Sunday, April 13, 2014

As it happens...

... Paris Lees summed up nicely the attitudes that most people have towards women who don't wear makeup in her recent Guardian article on Veet's advertising campaign:

To be a woman is frequently to hate oneself. Absolutely nothing about your body – you are told and, indeed, tell yourself – is good enough in its natural state. Your eyelashes are not thick and dark enough on their own so you buy mascara; your skin isn't the right colour so you tan it or bleach it or cover it in paint; your lips are not plump enough so you coat them in gloss or inject them with fillers; your hair is not good enough so you colour it and style it and add bits to it. You will pay a lot of money for these things and you will do them again and again. It may start to feel like your second job.

Unless you have opted out of this dance completely – and if you have you will almost certainly be known for it, for to be a woman who doesn't join in the beauty culture is to be an outsider, a freak, someone to be pitied or ignored – then you will pay with time, money, pain and effort to fight a never-ending battle not to look like what you naturally look like, until age comes along and you eventually lose.

In the latter half of last year, Willa invited me to a beauty and health event sponsored by a luxury cosmetics company. There was a section of the event reserved especially for the giving of makeovers. I ran out of things to do early on, and eventually decided to let the lady put some makeup on my face out of sheer boredom. She put some heavy eyeshadow and mascara on me, and on the way back home I noticed that a young man was looking at my face and finding it rather attractive in a way I'm not accustomed to on the bus. Initially attracted, I quickly averted eye contact - this stranger would probably pay no attention to me if I went au naturel as usual. I was receiving attention because I was conforming to the beauty culture, and I knew it, even though I wasn't thinking of the phrase 'beauty culture' back then. I did not want this kind of approval.

I guess this could be one of the reasons why my psychic energy gets worn out quickly if I spend a lot of time alone in public, with only people-watching to amuse myself with. I feel like I should be able to be stronger, but it's not an option - weathering the storm that is a random cross-section of society takes a lot out of me, probably because I sink in people's emotions (and thoughts! Those that say they can't read other people's minds just don't have the psychological tools to do so - I'm not saying I can pick up on everything a person is thinking at any given time, but I can usually register the general gist of it.).

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