The beauty industry is a realm unto itself, a world full of smoke and mirrors and one which fascinates me endlessly. I am a young woman and to a certain extent I feel that gives me the right to be a little too in to my looks, by my own admission. I enjoy makeup because of the benefits I can gain from it. It makes me feel, beautiful, happy and at my best. My last point being to me the most important; for me makeup is not about ‘hiding flaws’ it is about enhancing the natural beauty that lies beneath. But what is it that makes someone beautiful? A hairline scar on a bottom lip, a dusting of freckles that scatter a face, a speck on the iris of a left eye, a dimpled chin that a father once told his young child was formed by the imprint of god’s thumb when he cradled her face and said “she’s a gooden.” The face I have just described is my best friend’s face, one that I have seen countless times and have studied over the years, but would I find her so beautiful if these “imperfections” were eradicated? If her skin was dyed a shade of tangerine and her multi-tonal hair bleached a colour of flat yellow. If her soft eye lashes became spidery legs and her freckled complexion a blank canvas. These idiosyncrasies are what makes her different, unique, her.
Recently I read an article in the Times Magazine titled ‘Living Dolls the Rise of the teenage girl clones’ By Janice Turner (27.07.13 edition). This article grabbed my attention firstly as it was the chosen front page feature. It showed a photograph of a teenage girl with a full face of makeup. The photo was labelled with the makeup traits that the teenage girl on the front cover was wishing to achieve, flawless skin, straightened hair, shaped eyebrows, lashings of mascara, smudge-free eyeliner, fake tan. To me the labels seemed to disassociate the sections of her face from one another, pulling the face a part as if they were sections of a puzzle which can be reconstructed on any face. Turner describes the look as a ‘template’ set in place by celebrities. This article uses Amy Childs the Queen of reality TV show ‘The Only way is Essex’ as the cookie cutter by which the homogeneous generation of teenage girls are duplicated. Although I do disagree with the blanket format of makeup that seems to be the current trend, particularly amongst young women, I do not necessarily agree that it is just a fixation which has appeared within the current generation. In truth with the expansion of the internet in to everyone’s home and in to everyone’s pocket I feel that the secrets of the beauty industry are more widely available, so younger woman are taking more of an interest in the way that they look merely because they can. Personally the Amy Child'
s ‘Barbie doll’ look is not my style but it is not the first time that a celebrity has cultivated the ‘look’ of the moment. What interests me far more is not the kind of makeup which is popular at any given time but the reasons behind why this trend has occurred.
Within the body of Turner’s article she makes references about how high achieving women should not be so in to their looks. This is a concept I struggle with. Is beauty merely a superficial concept only paid patronage by the vain and insecure? Or is it a mirror of society? An escape from the trials and tribulations of the era? A way to gain power? Show personality? Although to many makeup seems trivial, why is it then that in times of war and despair that women still took pride in their appearance. The shape of a lipstick was inspired by the shape of bullets in the munitions factories during the First World War in which the women worked. In these testing times women still took pride in their appearance. If makeup is seen to be dissociated with academically high achieving young women then why is it that one of the most powerful, intelligent and well educated women in history would not leave the house without her deep red lipstick? The Iron lady’s fiery hair was a representation of her character. In fact when she ran for her place in parliament she was advised to change her hair style, giving it height at the top, in order to make her appear more important.
I believe that the aim of makeup should not be to hide ones individuality but enhance it. I do not agree with using makeup as a mask, and I think the mark of a true makeup artist it not whether they stick to the ‘rules’ of applying makeup in a certain way, but that they can enhance someone’s natural beauty, whilst making them look as if they are wearing no, or very little, makeup at all.