Daily Archives: 10/06/2009

Makeover Needed?

Part 2 of Chapter 11 of the book Looks

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Elizabeth Arden

Nowadays, women leave the house with makeup in their purses. Long ago, only women with makeup were stage performers, or prostitutes. In the 1800s, makeup was frowned upon. The general consensus was that only loose women wore makeup.

It all began in the 1900s. Pharmacist Paul Beiersdort developed the first cream that chemically bound oil and water. His firm is presently known as Nivea. In the United States, cosmetics’ rise to prominence grew out of the rivalry of Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. Both believed that beauty was linked with health. As a result, they combined facials with diet and exercise classes. With Max Factor, they build the foundations of modern marketing. These two women used celebrity endorsements and magazine spreads to advertise their products. Not surprisingly, both brands still remain active.

img_mainI thought Max Factor was the name of a mascara.

The beauty industry consolidated. Unilever acquired product lines, like Dove. Estee Lauder got Stila, MAC, and Bobbi Brown.

L'OREAL BeyonceL’Oreal is now the world’s largest cosmetic merchant. They reported their annual sales in 2006 to be 15.8 billion.

This industry invests heavily in marketing. They’re not above a little nonsense. There may be scientific breakthroughs now and then, but their money really doesn’t go into research. L’Oreal always talks about product patents, and new ideas that new research has thought up, but it stands that their money doesn’t go into research for new products but rather marketing and advertising and hiring celebrities and models to showcase their products, like Beyonce on the right.

shiseidofirmingcreamOthers use pseudoscience. Shiseido had their Body Creator sin gel, which claimed that its ingredients could melt away over 2 inches of body fat in a month without the need of diet or exercise. Sounds familiar? It’s not that much different from Nivea’s My Silhouette cream that basically claims that their white tea melts fat cells until they don’t grow back. No need to exercise, either.

Pantene uses a Vitamin B ingredient. This certainly attracts the shoppers. However, vitamins cannot be absorbed through skin or hair.

However, Dr. Patzer says, we’re living in an age where dreams are put forth as reality. We don’t know what’s true and what’s not, and we don’t bother to do research, either. Google isn’t much help, because there’s as much wrong information floating around the web as there is right.

shiseido-the-makeup-silky-eye-shadow-quadDr. Patzer states,

To forget this is to forget that a movie or TV show is merely entertainment. And while one may sometimes learn valid life lessons from art, it is art, it is artifice, it is not reality–it is a construct from beginning to end.

The growth of the beauty industry is fueled by the power of the media, along with the physical appeal phenomenon we’ve talked about in earlier posts. Advertising depicts the beautiful with the glamours lifestyles in efforts to sell their goods and services of every sort, not just cosmetics. This all contributes to the power and persuasiveness of physical appeal.

Sarah Jessica Parker: face of Garnier's ads

Sarah Jessica Parker: face of Garnier's ads

In our celebrity worshipping culture, the youthful appearance is held up as an ideal. We’re told that science and technology will allow to remain young, beautiful, and vital. However, this helps feed our fears of growing old.

This isn’t for our benefit but for the benefit of the industry itself, continues the author. The seek to control how we view and measure ourselves, and what we choose as important to us. Not to mention that the industry dictates what we must do to be the perfect person.

Yes, we do want to  look more beautiful. We want to be around more beautiful beautiful, and read about beautiful people. However, no matter how much products we buy that vows to make us look sexier, no matter what procedures we get to make ourselves more desirable, it seems that few of us really feel better about our own physical attractiveness.

Yet we live in a time where in wealthier communities, parents give breast implants to their daughters as high school graduation presents. 88 year olds choose breast reduction. Instead of tea parties, women have Botox parties.

03859380614We may say that this is just the way it is. But anthropologists studied a tribe in Africa. They wanted to see whether the physical appeal stereotypes of that tribe had been influenced by the media. They found that, opposite of our like of hunky men, girls liked slender men. Another researcher showed Men’s Health to the tribe members, with some spreads of male body builders. One old guy looked at the bulging pectorals of a male body builder. “Was it a man, or a very, very strong woman?”

Do we really need a makeover?

Or is it our culture that needs the makeover?

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