According to a 2003 article in The Economist, medieval noblewomen swallowed arsenic and dabbed on bats’ blood to improve their complexions; 18th-century Americans prized the warm urine of young boys to erase their freckles; and Victorian ladies removed their ribs to give themselves a wasp waist. In his autobiography, Charles Darwin noted a “universal passion for adornment”, often involving “wonderfully great” suffering.
The history of cosmetics spans at least 6,000 years and is present in almost every society on earth. Next to creating tools, fire, language, and religion, this is the oldest learned behavior of our species. Makeup is expensive, time consuming, it might be dreadfully unhealthy, and it’s extremely sexist. In this age of equal rights, fair pay, and freedom of sexual orientation, painted faces are the only sexist rule even the most distraught feminists seem to excuse.
Attitudes, risks, and pain has not stopped cosmetic passion from creating a $160 billion-a-year global industry, encompassing make-up, skin and hair care, fragrances, cosmetic surgery, health clubs and diet pills. Americans spend more each year on beauty than they do on education.
Most men do appreciate a pretty female face. And most women would much rather hide unsightly blemishes and imperfections to avoid being judged by peers, especially as we age. Unfortunately, being pretty confers enormous genetic and social advantages. Attractive people are judged to be more intelligent. They tend to earn more. They are more likely to marry. Aside from the discrimination and rampant narcissism, there’s nothing wrong with dolling up with makeup.
By 2017, you’d think that our society would be mature and confident enough to toss away the makeup. However, sixty million Americans elected a celebrity clown to our highest government position and we still go to war over religion, so nothing surprises me anymore.
Ladies, it begins with you. You can change this horribly sexist waste of time, money, and resources. Put your hair up in a man-bun, let the beauty of your natural lips shine, and blink recklessly with nothing more than your real eyelashes. Ditch the six-thousand-year-old rules and spend some more time appreciating a sunrise, or staring at the miracle children you brought forth into this world. I challenge you to go into work looking like a disheveled militant feminist.
Do it. I DARE you. You won’t.