Thursday, October 02, 2008


So I'm currently supposed to be reading an article for my Women's Studies course. (As Allan points out though, "feminist" thought doesn't really seem to be connected to women per se). This one is about how make up came to be acceptable. Ever hear the term "painted lady"? That used to be a really horrible thing to be.

I've reached the point where makeup became acceptable - where the "commercial beauty culture popularized the democratic and anxiety-inducing idea that beauty could be achieved by all women - if only they used the correct products and treatments."*I would definitely argue that this is the perspective that is around today - and most people (and here I break with my complaints against "women's studies" to say that at least women are, I'm not sure about men) are aware of the fact that looking good is mostly what you do.

My complaint is that it's the only way to look good. The Dove "Campaign for Real Beauty" ads do not, in my mind, in the least act against societal impressions of beauty. They argue that anyone can look good. We should all be using cosmetics, because they can make us all look like the models actually do. Can someone tell me how this is any different from what they're supposed to be opposing? Oh, and if you can tell me how that fits with the advice given in the self-esteem workshop booklets for girls that they don't need to wear makeup if they don't want to, that would also be great. (I'd like to point out that telling the girls they don't need to wear makeup isn't actually a great idea, because it really is necessary, in the same way that brushing hair and dressing up are).

Ok, I think that's out of my system.

*Peiss, Kathy. "Making Up, Making Over". p 323. The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective, ed Victoria de Grazia (UCP, Berkeley, 1996)

1 comment:

Legion said...

I have not, as I think you know, ever taken a course in Women's Studies. Nor have I given a great amount of thought to makeup. But I thought I'd give my two cents worth because a) the post intrigued me and b) it's only two cents, and that's after tax.

It seems to me that, while beauty is in large part something you do (in terms of taking care of yourself, brushing hair, dressing appropriately, etc), it is possible for both men and women to look good without makeup. With men, this is perhaps a bit more accepted in society, but I know many girls who, far as I know, often don't use makeup and who look quite beautiful. I realize, of course, that one goal of applying makeup is to make it appear as if one wasn't wearing any makeup whatsoever. But I'd say that this, in some ways, reinforces my point; many people believe that it is possible to look good without makeup, and at least some of the time this is true.