Do You Use Make-Up to Enhance Or Hide?

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

Back in the late 60’s, my M.O. included large hoop earrings, ironed hair, and a splash of Oh de London, before leaving the house with my transistor radio to do the beach strut. I thought I looked pretty dam good. That is, until one particular girl –Yvonne–caused all the boys in our summer neighborhood fall all over themselves whenever she walked by. What the heck did she have that I didn’t? Well, frankly quite a bit, but what it really boiled down to was her— LIPSTICK. Yes, it was the lightest of pink, almost pearlescent. And rumor had it, that it was peppermint! , I never heard one comment about her knockout bikini figure, her large, hypnotic eyes, or her gorgeous dark curly hair. NO. It was all about that lipstick. Not that any of the boys had actually kissed her but that little tube of tint had the capacity to make every boy at least dream of what it would be like to steal a kiss from the alluring girl with peppermint- coated lips.

That was my first observation about the power of makeup to create a perception of beauty— dating back the time of Cleopatra, who was adored for her intriguing painted eyes, long blackened eyelashes, and rose colored lips and cheeks (made possible by red ochre, a type of iron-enriched clay).

The majority of research studies support the fact that women who use makeup are perceived to be more attractive than those who don’t. In one study, women were professionally made up with customized products and application thought to best enhance the specific individual’s features. Then the “judges”, male and female, would look at the same woman’s face in 5 conditions: a) no makeup; b) foundation only; c) eye make-up only, d) lipstick only; and e) full facial make-up (with all of the above). Female judges thought the eye makeup alone condition was most attractive, while the male judges rated eye makeup and foundation to be the most attractive. None of the judges chose the “no makeup” condition as being most attractive.

Personally, I enjoy the “artistry” involved in using makeup, although the older I get the less I use. I have no desire to morph into a “whatever happened to Baby Jane” version of myself; but I do think a little color here and there enhances my current-aged self. Self-adornment can be a reflection of self-respect, although many women bypass make up altogether—and there is no problem whatsoever with their self-esteem. Some older women, however, feel they MUST use makeup or cosmetic procedures to hide their age, because of the consequences of living in a youth-worshiping culture, where they may face age discrimination on the job, or become “invisible” when trying to relate to others.

In fact when women 50-70 years old were interviewed about their reasons for engaging in “beauty work”, to enhance their appearance (e.g., hair dye, makeup, cosmetic surgery, and non-surgical procedures); their explanations included the following:

  • To fight against the invisibility of aging
  • It was part of a lifelong investment in one’s appearance
  • Desire to attract a romantic partner.
  • Because of employment-related ageism.

If you are among those who use makeup to hide your age, because you are either ashamed of the physical changes of growing older, or fear the societal consequences of being perceived as “old”, let me reassure you, you are not alone. But you alone do have the power to turn others’ perceptions around.  You can start by improving your own body image, and acknowledging your ageless beauty. Have fun with makeup if that is your thing. Wear clothes that make you feel great. Stand up tall and proud. Respect yourself and believe in your unique contribution to this world. And only after all of the above– if you feel like buying a tube of peppermint pink lipstick–You go for it 🙂

Do you enjoy or avoid using makeup? I’d love to read your thoughts, so do leave a comment below! 

References:

Clarke L.H., & Griffin M. (2008). Visible and invisible ageing: beauty work as a response to ageism. Ageing & Society (28). 653-674.

Indianpublicmedia.org “Did Cleopatra Wear Makeup?”

Mulhurn et. al. (2003) Do cosmetics enhance female Caucasian facial attractiveness? International Journal of Cosmetic Science (25) 199-205

 

© Raeleen Mautner, LLC

4 thoughts on “Do You Use Make-Up to Enhance Or Hide?

  1. I always use make-up.. preferably big name brands.. for daytime it is usually blush and lipstick…………for out, full .eyes, foundation, blush ,lipstick. In my era of teaching it was full make-up adjusted for daytime vs. night time..One year I had a long break including half our lunch time and would do a few laps in Olympic size school pool but not time to redo full makeup.. Kids, especially the 5th grade boys would comment.. “You look better with make-up” Age group tends to be VERY honest.This is a more casual dress area so when visiting schools it is usually blush and lipstick…….When I was in my early 30’s visiting the now defunct EVE of Rome Salon in Rome, I wasn’t wearing much make up.. The beautician there reminded me..” You forgot you were Italian”.i.e. Italian women in Italy (at least the cities) very beauty conscious. IN the Courts of Naples during the Renaissance, the most beautiful(with make-up) and intelligent Ladies of the Court were the Children’s Teachers. No Plain Janes for the kids. I always visited the Eve Salon when in Rome and always used only Eve products. They told me they were closing as Este Lauder could afford the Advertising and Free Gifts and competition too severe. At present Borghese and Chanel my favorites. When doing graduate studies, it was a Film studies course at Fairfield U., I wrote a project notebook called, “Men, Makeup, the Movies and Me. ” Dealt a little with men’s beauty, also. Today’s ads feature lots of Male grooming items. However, while at Yale, the psych professor announced to the class, YALE WOMEN DO NOT USE MAKE-UP.. Since i wanted to pass the course I did not argue..but what ignorance!!!!!!!!!!!!BEAUTY is important.. Do not need to be an Elizabeth Taylor but enhancing one’s own image is wonderful. Improves the environment!!!

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