Posts Tagged ‘appearance’
Researching via the internet, is always more interesting, than researching at a library. Inevitably, there are interesting distractions along the way. I was doing research on the subject of a future blog, when I ended up on one of those wild Google chases. One minute, I’m making helpful notes, the next I’m reading an article about why women have embraced waxing themselves bare–as in Brazilian bare.
The article was written by a professional in the field of psychology. It asked the question “WHY?”
A very good question. Anyone who has never experienced a Brazilian wax, has to ask, “Why?!?”.
Any anyone who has had the experience of laying on a table for hot wax and hair-pulling should be asking the same question.
I’m not a psychologist, but the answer is simple. It is because men have eyes.
Women have embraced it because it makes them feel better. It makes them feel better, because it makes them believe they look better. Men are initially attracted to women because of what their eyes tell them is attractive–the beauty eye-deal.
(This makes me wonder what we would look like if men couldn’t see. Since natural eyebrows, lip fuzz and body fat are more tactilely interesting than a uniformly thin and smooth body, one has to wonder what our beauty aesthetic would be in a world of blind men. Needless to say, make-up and tanning would be obsolete.)
Me suspects the bare-down-there look was popularized by the porn industry, but no matter, it’s just one of many very bizarre or extreme things women do to mold themselves to the beauty eye-deal.
Popular now, are things like having botulism or any number of substances injected into the face. We can have fat surgically removed or d-cups surgically implanted. We are told it’s the fault of the media for propagating unrealistic ideals, but are they really to blame?
Before you answer, let me remind you this isn’t new. Women have always done very bizarre things to make themselves more attractive to men. In modern society, in primitive tribes, in remote places, and in ancient history; there has always been some unnatural standard to which women insanely aspired–the Asian practice of foot-binding comes to mind, but it’s one of many.
Throughout time, women who were starving wanted to appear well-fed, while women who were well-fed, starved themselves to be thin. Today, women spend money to cultivate bronzy tans, in contrast to the age when women ate arsenic to achieve pallid white skin. Curly hair is straightened, straight hair is curled. Long hair is cropped, short hair is augmented with extensions. Thousands are spent on everything from eyelash extensions to acrylic nails.
In other cultures, beauty is enhanced by body modifications like tattoos & scarification. Nostrils, earlobes, lips and even necks are unnaturally stretched to make women more desirable. The beauty practices of other cultures may seem strange to us, but are they really any more unnatural than what we do? Even some of the things we wear, like high-heels and thong underwear, are indicative of the unnatural discomfort we will endure to please men.
In contrast, to what women will do, the list of the unnatural things men do to make themselves attractive is much shorter. What do men do that is unnatural? Shave and wear clothes. That’s about it.
We are constantly conforming to male ideals. Interestingly, the most misogynistic of these, to most of the the Western World, is the burqa, which is said to hide a woman’s outward beauty, so that only her true beauty can be seen. That’s a refreshing idea, but I’m not ready to suggest we all shroud-up to swap vanity for virtues. Nevertheless, it seems to me the entire collective of women across time and hemispheres needs a reminder, we are already beautiful.
Men wrongly believe women talk about nothing–because they get lost in the number of words women use. They also falsely believe everything should be distilled down to a few important facts, but women know it’s the details that matter. Focusing on the details has me completely frustrated with mascara, or more accurately, the perfect mascara.
For women, it’s all about the details–small subtleties that make a difference. While, women will buy a dress because of a small detail or another shade of lipstick because it matches a favorite blouse or sweater–men have trouble identifying lipstick in any color other than red. And though, sometimes the attention to detail is intended to be noticed by men, it’s usually only noticed by other women.
This is particularly true of make-up. I have yet to hear a straight man say, “That woman needs more make-up.“ Though men generally like the way women look when they are attractively made-up, most men say they prefer women with little if any make-up. Though they may decry the use of cosmetics, it doesn’t keep them from being attracted to a pretty face, especially when they haven’t a clue how much make-up they’re seeing.
Men do notice eyes. No matter what else they like, eyes are usually near the top of the list. Whether it is because of their appearance or what they reveal about a woman, men see eyes. (Sometimes it takes them awhile to see them, but after they’ve looked at everything else they find interesting, they usually find the eyes above the other attractions.)
Tut-tut, enough about men! I never wore mascara until a few years ago when my once-show-stopping eyelashes, seemed to need an understudy. My first mascara was chosen with very little discretion from a drugstore. It cost about $5. Fortunately, it turned out to be a good one. It became my lash-booster of choice, until it was discontinued.
With cosmetics counters offering hundreds of choices, it didn’t seem like a big deal to find another. What’s the difference? It’s black stuff in a tube tube, eh?
You’d think so–unless you had experienced this frustration. It was the beginning of the ongoing quest to find the perfect mascara. Buying and trying tube after tube, I was amazed at how many different kinds of mascara exist and how different each was.
Like one grieving a loss, I was in denial. I refused to believe it was really gone. I checked store after store, hoping to find my brand. When this proved futile, I moved into the second stage of grieving–anger. I contacted the company convinced that it must have been renamed or repackaged. No response. Eventually, my anger turned to acceptance. It was time to move on. I had come to terms with my loss and decided to explore new possibilities. I chose another mascara of the same brand. Like many to follow, within a few hours, this smeary concoction gave me the appearance of having been on a cocaine bender.
I tried one whose new and improved brush style promised no clumps. Several no-clump mascaras later, I am convinced there isn’t such a thing. Each brand promised something, length, curl, volume, fullness–I found most of them to be more of the same. I tried products costing from $5 to $25. Went to the high-end cosmetics store and asked them for a recommendation, they assured me that the overpriced mascara I’d just purchased was revolutionary, innovative and sure to become a best-seller.
I’ve lost track of how much I’ve spent on the dozens of styles of mascara I tried. Some gave me caterpillar lashes, others turned my eyes into Alice Cooper-like stars.
I decided to throw all those tubes out in favor of Latisse, a lash-growing product. Latisse produced noticeable results, quickly, but I had trouble remembering to put it on. It is a pricey product and the results are contingent on faithful usage.
Mascara is not a one-size fits all item. Some have long lashes but too few of them. Some have plenty of lashes which are too short. Some want their lashes longer or darker or fuller. All I wanted was a teensy bit of help, to make mine look the way they used to. Just as every woman has a favorite color, a perfect pair of jeans, or a perfect outfit, there is a perfect mascara for every woman. I am still looking for mine.
I receive a lot of compliments on my hair. Just as I don’t believe everyone who tells me they don’t color their hair, many people don’t believe I color mine.
I love my hair, but every couple of years, I get tired of the time spent maintaining the illusion that my hair is as completely raven, as it was when I was 19.
At those times, I throw up my hands and I throw down the towel. I say goodbye to the gloves and little vials of hair color, as I resolve to go natural. I am woman, the hair is but a small detail. I am so much more than a great head of espresso-colored hair .
In that brief moment of time, I almost convince myself it is time for the world to recognize my natural beauty. Then, I catch a glimpse of stray gray and continue as before.
I ponder my girlfriends who have forsaken hair color, refusing to surrender their identities to somebody else’s vision of beauty. Some of them also face the world boldly without makeup. Unnaturally natural, these women hold their un-dyed heads high.
For the most part they are educated and well-employed. They are women who have the respect of both men and other women. They are women I admire, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking about how something like Gold Dust Shade # 12, or Harvest Honey Shade #14, might earn them a whole new level of admiration.
I spend the day with one of my girlfriends from this category. For most of the time we are together, I’m wondering if our friendship is strong enough to stand up to a little well-intended suggestion that she try a teensy bit of powder or a smidgen of blush. I search the polite phrases I know for the proper way to suggest to a great skin-toner. Because she’s brilliant, I’m trying to listen to everything she says, but instead I’m focusing on how lifeless her eyes seem without mascara.
If she were to have a “make-over”, would it affect the way she were perceived? Would the world listen more intently to what she had to say, if her lipstick were Power-Tie Red?
Possibly, but probably not.
I can’t speak for them, but I know I’d be able to concentrate better on what she was saying, if I weren’t so distracted by wanting her to conform to my own notion of attractiveness.
Loafers, mules, pumps, clogs, boots, sandals, oxfords–I’ve worn them all. From plastic to exotic leathers, from discount to designer–I’ve stepped out in just about everything–sweet abundance of shoes.
The things one could write about women & their shoes are endless, and why not? Each and every day, they are the vehicle which carries us to meet whatever challenges the day brings.
At the most basic level they are essential. On a more esoteric level, they are an extension of ourselves. They are what we stand on. They can make us feel graceful, or make us feel inept at walking. Some empower, some embarrass.
When I was a girl, there was a common belief a person’s shoes could tell you about them–the implication being shoes would expose a person’s upbringing. This was probably more true then, when most people didn’t have a closet full of shoes. I don’t know if the same could be said today, but shoes still convey information. They tell the world who we think we are, and sometimes they tell us who we are.
Some time ago, I was in negotiations with my teen son, regarding shoes he wanted. The shoes he wanted cost four times what a comparable pair from another store would; the only difference was the way they would make him feel.
I understand. I remember how shoes can transform us. I remember when a new pair of shoes, was enough to convince me that I could run faster or jump higher. I remember the magic of shoes.
Once upon a time, I had a pair or red leather Mary Janes. They made me feel special. On linoleum, they had a little squeak. Maybe that little squeal was trying to tell me life would never again be as carefree. I only know, they made me love being a girl.
In high school, almost everyone wore a particular brand of athletic shoe–everyone but me. I wore look-alikes my mother purchased from the discount store. I don’t think they fooled anyone, but for a time, they fooled me into believing I fit-in.
I didn’t have them long, before they were stolen. I might have been angry, if I hadn’t felt so bad for the girl desperate enough to steal such pathetic shoes. It’s been years, but I still remember the lesson those shoes taught me.
I’ll never forget the lovely silk shoes I wore the day I wed. As an excited bride, those shoes filled me with romantic idealism and made me feel like a princess. They made me feel lucky. Exquisite they were, a short walk in those shoes and my life was forever transformed–for better or worse–mostly better.
I wish I’d been wearing those shoes when I went to visit my new husband’s family. Instead, I wore a favorite pair of boots. They were good boots, built to last, but their leather had become creased and worn. I remember feeling, that I was sized up, as being no better than those worn boots. If only those boots, could have spoken for both of us, they probably would have said, “Ignore them, they can’t tell by looking, what we’re made of.“
As I write this, I am wearing a pair of very over-priced “flip-flops”. Third pair of them I’ve owned. I bought the first pair, because they were a brand that appeals to me. After I bought them, I later discovered they were uncommonly comfortable. They were a little splurge, but worth every penny. It’s has nothing to do with the status logo, which tells people I spent too much on them; it is simply they way they feel on my feet. When I put them on I know I am part of a privileged class. Not because of that brand, but because my feet don’t hurt the way they did when I waitressed my way through college. Without saying a word, they remind me that I’ve been very blessed in this life.
There’s more . . having once been embarrassed, by not having the same shoes as my peers, these shoes remind me how hypocritical it seems not to buy my son the expensive shoes he desires. Unlike my mother, I can afford to buy name-brand shoes for my son. What I can’t afford, is to allow him to believe, he is more acceptable because of what he wears. I want him to understand it’s the person in the shoes that matters.
I’ve learned a few things from my own shoes. I’d like my son to wear shoes that will help him know what my shoes have taught me—even in the most fabulous pair, I am so much more than my shoes.