Free Essay

Make Up

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jeskadawn
Words 1897
Pages 8
Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth is about a farmer, Wang Lung, who experiences times of poverty and prosperity throughout his life; however, to summarize the book in one sentence is to do a great disservice to it. One of the novel’s recurring themes is that of beauty. The book takes place in China in the late 19th or early 20th century. Time has changed our world in many ways since then. Has time changed the meaning of beauty? Is there a difference in how the Chinese and Americans see beauty? Do we perceive beauty in different ways than the people in the time of The Good Earth? I conclude that the ideals of beauty have changed since the book was written and that modern American society has taken on new views of what it means to be beautiful. Men and women today can use cosmetics as part of a regular beauty routine to achieve certain beauty standards and to increase confidence. Throughout the last century in America, the very meaning of beauty has changed very often: from the Gibson Girl in the early 1900s to the flappers in the 1920s, from the full-figured pin-up girls of the 1940s and the 1950s to the “heroin chic” waifs of the 1990s, what the western world considered beautiful changed with each decade. When one considers beauty, it is now most likely physical appearance that comes to mind. Hilhorst notes, “The view that physical beauty can be conceived of as a value in its own right is, however, a modern thought.” Hilhorst explains in “Physical Beauty: Only Skin Deep?” that the modern idea of beauty is a product of the 1960s. Before then, personality traits such as trustworthiness and reliability could make a person beautiful. Inner beauty was just as, or possibly more important than physical appearance. (Hilhorst) As time has passed, our perception of beauty has changed with it. “In the post-war period of the 1950s, a busty, voluptuous hourglass look was prized.” (Rehabs) Then shortly after the 1960s, the idea of beauty changed again. New decades have brought about beauty standards that are increasingly unobtainable. Models in magazines and famous people in television and movies are liked more for their appearance than for their personality traits. While The Good Earth placed some importance on physical beauty, more emphasis was placed on inner beauty. Wang Lung mentions in the first chapter that he wished he could marry a beautiful woman. His father tells him that he should have a wife who could bear children and work around the house; traits that were not consistent with women who possessed physical beauty. “It is a fact of life that some people are physically beautiful while others are not.” (Hilhorst) Is there anything a person can do to enhance their physical beauty? Yes; in fact something as simple as cosmetics can boost someone’s physical attractiveness. Makeup and cosmetics are products that can alter and enhance a person’s physical appearance. Hundreds of products exist that could be considered makeup and most are applied to the face. Even though cosmetics are not exclusively for women, men tend to wear makeup less often. In a survey about makeup distributed to a range of people in online communities, 266 people responded. Out of those responses, four of the 33 males reported using makeup while only 30 females out of the 242 females reported no use of makeup. Anyone can use makeup to change certain features about their face they might not be pleased with; makeup can be used for numerous reasons. In the same survey, all applicants were given multiple choices for why they choose to wear makeup: To feel beautiful, as a hobby/fun, to cover acne or scars, to increase confidence, to look professional at work, or other. Each person had the ability to choose more than one answer. Of the 16 that chose “other” as an option, several wrote in personal reasons such as: cosplay purposes, stage performances, and to express themselves. A significant number of people responded that they use makeup to cover acne or scars, something that people were unable to do many years ago. A person does not have to cover acne or scars to feel beautiful, but some people wish to. In The Good Earth, “pock marks” – small indentations in the skin left from severe acne or sores – were mentioned several times in describing ugliness. If makeup had been something people used in those days, they may have used foundation or concealer to mask the marks. For some people, makeup is part of their daily or weekly routine, but for Ashley Weiskircher, it is her life and career. Ashley is a well-loved makeup and beauty blogger from the blog Sultry Suburbia. Her love for makeup started in her youth, but today it is her full-time occupation, hobby, and passion. Beyond her website, Ashley has a presence on YouTube with her makeup and beauty videos and on related subreddits on the website Reddit. When she is not actively doing something that involves makeup, she is thinking about possible looks she can create, different color combinations, or even replying to questions and emails from her fans and followers. For Ashley, makeup is not just a beauty tool, it is art. She is not alone; in the last decade, beauty blogging and videos on YouTube has brought awareness to millions of people that makeup is more than just about beauty. Increasing self-confidence was another major reason people reported for using makeup. While it is incredible that makeup can increase someone’s confidence, the question is why. Does our society place such high standards on beauty that some feel that makeup is required? The answer is yes. While not all people feel pressured to wear makeup, many do.

Out of the 266 that responded to the survey, one male and 91 females reported feeling pressure to wear makeup because of the emphasis society places on physical beauty. That is 39% of the people that responded, 4 out of 10 people. While not the majority, it is a large amount of people that feel inadequately beautiful in today’s society. People like Ashley Weiskircher are helping young men and women all over discover that beauty is more than skin deep. Unlike the perfect, photo shopped, and airbrushed women in magazines, many bloggers and YouTubers show their bare face to remind everyone that no one looks that perfect without makeup. Although her videos show how to apply makeup, Ashley not only shows her bare face, she lets everyone know she is not ashamed of it and that no one else should be ashamed of theirs. This type of exposure brings a lot of positivity to the culture and world of makeup. On the other hand, makeup does not always bring about positivity. Recently another beauty blogger and YouTuber, Em Ford, started a movement and experiment aimed to empower men and women to overcome their insecurities. While the message was ultimately positive, Em experienced a lot of negativity along the way. She started the experiment by posting pictures of her bare face on social media accounts and recorded the messages she received. Em, who suffers from mild to severe acne, received numerous messages from people saying how ugly and gross she looked, and that she should wear makeup. She expected that she would receive negative feedback, but even then, it is hard to overcome the blows to self-confidence that this would bring. Sometime after the initial experiment, she posted new pictures of her face with makeup on to cover the acne and make herself look beautiful. As she expected, she received positive feedback from many people telling her that she was suddenly beautiful. Makeup had done its magic and converted someone “ugly” to “beautiful”, but what Em did not expect was to receive an overwhelming amount of negative feedback on her makeup pictures. Without makeup she was labeled as “ugly and gross”, with makeup she received comments such as “This is false advertising”, “Imagine waking up next to her in the morning”, and “You are so ugly, that is why you wear makeup.” (Ford) One cannot win with negativity like this.
Another negative aspect of makeup and cosmetics is that they include many chemicals, some of which could potentially have negative effects on the body or could even cause cancer. A survey done by EWG (Environmental Working Group) showed that many people use up to 15 beauty products a day or sometimes more. How many of those people know what they are actually putting onto their bodies? The cosmetic industry is left to self-police their own products because the FDA does not handle approving or denying cosmetic products. (EWG) In their article “Why This Matters”, EWG explains that “cosmetic ingredients do not remain on the surface of the skin.” Products that we apply to our skin is absorbed into our bodies. Their website is a database for anyone looking to educate themselves about the ingredients in cosmetic products. Safe makeup practices, such as sterilization, are also very important. Unfortunately for Jo Gilchrist, this realization came too late. Jo recently became paralyzed from contracting the MRSA bacteria from a makeup brush she borrowed from her friend. The friend and makeup brush owner had a staph infection shortly before Jo began to show her symptoms. Mrs. Gilchrist went to the ER to discover that she had a spinal infection of MRSA and is now paralyzed. (Bushak) Makeup is a wonderful thing and helps many people, but does carry some risk to self-confidence and even to health. In conclusion, beauty did not hold too much importance on the lives of the farmers and town people in the days of The Good Earth in China. While Wang Lung did want a beautiful wife, he found inner beauty in his first wife O-Lan. Eventually when Wang Lung became a more wealthy man he took on a second wife, Lotus, who was described as beautiful. Physical appearance or beauty has a much stronger presence in our society today, and evidence of this exists in how much makeup is part of many peoples’ lives. Makeup is a simple tool one can use to feel more beautiful or increase self-confidence, but does have some negative presence in our society. Time has changed the way people are perceived as beautiful and we do not know how long makeup will exist as a typical beauty standard. A hundred years ago makeup was not part of nearly anyone’s routine, but is very prevalent today. Only time will tell which direction beauty will take next.

Works Cited

Buck, Pearl S. The Good Earth. New York: Washington Square, 2004. Print.
Bushak, Lecia. "Woman Paralyzed After Borrowed Makeup Brush Transmits Staph Infection." Medical Daily. N.p., 10 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 July 2015 Ford, Em. "You Look Disgusting." Web log post. My Pale Skin. N.p., 2 July 2015. Web. 23 July
Hilhorst, Medard T. "Physical Beauty: Only Skin Deep?" Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy 5.1 (2002): 11-21. ProQuest. Web. 23 July 2015.
"Why This Matters – Cosmetics and Your Health." Skin Deep Why This Matters Cosmetics and Your Health Comments. EWG, n.d. Web. 23 July 2015.
"Women's Body Image and BMI: 100 Years in the US." N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2015.

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...Next Up: CC Creams The first mass CC cream to be introduced in the U.S., the biggest market in the world for color cosmetics (by retail sales), was Olay Total Effects CC Tone Correcting Line, which arrived on shelves toward the end of 2012. The brand claims to treat seven signs of aging, as well as providing color correction and UV protection. It hits all the right spots, but in multiple categories—and that might encourage brand cannibalization trends going forward. The CC development is clever, and like BB, the trend originally came from Asia. In effect, CC creams have taken a concept that has worked extremely well and given it a marketing overhaul just at the moment when demand was starting to look vulnerable. The world’s biggest soft drink manufacturers activate this re-branding strategy all the time in order to stay ahead of the game. And it works. Make no mistake about it. CC creams and their spin-offs will be a big hit in Western markets in 2013—and they could blur the boundaries between skin care and makeup even more than BB creams. And as yet, it is unclear whether that will have negative implications over the long-term. It might be that consumers simply get used to what, in effect, is a new and fast-growing beauty care category, made up of skin care/makeup hybrids. Air Cushion Makeup: The Next Big Beauty Trend? Posted: April 7, 2014 In a video post on Euromonitor International’s website, “Air Cushions Taking the Color Cosmetics Market in Korea by Storm,”......

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