Make-up: the Necessary, the Raccoon Eye, and the Orange Face

I love wearing make-up; I never leave the house without it.  I apply a dab of eyeliner, some mascara, and I am ready to go. Other women apply foundation to cover up acne or other slight imperfections. Others put on more: foundation, eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara. The rare exception among these are the few women who do not apply make-up at all. All of these women have the same goal in deciding their look for the day: to be perceived by others as beautiful. They go about this in different ways for different reasons, with this being the strongest: to appear beautiful to other women.

The cosmetics market is an authoritative big-gun giant in the American Economy. “The global make-up industry generated close to $35 billion in 2010” with Proctor and Gamble leading the way. “The leading beauty cosmetic company in the United States is Procter & Gamble, making up 14.2 percent of the market and generating 29.9 billion U.S. dollars in net sales.” This is just in make-up, not in the numerous other household items they produce, including cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, and other such products.

Advertisements are a crucial step in making these kinds of profits. Companies such as Cover girl, Revlon, and L’Oreal depend on female actresses and athletes in television and print ads featuring their latest products, all promising lasting coverage, long luscious eyelashes, and smoky sexy eyes that will make you feel incredible. There are products such as  “The Rocket: Volum’ EXPRESS” Mascara, promising results such as “8X bigger. Smoother. Even.” or Revlon’s “Nearly Naked Makeup & Pressed Powder: UNDETECTABLE COVERAGE. UNBELIEVABLE COMPLEXION.”, worn by their latest model Emma Stone: “Makeup so refreshingly light it melts right in, creating a fresh, even look. Pressed powder blends seamlessly with a lightweight feel”. Products like these promise women of long-lasting, perfect results, that are worn by photo-shopped models. Every female consumer knows they do not last long or deliver these perfect results, especially as good as these:

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Ads like these are misleading to consumers. In an article titled “Celeb Makeup Ads Banned for Being Too Photoshopped”, author Leslie Horn revealed that back in 2011, a L’Oreal foundation ad featuring movie star Julia Roberts “with an unattainable immaculate complexion has been yanked in the U.K.”, because “the magic of Photoshop can make the actress, or anybody, look like a flawless 20-something”, not the product itself. It’s gimmicks like these that get women to buy these products, thinking that by doing so they will be perceived as beautiful. Here is a picture of the photo ad on the left, and a real photo of Julia Roberts on the right.

julia roberts retouchSource

It’s interesting that Julia Roberts’ ad was pulled from circulation, yet countless ads remain to be pulled by authorities. Emma Stone’s face is just as unblemished as Roberts’, as is every other make-up ad that we see today. All make-up ads should be held accountable to honestly sell their products to consumers. Honest ads are so important because they are physical representations of how the media thinks women should, and do, look.

I personally asked other women what make-up they chose to wear, and why they wore it. The responses varied greatly. One female friend insisted that she needs her foundation to hide acne scars; another does not mind leaving the house without makeup, instead reserving it for special occasions. The overall consensus of the girls who answered was that most did not need makeup, but instead wanted to wear it for special occasions or as a slight ego boost on certain days. One 20 year old female said “I see so many girls uncomfortable unless they put their make up on, and I want to be the friend that is an encouragement in case they ever decide to wear less-or even think about it. I may not start a revolution, but I love seeing friends comfortable in their own skin.”

Men who answered said that it was not makeup that made a girl pretty, but confidence.  One male friend said “[Women’s] beauty shows in the self-confidence that they have and how much they value themselves.” Self-confidence is hard to possess if you present your face differently than a large percentage of the population. Another male friend observed that “most of the girls I know who feel uncomfortable without makeup say it isn’t for themselves, but so they won’t be judged by other women”.

Looking at an issue that involves millions of women is hard to grasp; it is easy to think that this issue does not involve you daily. Think about the women you interact with daily, whether it is at school or work. Many female students I know, averaging from ages 17-30, all wear different types of make-up. Many wear hardly any, especially when final exams are approaching. Approximately half of the women I see daily are wearing dark eyeliner, some wearing too much. Finally, there’s the few who wear everything. The most observable association with these different make-up styles is to look at this woman’s friends. It is in this social circle that women are most influenced: if all of your friends wear heavy eye make-up, soon you too will be trying it. If your friends wear light make-up, you will be tempted to lighten things up.

As a result of writing this article, I examined my own personal usage of make-up. I wear eyeliner almost every day, accompanied by eye shadow on days I want to dress up.  I stopped using eyeliner for a few days, but still used concealer for some slight blemishes on my face. The first day was the most difficult; I felt like I had forgotten my morning cup of coffee. This experiment  opened up my eyes to how much I depended on a little black stick for the way I felt about myself. I possess self-confidence, but wearing eyeliner boosts it even higher.

In conclusion, I want to assure that a woman who wears heavy make-up is not a bad woman; neither is a woman that wears none. The problem with make-up begins when a woman wears too much to cover up her lack of self-confidence. Self-confidence, not eyeliner, will carry a woman far in life. Covering up your acne scars or pimples with foundation is not bad either. What is important in putting your best foot forward is concentrating on the inner self, and then the outer.

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