On my bookshelf alone, I have five bottles of nail polish, two different kinds of moisturizer, a facial treatment kit, and a $90 makeup palette. Even though my shelves, dresser drawers, and medicine cabinet are crammed, my cosmetics collection is still considered modest by most women. The funny thing is, I barely use these products on a weekly (or even monthly) basis, yet I cannot imagine a living in a world without them, and I’m not alone.
I am fed up with my dependence on bottles and tubs of chemicals to achieve an industry-set beauty standard. That is why I am challenging you, ladies and gentlemen, to reexamine why you embrace the beauty rituals you hold so high.
Western beauty standards are hard to emulate; yet, both women and men do whatever possible to keep up with the latest trend. Want to look flawless in the summer heat? Remove your sweat glands. Is work stressing you out? Get a bird poop facial. Starting to get wrinkles? Use snake venom cream. Not only are these exorbitant treatments strange, they’re insanely expensive. Regardless of how unattainable it is, our culture welcomes the pursuit of the “perfect” image with open arms.
I’m not saying that we should abandon all efforts to make ourselves look presentable. In no way am I encouraging something drastic like abandoning your bottle of shampoo. There is nothing wrong with maintaining appearances.
However, I am pushing for a reflection on our relationship with the beauty industry. Why should women feel obligated to wear makeup to the grocery store? And why should men care so much about their hair? There is a lack of diversity in age and ethnic background in the beauty industry. People of color are not represented equally in American media, and neither are age groups. So if you don’t meet the industry’s standards for “beauty,” does that mean you should walk around with a paper bag over your head? Of course not.
Going back to my ridiculous collection of cosmetics, I realize how much of a problem my makeup is. Wearing makeup starts being a problem when you can’t live without it. A British study revealed that 70% of women surveyed never left the house without applying makeup. A quarter of the total surveyed thought that if their friends and family saw them without makeup, they would be surprised at how unappealing they look. It’s no wonder why the average woman will spend $13,000 on makeup in her lifetime.
About a month ago, I took it upon myself to cut back on cosmetics because not only did I get tired of how long it took to apply and remove, I didn’t see the point anymore. I started eating better, avoiding the sun, and drinking more water. What resulted was that I stopped using makeup altogether. Stepping out of the house used to require a layer of foundation at the very least. I’ll admit it. I used to be a slave to the cosmetics world, but hopefully those days are in the past.