Where do we see beauty? The makeup industry flourishes because only a fraction of the population looks as good as the models do without serious enhancements. So, who is beautiful? The heavily made up woman with the fake nails, hair, lashes and three layers of foundation, concealer and powder, two layers of blush, a coat of lipstick and multiple eyeshadow colours? Is it the man with the six pack abs and chiseled arms that he had to starve and dehydrate himself to achieve…? Few people are willing to do things the healthy way, with time and patience and discipline.
In 2014 a nice little scandal broke about the ‘methods’ Venezuela was implementing in order to win so many Miss World and Miss Universe titles. I’m not even going to comment on it because it was, ironically, an ugly business. Brazil is apparently the plastic surgery vacation destination and the locals are just as into it. Let’s not even talk about the waist training trend that’s damaging internal organs far and wide. Females are being created, altered from puberty to look a particular way, a way that is being sold as perfect. Women are being psychologically assaulted with images of the ‘ideal’ body type.
What’s alarming is that men seem to now believe that what they’re seeing on Instagram (or whatever other electronic media these women are using to solicit likes) and in magazines is actually the natural female form. The prevailing attitude is that we’re supposed to have flawless skin and miniscule waists and large, curvaceous (yet terrifyingly ungainly) behinds. I’m hoping that it’s not yet the opinion of the majority.
Most heartrending is the story of Li’l Kim. A tragic tale of self-hate compounded by a society that so rarely celebrates women with negroid features. Light skin, cute little noses, long straight hair etc. are what get the catcalls, the compliments, the enthusiasm, the fascination, the accolades. For those of us who weren’t born that way, some are willing to make the effort and spend the money, notwithstanding the amazing and sometimes horrifying amount of work it takes, to achieve the ‘look’. Then I heard this song:
and read the lyrics here. Something is terribly wrong. We’re (especially women) hurting ourselves to try to achieve an unsustainable image of flawlessness. We’re damaging ourselves – physically, emotionally and psychologically, when we need to learn to accept ourselves, love ourselves. Sadly, it’s unlikely that the world will change its opinion so…
Closer to home, it’s amazing and more than a little disheartening to go to ‘social’ events these days. Everybody is preening and selfie-ing. No matter the temperature – makeup; no matter the terrain – heels. Photoshop and filters are standard fare now for photography. No one wants to look natural, which is to say ‘flawed’ or ‘imperfect’ because everyone wants to look better than the other person but most importantly, better than themselves.
So seriously, where do you see beauty? Is it in the photoshopped picture of the nipped, tucked, cinched, hungry and dehydrated imagine on social media. Or is it the person, the heart, connected to the ears that listen to you, the eyes that see the best in you, the lips that smile and laugh with you, the voice that always has supportive or encouraging words… Is it the spirit that speaks to yours and the arms that hold you and give comfort. Shouldn’t it simply be that beauty is ever present, ever visible, in the partner and friends you’ve chosen? In the everyman?
Or do you want your significant other, your child, your family member, your friend to constantly put their lives in danger to turn themselves into caricatures ‘worthy’ of the label #eyecandy?
Where do you see beauty? Look past the outer layers, and celebrate the people right beside you before you glorify what is made up.
2 thoughts on “Skin Deep”
This post reminded me of ‘Unpretty’ by TLC. The sad reality is that many people don’t feel whole unless they are ‘made up’ from head to toe. This superficial craze is nothing new. In 2003 I was working at an insurance company in New Kingston. One morning I went to work extra early and saw one of my coworkers without makeup. I almost didn’t recognize her. Also, she had to come to work an hour early just to get her face ready. I am not a fan of makeup or any other artificial enhancements that women employ to look ‘pretty’. On the other hand, I do appreciate a well put together woman. It’s all about confidence and striking a balance.
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It’s disturbing. And it makes me feel more than a little uncomfortable. Both by choice and circumstance I don’t wear much makeup. My skin is sensitive and there’s a lot of unhealthy crap in those things, especially the cheaper brands. A little eyeliner and some lip gloss, some powder so I don’t get too shiny and I’m good to go. Then I’m out and I see the men staring in admiration at the women with the 3 layers and I laugh most times. But sometimes I’m annoyed., because made up is becoming the new normal.