Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eternal youth

Is beauty synonymous with youth?

I've been researching make-up for a project I'm working on at the moment, and it suddenly hit me that the cosmetics industry is geared towards a youth-obsessed marketplace. It's all about looking younger, minimizing wrinkles and age-spots, camouflaging the body's natural ageing process for as long as you can get away with it. How did I not notice this before? I've been living in blissful make-up free isolation apparently.

I suppose I can afford to be so surprised, I'm still in my early forties and I seem to have lucked out by inheriting my mother's wrinkle-free skin, so far anyway. But still, I feel personally offended at the way ad campaigns blatantly target women's biological realities and offer to fix them.

Can I ever be happy with the way I look, naturally, as I age? Or will I always have that nagging thought at the back of my mind that if I only try harder, find the right product, do more, research the options and spend the money...then, I might look more beautiful? I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Then I read this article in Zoe Foster's wonderful blog (one of my favourite Aussie beauty writers, she's so funny and sweet and adorable and The main point of the article is not at all about the ageing process but one particular phrase really caught my attention:

"And kind of ageing, to be honest"

Blake Lively is 23 years old, and yet even SHE should stay away from colours and styles which make her look old?

Is it possible for a woman to wear lovely make-up which makes her look beautiful but also HER OWN AGE? I'd like to think that when I'm 80 I'll be able to put on lipstick which will suit me rather than one which will make me look younger. Or is that a physical and/ sociological impossibility?

And before I leave you can I just add one quick thing? I've noticed that make-up and beauty blogs are all written by women, about women, and for women. It's women commenting on famous women's make-up and then advising "ordinary" women what make-up is best. This industry has absolutely nothing to do with men. I don't think men notice what make-up women wear, but women do. Case in point, I took it as my professional duty to buy some new make-up, for research purposes you understand, and then experiment with it. Miss CB and I had great fun, and I even went so far as to apply foundation (a Dior sample tube which is exquisite and a perfect match to my skin tone and is therefore to be referred to from now on as the HG). But then I stood in front of Mr. CB and asked him if he could see anything different about my face...ummm.....not really (he said this hesitantly). To further prove my point, I had my eyebrows shaped today and I thought that the difference was remarkably enhancing, but Mr. CB was perplexed, he saw absolutely no difference in my eyebrows whatsoever (he said this hesitantly again).

HG is Holy Grail, it took me a while to realise that beauty bloggers who were referring to this were not writing about an actual product called "HG."


Anonymous said...

I keep having the same thoughts -- maybe if I wore makeup I'd be beautiful. And thin and rich and have throngs of younger woman asking me how I do it and paparazzi annoying me and then I think life is pretty darned good as it is and besides the problem with wearing makeup is you have wash your face so carefully at the end of the day when all I want to do is crawl into bed with a book and a glass of wine. So I skip all the intermediate steps and have that glass of wine.

Paola said...

You know, since I started reading Poppy and her beauty tips I discovered a whole new world, unknown to me. But still I can't see myself wearing half that stuff ...
My husband is like yours, he doesn't see the difference.
Are we blessed or without a chance?
I choose the first.

Badger said...

I wear makeup. Not to look younger, but to look like a slightly BETTER me, appearance-wise. I'm pale with un-pigmented lips; without a little bit of makeup I sort of disappear. I have no interest in looking younger, but neither do I want to look haggard, and that is how I feel most days! I've been wearing makeup since I was a teen, so NOT wearing it feels like something's missing and I haven't made an effort to put my best face forward. I'm just used to wearing it.

That being said, I'm no longer the girl who wouldn't leave the house to get the mail without a full face of foundation, powder, etc. In fact, I don't generally wear MUCH makeup -- just a little, and the same stuff all the time -- which is one of the reasons why I stopped beauty blogging. I only like to write about my own experiences, and on that subject I no longer have much to say.

I know I'm in the minority amongst American women, but I LIKE looking my age. The older my kids have gotten, the less I've minded it, and now I'm totally on board with it. I think age brings with it a certain authority that commands respect, and I like that. I aspire to be an awesome Little Old Lady one day. :)

The Coffee Lady said...

I have been wondering about that because of Littlest's interest in make-up, and talking to my friends about NOT saying 'oh you don't need it because you are so young and pretty', which was my mum's way of discouraging me when I was a child. Because I wear it every day, and don't want my children to believe that this is done in order to look youthful. I do it in order to look a bit less like a baked potato, if I'm honest.

sooz said...

There are indeed a group of men who know all about this, and who care deeply. The men who own and run the companies that make and sell this stuff. A long time ago in a far away land I worked for one such high profile expensive French cosmetics company and the most senior executives were men and it was they who dictated our uniforms and standards.

Despite all I learned working there for a few years (all the bad stuff I mean) I know that as I have aged I have increased my basic make up routine when I head out to work and decreased my social make up routine, and this says a lot about moving from make up as a fun fashion accessory to make up as a basic cover up. Horrifying.

Tuli said...

So I've not read the article you linked and, quite honestly, I don't plan to. The beauty industry pisses me off no end so I tend to avoid it and articles about it.

To say "I don't wear make up" is not completely true. Once in a while, I'll wear some eyeliner and maybe some mascara. For my 20th high school reunion this last August, I went and bought some mineral powder stuff. Yeah. That's $60 I could've put to a better use.

When it comes to make up, I honestly don't care what others (except, apparently, my former classmates) think about the way I look. On those days I do wear eye makeup it's because I feel like putting it on in the morning. But mostly I can't be bothered.

trash said...

As someone who doesn't wear make-up I have to say that there is a noticeable difference the two or three times a year I put mascara on. At least once a year CK even notices.

Jeanette said...

You are spot on as always!


Kate said...

I don't wear makeup unless I'm going out. I put some on on the weekend. Steven CAN see the difference - but because he's colourblind, he says it just looks hilarious. Because he sees different shifts in the spectrum, what looks perfectly blended to me is weird and streaky to him!

I was reading something this week about eating disorders and one woman said 'I starved myself for other women, not men'.

I think the same thing about ageing applies to clothes, too. Where are the age appropriate swimsuits, for eg. Well, there ARE age appropriate swimsuits. But they are BORING. Apparently, if you don't wish to wear two triangles of fabric that barely cover you (and why shouldn't you if you want to, but why should you if you don't?) then you may as well just cover yourself in metres of black fabric, because it's all over. It makes me so cross.

alice c said...

I wear makeup because it is fun - I tend to concentrate on stuff that is pretty colours e.g. nail polish and lipstick or smells fab. I am not very good at boring stuff like concealer or anti-aging serum. And I am OK about that.

Duyvken said...

Lol on the eyebrow shaping. I always love having it done but Mr Duyvken can't see any difference either. We are our own worst enemies sometimes I think.

herhimnbryn said...

As I grow older, using make-up becomes an effort, probably because I need to wear my glasses to apply it!

I do use a concealer and mascara sometimes. As I said in my recent birthday list, they can work wonders!

I think that drinking plently water and slapping on the moisturiser is the best routine for good skin