A couple of weeks ago, Liz Jones wrote a column slating Holly Willoughby for tweeting a photo of herself without makeup, after which the usual mud slinging and nasty comments were made by supporters of both sides. I am not going to comment on either of them as I don’t care for celebrities, but it did make me think about the amount of artifice in Beauty.
The use of cosmetics is not a new thing, and throughout the ages people have debated natural beauty vs. contrived beauty. Church Elders have tried to censor the use of cosmetics and likened women who wear make-up to the devil himself.
More recently, we have some Feminists denouncing the use of cosmetics as degrading and dis-empowering. They argue that our vanity is manipulated by the (male run) beauty industry. We are so busy obsessing about our looks, that there is no space left for more intellectual or practical improvements to our lives. Being judged on looks is also part of a society that builds a hierarchy based on class, social standing and exclusion. That might be a fair opinion, but nobody is forced to buy into the beauty industry’s hype, and women can make up their own minds about their appearance.
The problem is that the use of cosmetics is very closely tied to femininity, and being feminine is not only what attracts men, but also what makes us feel beautiful and confident. This does not mean that women are purely decorative or sexual objects, because I would like to think that women are able to appreciate and enjoy their own beauty (contrived or natural) without being influenced by male or female judgements, and without the feeling that their worth is bound up ONLY in appearance.
Wear make-up if you want to, don’t wear it if you don’t, but do it on your terms and stop slagging off other people to make you feel better about yourself.
- Barefaced trick: lose the lipstick, grab the spotlight (guardian.co.uk)
- Would you do a ‘Holly Willoughby’? 90% of British women would never go out without wearing make-up (dailymail.co.uk)
- Haute Off the Press: A Shocking Example of the Power of Makeup (makeup.com)