Sunday, April 21, 2013

On makeup

I'm behind on my major-life-events blogging (my son's first birthday, for example), but I'll get to that later, I promise.
For now, just a short little thought about makeup.  
Probably most Facebookers have seen the Dove video that's been making the rounds about how women are their own worst critics.  By the way, if you haven't seen this parody of it about how men see themselves, you're in for a chuckle.  Not that is any more "gospel truth" than the original, but it plays to the amusing stereotype that whereas all women underestimate their appearances, all men overrate their own.  
Now, I get the whole point of the original Dove video and do agree that women tend to cast a very critical eye on themselves needlessly.  I must say that I'm not really a huge fan of the Dove "every woman is beautiful" campaign--not because I disagree with the message, but because I think that it is really just marketing rather than a true philosophy.  The parent company of Dove is Unilever, which also owns Axe, and you couldn't really imagine an ad campaign less nurturing to a woman's self-esteem than Axe's.  Dove might be saying, "You are beautiful, no matter what your size or shape," but Axe seems to say, "Men, if you wear this product, women (all protrayed as skinny, busty, flawless skinned supermodels) will lust after you."
BUT one Dove video I definitely appreciate on its own merits is this one, which shows how much makeup, lighting, and airbrushing can change a woman's image.  We all know that there can be a world of difference between wearing makeup and going without...just look at drag queens!
I grew up with mom who never in my memory wore makeup and loathed the stuff.  She just didn't see the point in it!  Waste of time, waste of money, waste of effort.  She also never "did" her hair.  She (almost) always had it cut short in a sensible style where the only "styling" required was washing it, running a brush through it, and letting it air dry.  I did not grow up with a model who spent any time primping or preening.  My mom is far too practical for that.  
But somehow I was completely enchanted by makeup from a young age (probably encouraged by my mom's mom, who loves makeup and manicures and all of that).  When I was 15 the same grandma took me to the Clinique counter at the local mall and I got my first set of makeup: foundation, powder, eye shadow, blush, and lipstick.  After being taught how to apply it, I wore it with a devotion bordering on the religious. It was just part of my daily routine to put on makeup for the rest of high school.  After a while I skipped putting on the foundation and powder because it looked kind of cakey and overdone, especially on a teen.  I'd just experiment with eyeshadow, mostly.  But makeup was definitely part of my daily life.
In college, I kind of quit wearing it except for special occasions, like dances.  I don't know why I quit, exactly. Wait a minute, yes I do: freshman year I spent most mornings working in the "dish pit" (just as lovely as it sounds) and every other year I spent most mornings rowing crew from 6-7ish.  With those two activities it was a scramble to get a shower in, much less spend time putting on makeup.  Also, St. John's was such a "come as you are" type of place that it seemed truly irrelevant most of the time.  My high school had been a veritable Stepford Wives training ground where they didn't stock certain sports uniforms in sizes larger than size 8 (but had a wide supply of 0s and 2s) and nearly EVERY girl wore makeup.  At St. John's I first encountered girls who (GASP!) didn't shave their legs or underarms, and it wasn't because they were all lesbians (although I first met lesbians there too).  It was because they just didn't feel the need to conform to societal expectations of ladylike beauty!!!  There were fat girls who didn't seem to be ashamed of themselves, and some of them had boyfriends even! This was truly shocking to all of my previous understandings of the way things worked.  I guess I had just assumed that in any relationship of a trim man with an overweight woman, the woman had started out trim too and then just "let herself go."  It positively blew my mind to realize that there were some men out there who were attracted to women who weren't a size 4.  And thank God for that, because I have never been a size 4, nor do I think I ever will be.  I just don't think it is in my genetic makeup, and I no longer even desire to wear size 4 clothes.  It's just a number and has little bearing on anything.  But oh, how it used to matter.  It used to matter so very much.
This post is digressing and wandering, as my posts usually do.  I guess I should come back to my main point, which is makeup.  Last night was the MRA auction dinner, and Allen and I were in attendance.  I decided to get a little dressed up and accordingly I put on makeup, which I never do on normal school days.  At the auction I got several compliments on "looking nice" or "looking cute" including one person who pointed out that I was wearing makeup.  I'm sure that this person meant it as a compliment, but I always get self-conscious when people say that, because then I wonder two things:
1. Did I apply the makeup garishly or too much and it is drawing attention to itself instead of to me?
2.  Are they really saying that I look nice when I wear makeup and it is too bad I don't put in the effort to do that everyday?
Of course, neither question is really worth much mental effort.  The fact is that I just do not choose to spend time on make up on a daily basis.  I know other people in my life station (moms of young kids) who do and who won't leave the house without it, and they always look very nice and "put together."  I'm sure I could look a lot more "put together" than I normally do, because I don't spend a lot of time thinking about hair, makeup, and clothes.  But my husband still thinks I look good, and that's whose opinion really matters about such things.  I'm very thankful I have a husband who doesn't expect me always to be made up, manicured, pedicured, well-coiffed, etc.  He loves me the way I am, the weight I am, with all my flaws and assets. As a teen and even a young 20something, I never thought that could exist for me, so I'm very glad it does!  

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