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My Quest to Maintain an Imperfect Complexion

October 14, 2012

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with makeup for many years. My distaste for makeup grew during my acne-ridden teens. Makeup is not a sexy look over acne cream.

It wasn’t until college that I realized why I “hated” makeup. I hated it because it masked my flaws and insecurities, and I felt like I was conforming to a world that required me, as a woman, to appear “flawless.” This is, of course, an impossibility, yet Cover Girl and advertisements constantly tell us otherwise. I’ve read the literature on makeup and feminism with arguments on the pro and con sides. Pro: Makeup helps women to feel beautiful and positive about themselves. Con: It makes women think that looking beautiful is the same as feeling beautiful on the inside. I think it also brings up a larger issue about why a woman’s beauty is so important. What about her hopes and accomplishments?

I was inspired to bring up this discussion because I recently went to purchase some foundation. Here’s a synopsis of the conversation I had with the “makeup specialist” at Lancome while she was finding my appropriate “shade.”

Makeup Specialist: This provides good coverage but really you need to deal with your skin. Do you see someone?”

Me: Yes, I use creams. I used to go to a dermatologist.

Makeup Specialist: Well, clearly it’s not working. Right? I mean look at your skin. I know that dermatologists think they know skin, but I know skin. I’ve been working at it for years, and Lancome has some great products. Women come to me constantly and tell me how well it works for them. Because I mean this foundation is great for coverage but you need to deal with the other issues.

Me (what I actually said): Oh well, all I want is the foundation.

Me (what I was really thinking but afraid to say): Listen woman, I’ve been dealing with skin problems for years and have tried many different creams, pills, etc. And I think I look pretty damn good. I’m sorry that my skin is not perfect, and I’m sure yours isn’t since you’re wearing three pounds of makeup. The real problem is not my skin. It’s the company you work for. They’ve brainwashed you into thinking that makeup and a flawless complexion are always required to make a woman feel happy and competent.

But, I didn’t say that… I left the store with my foundation and whole bunch of insecurities I didn’t have before. I’m sad to live in a world where beauty holds such value over anything else in a person’s life.

For further discussion on these topics, consider these links:

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