Posts Tagged ‘image’
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.
The kids started it.
There was a piercing, followed by another piercing. The second piercing was followed by a discreet tattoo. There was a more daring piercing, then a less discreet tattoo. Soon, the piercings were more numerous and the tattoos no longer hidden. Eventually, it wasn’t just the kids, but also the mothers and fathers eager to show off their latest ink.
Still conservative enough to feel saddened by young girls who had opted to let their bodies become a canvas for graphic designs, I realized visible body alterations were only the tip of the iceberg. The trend of body modifications was becoming more the norm, than the exception; but while the 20-somethings were embracing glass gauged ears, and tongue barbells, their mothers (and sometimes fathers) were choosing everything from Botox and lipo-sculpting to silicone add-on parts.
Hold on! Back up the car! Did you see that?
It wasn’t the kids who started it. Rewind that tape.
Not the kids–Mom started it–the same mother who told her children they were perfect, special, unique-one-of-a-kind, & limited edition.
Mom did her best to convince the kids they were already uniquely perfect, but it was a “do as I say, not as I do” thing, leaving many feeling the need to do things to make themselves stand out. It would seem that outrageous bod-mods would be a completely unnecessary expression of individuality, unless those who do them aren’t all that unique. In the same spirit as the t-shirt that says, “I’m unique, just like everybody else”, staunch individuals started doing the same thing everyone else was doing.
A recent internet foray caused me to be distracted by a photo gallery of celebrity tattoos. Though I have very little interest in the lives of celebrities, I was fascinated to see that everyone from Miley Cyrus to Helen Mirren were getting inked. I wasted too much time gawking and scratching my head, before being drawn into a second gallery of celebrity plastic surgeries. I couldn’t look away, and was soon after browsing a third gallery of disastic-plastic surgeries.
It seams that even non-celebs can gain celebrity exposure by having excessive “procedures”, like Cindy Jackson, the woman who spent countless thousands to look like Barbie or the freakish socialite turned crazy-cat, Jocelyn Wildenstein.
We’ve come along way from the age when plastic surgeons specialized in reconstructive surgeries like fixing bad noses or large ears. The surgeries were becoming more cosmetic, as younger and more attractive individuals began opting for procedures intended to eliminate minor flaws or make them look like someone else.
I can understand and embrace the reasons women seek cosmetic procedures–but I wonder why we, as a culture, are so dissatisfied with what we see in the mirror. A little this (nip) or that (tuck) to reconcile what’s in the mirror–I’m down with that, but it’s like having a room that seems okay–except for the worn carpet. Replace the carpet, and suddenly, the drapes seem dowdy and the coffee table looks dated.
One day you’re a normal person, fixing a legitimate flaw, but if that turns out not to be enough, it’s only a matter of time before you’re riding the rapids down the Joan Rivers or crossing into the The Tropic of Michael Jackson–headed toward Neverland.
The problem is each little procedure brings us closer, but NEVER close enough to the thing we can NEVER achieve–perfection. The things we do to become more beautiful, make us less unique. The things we do to make ourselves more unique, can make us less beautiful.
In a perfect world, we’d all look into the eyes in the mirror and see our own unique unspoiled beauty, but this is not a perfect world and the mirror is a fickle friend. Some days it blows you a kiss and tells you you’re stunning. Other days, it winces as your eyes meet. Even if you could achieve perfection, it wouldn’t make you happy. You’d no longer fit in with the rest of us.
At the top of the list is the suntan. Coco Chanel popularized the look after returning from a vacation on The Riviera with sun-darkened skin–causing many to want to emulate the fashion icon. Previously, the suntan was considered “working class”–the look of a laborer.
Similarly crazy is in a country with an abundance of food, is women striving to look as if they’ve barely survived a famine. If the American ideal of beauty made sense, we’d all be plump & pasty. It’s nonsensical, but us gals buy into it. As part of our feminine mystique, we’ve grown accustomed to trying to conform to and match an ideal.
Male readers, I beg of you. STOP. Stop now. You’re better off not knowing. It will be much easier for you to pretend, if you don’t have to acknowledge reality. Hold on to the sweet notion, that beautiful women only have hair on their silky-tressed heads. Run along now, so us girls can talk.
When I was a girl, I was convinced I was very hairy. In my mind, I was the probable missing link. My mother (who barely had body hair) wasn’t down with hair removal. She like many others, was convinced that removing it would cause one to grow more hair. Not only that, but to her armpit hair was too closely related to pubic hair–therefore it wasn’t even something to be discussed.
She would have had a fit if she’d known my older sister used Nair, so my sister cleverly hid the Nair in an Avon Here’s My Heart sachet jar. It was a great decoy until the day I decided to borrow her sachet. The perm-solution smell was the first clue.
There was the first time I tried to wax my brows. I’d seen the neighbor lady do it dozens of times–it seemed straightforward enough until I accidentally removed most of my left brow. I am still thankful there weren’t many pictures taken of me that summer.
Eventually she came around. I was allowed to wax the brows and shave the other stuff. She warned me it would grow in thicker. It didn’t.
So, over the years, I’ve tried almost ever method of hair removal.
Mine has been cut,
There are hens at the Tyson plant that haven’t been as through as many processes as this chick.
My favorite is laser. Not as cheap or convenient as a quick shave in the shower, but so very worth the time & money. Laser-scorched armpits? It’s a very good thing. I’ve almost forgotten when sleeveless, required shaving.
Waxing is popular, which proves that when it comes to beauty, women are sheep–except we prefer having hair ripped out forcibly from the most sensitive parts of our bodies, to being shorn. Sisters, you have to know men would never do that for women. Though there are men who are devotees of waxing, but it rarely has anything to do with women. Enough said.
So yesterday, I decided to try something new. As an alternative to my regular eyebrow grooming, I decided to try “threading”. I had heard it was virtually painless. It was cheap enough–and what the heck? I am YOUR guinea pig.
Threading has only recently arrived in my suburb. On a whim, I drove to the mall to see what I’d been missing–a very risky move.
Like the rest of our ideas about beauty–the perfect brow varies from woman to woman. I have learned this the hard way, after leaving a salon with eyebrows that were strangely menacing. There are many styles to choose from, that day I got the “Cruella D’eville.”
I might just have easily been given one of the many other popular styles.
The Natural - The quintessential all free-spirited, free-range brow. I was born with that one and have spent most of my adult life trying to divorce myself from that look.
The Tia Juana – Strongly arched and precisely shaped. After the age of 27, this one makes everyone look like Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest.
The Cholita – Total eyebrow nudity replaced with Sharpie art. It has a sort of “Don’t mess with me, I’ll cut you vibe” You have to fear a girl who can leave the house looking like that.
The Caterpillar - A soft fuzzy little curve–harmless, approachable, and friendly–if you like that kind of thing.
I was merely hoping to leave looking, more or less, the same as when I came in. I’ve spent half of my adult life trying to get figure out how I liked them and I don’t want anyone messing them up. I looked at a chart that seemed to have every eyebrow shape–except mine and Andy Rooney’s.
Knowing that there are all kinds of ways this can go wrong, I ask for just a little touch up.
I was seated in something like a dentist’s chair. Lulu began twisting a length of dental floss into a something between scissors and Cat’s in the Cradle, as she went to work. I had intended to pay close attention to the process, but having my brow hairs twisted out made my eyes water.
It took less than 5 minutes for her to fully groom my brows and give me a hand mirror with which to inspect the result. It was surprisingly painful, but no worse than waxing or plucking. On the upside, it was very quick–a huge plus. No matter what service I’m receiving, I always appreciate efficiency.
Time spent: Approximately four minutes.
Pain Meter: Somewhat painful, but not bad.
Cost: $15. With tip.
Convenience: Excellent and efficient.
Result: Nicely nicely groomed brows.
Overall, I’d say my first adventure with threading was a big success. Not sure if I’ll become a regular, but knowing it’s done in less time than it takes for the kids to reach the The Food Court makes it likely.