the fat out of shape bodies we have….sure there’s some health issues….but how many workout for health…how many to meet the expected norms produced by society?

    What about bridal dresses? Society says you have to get married is a beautiful dress, have a beautiful wedding and spend lots of money doing it. All of us would have married our wives no matter what she was wearing…why all the fuss? Society makes it so. And society makes it so for cosmetics too.

    Think of your job as doing a favor for all the ugly women out there…you’re helping them!

    Comment by Don Clifton — May 8, 2007 @ 3:39 pm

  6. Tom,
    I too have always preferred the natural look…on naturally beautiful women. Otherwise, of course, a little make-up to help them out goes a long way. (If it weren’t obvious, I’m just as guilty as the next guy as I too buy into the contemporary cultural definition of beauty)

    ECS,
    No, I think you’re wrong, ALL women who wear makeup have low self-esteem :)

    Don,
    No, the fitness industry is different because that deals with health, not just looks. Of course an obsession is unhealthy…

    Comment by Rusty — May 8, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

  7. I’ll admit it. Make-up does make me feel prettier. It covers my blemishes/pimples/zits/discoloration and makes my eyes look bigger. It takes about 2.3 minutes (I timed myself once) to do it and it’s worth it to me.

    When I was a senior in high school, I had great skin –so great that I only wore mascara. It changed when I got to college, because I felt there was some competition for the male species (trust me, those instincts are there).

    After I got married, my husband told me pretty much what Tom said –I was beautiful without it, so why go to all the trouble? So, for one week, I stopped wearing make-up altogether. After a week, he said “Well, a little make-up isn’t so bad…” :) Seriously, it didn’t hurt my feelings, but I knew what he meant. My skin did look better when I wore make-up. And when I feel that my face is at it’s best, then I feel better about myself. I really do –I have more confidence speaking to people when I take care of (and go a little beyond just health maintenance) my face.

    So bring on the colored dirt, Rusty!

    P.S. I do appreciate this post, though, especially coming from a man in the industry who is not afraid to admit what advertising really does and wants from their “customers”…

    Comment by Cheryl — May 8, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

  8. Don, you have a point about the ridiculous expenditures on weddings. On the other hand, you’ll have to pry my wedding dress from my cold, dead hands before you deprive me of my day to look like a princess. heh.

    Comment by Proud Daughter of Eve — May 8, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  9. I work for the devil, too. I work at an advertising agency. And I strongly dislike how consumer-driven our culture is. But at least one of our clients is a really cool one.

    I haven’t worn make-up since high school. (For awhile, I wore make up like this, or at least tried to. I wish I had pictures of it, cuz it’d be really funny to see now.) I don’t care if I’d look better with makeup on, it itches and makes me uncomfortable and takes too much time and costs too much money and I’m just lazy.

    Comment by Susan M — May 8, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

  10. I don’t wear make-up at all unless I’m going out somewhere special or to a job interview or something. My husband hates it on me, and basically, I’m too lazy to bother. However, I don’t think make-up is just out there because it’s going to help a woman feel more beautiful (although it can do that and boost self-confidence too). I think the number one attraction to make-up for me is that it’s really fun! I spent hours as a kids playing with my mom’s make-up (she wears a lot of it), and I would relish every chance to dress up because it was just so much fun to experiment, like painting on a canvas (to be trite).

    I think cosmetics are a blast, as long as you’re not addicted to them (like my mom who can’t leave the house because she doesn’t have make-up on — even if the house were burning, she wouldn’t leave it.. i’m hardly kidding here!)

    Comment by meems — May 8, 2007 @ 6:24 pm

  11. I should clarify that I don’t think it’s absurd for women to use makeup. What I think is absurd is that it’s expected, that it is part of a uniform for some women. It’s totally understandable that most women wear it. We have a powerful need to conform to expectations. It’s like hair for me. If it was entirely up to me I would have a short buzz cut for the rest of my life, but as soon as I start looking for jobs I feel like I need to look more “professional,” so I’ll have to let the hair grow a little bit. It shouldn’t matter what my hair looks like, but it does. I will conform if the incentive is there.

    Comment by Tom — May 8, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

  12. “moderation in all things” is an unsuccessful, easy answer

    But moderation/BALANCE is my favorite solution to most of life’s quandaries! (…And yet why is it always so evasive?)

    Russ, do you chuckle when you think of Mom, speaking of makeup, saying, “I’ve gotta go put my face on!”

    Here is a woman at age 58 whom I think is beautiful with makeup, and just fine without it. But she cannot leave the house without her “face” on (much like meems’ mom). I wonder how much influence an experience she had in her college days affected this attitude — when a roommate saw her without makeup and gasped in horror, saying she had a definite talent for art if she could transform “that” into the face she was used to seeing.

    I don’t like a culture that tells us we “have” to wear makeup. And yet I generally prefer to see women (including myself) who are wearing it. When I see a neighbor out walking her dog with no makeup on, I think, “Wow, she’s got some self-confidence there.” But when I see a female bank teller with no makeup on, I think, “What’s wrong with her? Doesn’t she know she’d look better with a little mascara?”

    So when it comes down to it, I say BALANCE. Know when to wear it, and be okay with not wearing it in other circumstances.

    (Another issue I have is when women feel they must spend $45 on one shade of eyeshadow. But for all I know, that could be cheap compared to the prices at which some companies retail their colored dirt…)

    Comment by Amy — May 8, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  13. This is the exact point that Naomi Wolf makes in her book The Beauty Myth: women are victims of an industry that has created a need and then provides the solution. Even the idea that for certain professions makeup and certain levels of appearance are “part of the uniform” is based on cultural expectations that are largely driven by the beauty industry. I do wear some makeup on occasion, especially to church or other times when I am more dressed up. But most of the time I don’t because I just don’t care that much. As I raise my children, one of the things I will teach them is to be wise consumers and to realize that advertising is all driven by money. I want my daughters to be aware that our culture and the beauty industry have set standards that are nearly impossible to reach.

    Comment by FoxyJ — May 8, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  14. i too work in the cosmetics industry, and have a lot of the same thoughts. i like a lot of the people, the pay is good, the work is interesting, etc. the whole women’s self-image thing is not something i’ve thought a lot about, probably because i’m on the operations side. i take it you work in the creative department.

    Comment by mike d. — May 8, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

  15. Would you rather work in an industry that helps our boys kill their boys?

    Comment by ed42 — May 8, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  16. ed42,

    Since my brother is one of “our boys,” I thank everyone who works in an industry that supports him. If you work in such an industry, thank you very much. If your just making a point, KMA.

    Comment by KyleM — May 8, 2007 @ 10:36 pm

  17. “I have always preferred a natural look.”

    Er, you might not be as enlightened as you think you are. Men who say they prefer women who don’t wear makeup are virtually always saying that they prefer women with naturally clear and firm skin, large eyes, and good color—that is, they’re saying they prefer young women.

    And of course you do; that’s what men do, that’s who they are, they prefer young women. I don’t blame you for it. But please don’t act like you’re especially virtuous or enlightened for your preference.

    Comment by Rosalynde — May 8, 2007 @ 11:00 pm

  18. Rosalynde,
    I didn’t claim any special enlightenment. I simply stated a preference. Any claim to special virtue or enlightenment was imagined by you.

    Of course there’s no way for me to prove my preference. All I can do is tell you that I prefer no makeup, even on older ladies. I never think, “Ugh, that woman is brave for going out without makeup.” I often think “Ugh, that woman wears too much makeup.”

    What does that preference mean about me? Nothing. It’s a morally neutral aesthetic sensibility.

    Comment by Tom — May 9, 2007 @ 4:49 am

  19. Amen, Rosalynde. And what exactly is the “natural look” anyway? Bed head and crusty eye boogers? No, it’s more like the way the J. Crew models look after hours of primping and styling.

    It takes very little effort to comb your hair and put on a bit of mascara in the morning. Probably less time than it takes for a man to shave or trim his beard. And if women want to look like Christina Aguilera or Carmen Electra in those garish MAC magazing advertisements – so what?

    Comment by ECS — May 9, 2007 @ 6:37 am

  20. In the context of a thread about cosmetics, can’t it be assumed that to say “the natural look” means ‘without makeup,’ not ‘ungroomed’?

    I know it’s tempting to make assumptions about what I meant. When a man says that he likes a natural look he must mean that he really likes pencil thin women with perky breasts and a look that takes hours of primping.

    What I mean is that I don’t like makeup. Your insistence on reading more than that says more about you than about me.

    Comment by Tom — May 9, 2007 @ 6:52 am

  21. Oh come on ECS, let’s be fair now, we’d never use Christina OR Carmen in our ads!! (we use Pam Anderson, Barbie and Lisa Marie Presley).

    Rosalynde,
    Minus the part where you point out how unenlightened those around you are I think you’re saying the same thing as I was saying before, and that is that the “natural” look is good if a woman naturally looks good, otherwise, bring on the enhancers/concealers.

    Mike D,
    Yes, I work in creative.

    Comment by Rusty — May 9, 2007 @ 6:58 am

  22. “Your insistence on reading more than that says more about you than about me.”

    Tom – Huh? Maybe “your” isn’t me, but what’s this supposed to mean?

    Rusty – Christina is definitely a MAC model (VIVA GLAM V) – I thought Carmen was too. And make up is not really _dirt_. It’s a bunch of (hopefully non-toxic) chemicals.

    Comment by ECS — May 9, 2007 @ 7:26 am

  23. ECS,
    You’re right, Christina did model for us. I guess it just shows you how much I care…

    Comment by Rusty — May 9, 2007 @ 7:34 am

  24. This is the education I get reading People magazine at the gym. I’m not surprised you forgot about Christina, because these women are completely unrecognizable with all that make up on. This is the wrong thread to be asking, but I’ve wondered what men find attractive about women who dress like circus freaks. Is it that men like women to look like life-sized dolls?

    Comment by ECS — May 9, 2007 @ 7:40 am

  25. I’m just being defensive after being treated unkindly. Sorry if that statement doesn’t make sense. What I mean is that I don’t understand why you would insist that I mean something different from what I say I mean. You’re trying to make my statement say something that I already said it doesn’t say. That you do so reflects negatively on you, in my opinion.

    Comment by Tom — May 9, 2007 @ 7:48 am

  26. And now I’m going to drop it because I hate personal tiffs on blogs. Sorry, Rusty.

    Comment by Tom — May 9, 2007 @ 7:50 am

  27. Hey, Tom – I re-read Rosalynde’s comment, and it is a bit condescending. I do agree with her general point though -that men prefer younger women for whom looking good takes little effort. I’ve also found men who say they like the “natural look” don’t realize that these women spend lots of time (and make-up) to look good “naturally”. You say you don’t like make up, so that’s fine. Didn’t mean to be rude.

    Comment by ECS — May 9, 2007 @ 7:58 am

  28. Hey Tom, my apologies; I was grumpy last night. In fact you didn’t make any explicit gestures of superior evolvement and enlightenment. I guess it’s just that I’ve heard so many other men who share your preference for naturally attractive women spin it as evidence of their pro-feminist, oh-so-enlightened character—and it irks me SO—that I rushed to read it into your comment.

    I guess you’re probably right that the male preference for young, naturally attractive women is a morally neutral aesthetic sensibility (though I think it’s more sexual than aesthetic). Like I said, I don’t blame men for it; I don’t actually think this preference is much subject to conscious control. Furthermore, there does seem to be such a thing as objective beauty; men will be attracted to it, and not all women will possess it, and that’s life. (I don’t go in for much harping on the beauty industry; I think at best it tinkers around the edges of inherent instincts.) But I wish men would acknowledge that it nevertheless damages women’s sense of inherent value, whether they’re young and beautiful OR aging and average. (And of course it goes the other way, as well: men can also be psychically injured by women’s rejection.)

    Comment by Rosalynde — May 9, 2007 @ 8:15 am

  29. ack, Rosalynde, you’re not going to leave it to me to raise objections to “morally neutral aesthetic sensibility”, are you?

    I have to go pick up my kindergartener, but the short version is that there is no such thing as a morally neutral aesthetic. *All* of our sensual responses are to be trained and disciplined by our best understanding of what is moral and right. Our instinctive, immediate response may not be “much subject to conscious control”, but I don’t think that excuses us from the effort to train ourselves to respond in more morally enlightened ways.

    Comment by Kristine — May 9, 2007 @ 8:31 am

  30. Apologies accepted.

    Pretty much everybody prefers naturally attractive women (and men), however ‘naturally attractive’ is defined in a given society. And yeah, that’s probably a more a sexual than aesthetic preference. And I will own up to it. Sexual instincts are powerful. But that’s different from my preference for no makeup, which actually is a morally neutral aesthetic preference, independent of other preferences. My wife isn’t the type to make it onto the cover of a magazine, with or without makeup, but she’s beautiful and I prefer her without makeup. I prefer the way my mother and sisters look without makeup, though I would never tell them so.

    But I wish men would acknowledge that it nevertheless damages women’s sense of inherent value, whether they’re young and beautiful OR aging and average.

    I acknowledge this. The pervasive focus on conforming to a certain, largely unattainable, superficial appearance is something that worries me as I raise my daughter. I dont exactly know how to combat it as I raise her. I don’t want her to feel that her appearance has any bearing on her worth as a person, and I worry that making it a point to praise her for how she looks would reinforce the messages that she’ll inevitably receive from the broader culture. But I fear that failing to make it a point to praise her for how she looks will leave her with low self esteem, given that she will be bombarded by Rusty’s evil designs. It’s a catch 22 that I don’t know my way out of.

    Comment by Tom — May 9, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  31. Kristine,
    Is it not possible to have an aesthetic preference that is morally neutral? For example, wouldn’t it be a morally neutral aesthetic preference for a woman to prefer facial hair over a clean shaven look?

    Comment by Tom — May 9, 2007 @ 8:38 am

  32. Kristine, I’m not so sure. Once we concede that an impulse is beyond the reach of will, I think we have to let go if its moral valence, too. Witness, for example, what’s happened to the way we talk about sexual orientation, now that it has been largely conceded that in most cases that orientation is not willed. I suppose we could try to leverage the impulse/behavior distinction for straight men in the way we have for gay men: it’s not a sin to desire young beautiful women, but it is a sin to ask them out. :) (Have a feeling that one won’t go far.)

    Tom, I don’t know you from Adam, and I won’t embarrass us both by making claims about your personal aesthetic and sexual preferences. I will say, however, that as a man you appear to be pretty unusual in your ability to distinguish between “aesthetic” and “sexual” preferences. At least it has been the fervent testimony of dozens of men on scores of threads about modesty and pornography that male sexuality is virtually coincident with visual aesthetic preference: men are turned on by images of visually attractive women. So I stand by my claim that for MOST men, an “aesthetic” preference for women with no makeup is coincident with a sexual preference for young, beautiful women.

    Comment by Rosalynde — May 9, 2007 @ 10:19 am

  33. Nothing is more sexy than eye boogers and bedhead. Nothing.

    Especially young eye boogers and young bedhead. The younger the better.

    I think you should work a week in my job before you lose any more sleep, Rusty.

    And nice work staying calm and collected in the face of a total flip-out, Tom.

    Comment by Brian G — May 9, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  34. I will say, however, that as a man you appear to be pretty unusual in your ability to distinguish between “aesthetic” and “sexual” preferences.

    You don’t think that most men have some aesthetic preferences without links to sexual preferences? I find women to whom I feel no sexual attraction (my mother and sisters, for example), more or less aesthetically pleasing based on how they’re made up or what they’re wearing. I suspect the same is true of other men. There are hairstyles and facial features and clothing that I find aesthetically pleasing on other men. Heterosexual women have aesthetic preferences in the appearance of other women. While I acknowledge that aesthetic and sexual preferences are related, I don’t think they are as inextricably linked as you’re indicating.

    men are turned on by images of visually attractive women.

    Of course. But again, not all aesthetic preferences translate into sexual preferences.

    So I stand by my claim that for MOST men, an “aesthetic” preference for women with no makeup is coincident with a sexual preference for young, beautiful women.

    I don’t deny this. But I’d bet that an aesthetic preference for women with makeup is also coincident with a sexual preference for young, beautiful women. Just about all men have a sexual preference for young, beautiful women, whether they like makeup or not.

    Comment by Tom — May 9, 2007 @ 11:11 am

  35. I am female, and I usually don’t wear make-up. I don’t feel the need to even though I don’t think I am extraordnarily beautiful. I don’t scare little children, but I certainly don’t turn heads either. I don’t feel the need to because in my social circles it offers no advantage. The only people who would want me to wear make-up are advertisers, and probably some of the local women in the ward who are aghast at my lack of appropriate social manners. My husband is like Tom, he hates make-up. Its okay in a photograph, or from a distance, but up close and personal he hates it. My profession doesn’t require make-up, and most women in my profession don’t wear it. My mother and my grandmother always wore little to no make-up, and so do many of my friends. Personally, I liked the way my grandmother looked, wrinkles and all. It made her look like someone who had lived a life, had tales to tell and was comfortable in her own skin. Also, when I was a kid, the other women in our ward looked scary to me with all of their 1970′s make-up. I distinctly remember thinking with relief that at least my mom didn’t look like the evil dead. Luckily, today’s make-up is not so garish, but I still don’t like it all that much. So I have an aesthetic preference for women without make-up, regardless of age just as most other women have an aesthetic preference for women with make-up, regardless of age. I don’t think I am more liberated, brave or better than other women, and I respect women who choose to wear make-up, whether by choice or by professional necessity. I suppose we can mutally agree that to each other, we don’t think we look our best, and I’m okay with that. I suspect men can have the same aesthetics, which can be distinguished from their general sexual preference for young beautiful women.

    Comment by Lynne — May 9, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

  36. I’m with you on this one, Tom. Women who can at least wear makeup without it looking like they wear makeup usually works with me.

    In fact, as an example is a girl that recently moved out of my (singles) ward. She wore a LOT of eye shadow and probebly looked more attractive because of it, but I think I personally would have found her more attractive if she wore little to no makeup at all. It’s just the way I roll.

    Comment by Bret — May 9, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  37. Gee, I think I’m going to wear make-up to work tomorrow. I wonder if anyone will notice?

    Comment by meems — May 9, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  38. I have some real qualms with the beauty industry and pretty much agree with Rusty’s original.

    But while the methods can be very superficial and artificial, the mere fact that a woman is trying to look nice can sometimes say something important.

    I’m receptive to the idea that “it’s what’s inside that counts” but on occasion, I’ve heard that mantra used by women to mask a low personal self-esteem. The truth is, dressing like a bag lady, and railing against the societal “norms” is often done by women who actually have a very low self-image. The effort to “take care” of yourself can actually provide evidence, however small, that a woman cares enough about herself to spend a bit of time on her presentation.

    While my attitude toward our societal expectations of beauty is largely negative, the effort that a woman takes to “look nice” can say something about her. Likewise, the fact that a woman is completely neglecting her appearance and how she is seen in society can also say something very sad about her.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 10, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  39. Yeah. It says I’m lazy.

    Comment by Susan M — May 10, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

  40. Somewhere I heard that Spencer W. Kimball had said, on the subject of makeup, that even an old barn looks better with a coat of paint. When I heard that “quote” (and I’m only using scare quotes because I don’t know if he actually said it), I thought, “Well, what if I’m a beautifully hand-carved mahogany box? Would that look better with a coat of paint too?”

    I am a hand-carved mahogany box.

    Comment by Wacky Hermit — May 10, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

  41. Nice post, Rusty. It’s certainly a multi-facted issue. Yes, we as a culture have rather unrealistic expectations and definitions of ‘beauty’ and I’m so very delighted with Dove’s recent ‘real beauty’ campaign. It’s one of the healthiest marketing plans I’ve seen in a long time.

    How do we find the balance between sufficient grooming and liking ourselves and others for who we are? What’s the middleground between laziness and obsessiveness (such as between total lack of concern for physical fitness and compulsive gym workouts)? What about the point that some skin care (and skin care products) actually do improve your skin’s health and your overall health and your confidence in your own attractiveness? What about all the questionable chemicals in conventional cosmetics (say that 5 times fast) and personal care products that have possible long-term health detriments, particularly for women, who generally use more of the personal care products?

    It’s a complicated issue.

    I personally have a skin care routine that often, but not always, includes foundation; and I usually put on some lip color when heading out into public or hosting something. Mascara goes on about 50% of the time when I’m anticipating company or the public. I think it’s a happy balance. Plus, the products I use really do make my skin healthier (and they’re organic, woo-woo!), so I don’t feel like I need any extra makeup to ‘cover’ anything. And I’ve learned to love my freckles (which, as a child, I didn’t).

    On the other hand, I always felt my parents pushed makeup on me too much. I wasn’t allowed to wear it until I was 13, but after that, if I was going somewhere and they thought I wasn’t wearing enough, they’d tell me. I even got some super scarlet lipstick partly so I could over-do the look and get them to back off. But it’s taken me years to learn how to not care when they say things like that (esp. when my mom says them) and years of my dismissal of their makeup advice for them to mostly stop giving it. I hate that it’s so entrenched.

    One of our family-lore stories is that when my parents got married (and my mom was a bombshell), my dad told her that even though they were poor students, he didn’t want her wearing cheap make-up. The way my mom tells it, she could’ve been offended, but she didn’t really mind because she was already a committed Merle Norman gal.

    I was appalled.

    Comment by fMhArtemis — May 11, 2007 @ 9:46 am

  42. I consider myself more of a moss-covered rock.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 11, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  43. I’d like to say I’m a hand-carved mahogany box, but really I just don’t wear much makeup because when I do, no matter who does it or which what products, I end up looking like a child prostitute.

    Yes, you read that right. I don’t quite know how to explain the phenomenon.

    So, I’m a (light-coat of) mascara and (strawberry) chapstick girl. The mascara darkens the blonde tips of my eyelashes to make me look less tired, and the chapstick is mostly for comfort. And yes, only strawberry will do.

    But, like Artemis, I try to use skin care products to really improve the health and appearance of my hand-carved mahogany. I guess that’s more of a varnish than a coat of paint, eh?

    Interesting post, Rusty!

    Comment by EmilyS — May 11, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

  44. Seth R., you said, “But while the methods can be very superficial and artificial, the mere fact that a woman is trying to look nice can sometimes say something important…The effort to “take care” of yourself can actually provide evidence, however small, that a woman cares enough about herself to spend a bit of time on her presentation.” I’m a mite bit perturbed by this statement. Do you mean that if a woman DOESN’T wear makeup, then she has low self-esteem?

    Forgive me if I’m reading too much into this, but I passionately disagree with that.

    Comment by Keryn — May 11, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

  45. Actually, Keryn has a point. If a woman doesn’t wear make-up, doesn’t that imply that she feels so good about herself to warrant the impulse to oppose social norms? But in the same breath, how is it that I feel better about myself when I do wear make-up?

    Comment by Cheryl — May 11, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

  46. Sigh…

    Yes Keryn, I automatically assume that any woman who doesn’t wear mascara secretly hates herself and needs immediate professional intervention before she does something drastic with her silverware.

    Cool down for 5 seconds and re-read my post.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 11, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  47. Seth R., I’m sorry I mis-read your remarks. I just read them to my husband and he looked at me like, “Okay, what’s the big deal?”

    I think I was responding not so much to what you actually said but what I interpreted in the context of the whole thread about makeup. Which now, in the coolness of the evening rather than the heat of the afternoon, seems rather logical. Sorry!

    Comment by Keryn — May 11, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  48. Oh, don’t worry about it.

    Sorry for getting a bit snippy on my end.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 11, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  49. it’s not colored dirt.

    it’s afro-american dirt.

    Comment by garry — May 23, 2007 @ 10:21 am

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