The Beauty Myth
“The last thing the consumer index wants men and women to do is to figure out how to love one another: The $1.5 trillion retail-sales industry depends on sexual estrangement between men and women, and is fueled by sexual dissatisfaction. “-Naomi Wolf “The Beauty Myth”
With so many items in our pantry lending themselves to topical use, and what with the cosmetic industry not set up to endure an Apocalypse, it only makes sense to seed a new understanding of beauty that does not require a $1.5 TRILLION(!) translation.
Our consumerist culture’s malformed understanding of beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder; true beauty however, is not. True beauty is a feeling and it exists not in the observer but in the space between the observer and the observed as an engaged exchange via the senses. To be beautiful, that is full of beauty, is to have submitted wholly to this experience. It is nowhere close to being the perfect fitting of a physical person into an ever-shifting societal standard. And yet… $1.5 TRILLION(!)
Along with my slow plodding yet conscious and intended weening of myself from a consumerist lifestyle, the last place I’d considered re-evaluating was cosmetics. And not because of being an addict in denial but because I was/am a Tomboy ( a species fast depopulating as baby girls are sold into Princessdom) and really didn’t feel like it was a big point of focus for me. I was a funny looking kid shaped like a potato and so the pressure and the programming to be pretty was placed elsewhere and I was free to be (fill in blank). To this exact point; during career day at school in the third grade all the kids had to choose from a box of index cards with different careers on them. This was done in the library so I was obviously hiding under the study cubicles reading Wizard of Oz books while I was supposed to be choosing and researching my future career. Somehow, in the midst of my Oz induced reverie, I noticed the mad dash of kids putting things away and sprang into action- straight for the career box. Picked a card blindly then went to the teacher and said “ I got one too!” Her and I both looked at it for the first time, it said “Model” and she said “better pick another one”…pahaaaaa!
So even as a grown woman with no remaining potato-like features, I have been decidedly low-key with cosmetics, until recently when I began to observe when and how I did use them. Basically it boiled down to being in the male gaze, ie. Public. And how, albeit subtle, it was a form of protection- a mask from behind which I could observe but safely remain unobserved, my real face unseen behind a veil of intention to cover it. So I did what I do, which is start a social experiment using myself because I can’t afford to offer University students $20 and a bus token to do it.
I went out to places I would normally wear makeup to and observed myself and the interactions I had with others. What became most abundantly clear is that “exposing” myself in this way had the opposite effect one would assume from vulnerability- I felt safe, maybe even free. The social anxiety and awkwardness I often have dissolved in the tonic of this decision to stop attempting to be what my culture demanded of me which is to emulate a 2 dimensional beauty “ideal” while feeling estranged and insecure in the world. And no it did not mean that everyone appreciated my natural beauty, there are many men and women that are so beholden to the beauty myth that they only resonate with others who show signs of that endorsement and feel my blatant disregard for cheekbone accentuation is an abomination… or more accurately just plain didn’t notice me. And so the gaze which unnerves me, the one I feel I have to protect myself from as it sweeps over the population with its single (it helps me to picture it as the Eye of Sauron) judging, critical, objectifying perception, went right passed me! Didn’t even stop to look which meant I was free to connect as myself with others who would see me as a human being with actual thoughts- how novel!
The Cosmetic industry manufactures then monopolizes on insecurity on every level; visual, touch, smell, taste ( I mean how can flavored condoms possibly be an improvement on things?!) and in every sense the modus operandi is to mask what is inherently unique to that person; their themness. Then (and this is the evil genius part) they sell it back to you as if the shade of lipstick you choose sets you apart, makes you special, when in actual fact it creates a badge that you wear announcing your conformity to a cultural beauty standard that was written long before your birth by people who couldn’t even conceive of you let alone give a shit about your health and well being… $1.5 TRILLION(!) later…
Imagine if we were taught from small that beauty was that overflowing feeling in your heart that you get when in wonder of nature and that humans, as nature, are conduits of that experience… and that to feel it meant you were it…that no amount of potions and lotions could achieve it for you and all you had to do to access it was be alive? Sounds beautiful… now how we gonna spend our next 1.5 TRILLION(!) peoples?!!!
Taken from the Plos ONE published study: Imaging of Ultraweak Spontaneous Photon Emission from Human Body Displaying Diurnal Rhythm
"The human body literally glimmers. The intensity of the light emitted by the body is 1000 times lower than the sensitivity of our naked eyes. Ultraweak photon emission is known as the energy released as light through the changes in energy metabolism. We successfully imaged the diurnal change of this ultraweak photon emission with an improved highly sensitive imaging system using cryogenic charge-coupled device (CCD) camera. We found that the human body directly and rhythmically emits light. The diurnal changes in photon emission might be linked to changes in energy metabolism."