By Augustina John
In previous generations, women deployed different methods in enhancing their beauty, ranging from jewelry to material adornments. Women in ancient Egypt wore makeup made of lead ore and copper. In other ancient civilizations, berries were used to darken lips, and the ashes of burnt matchsticks were used to darken eyes.
It was around the Victorian era that the ladies of Europe began to fully embrace makeup and cosmetics. Ladies of leisure would often apply rice powder to hide blotches, redness, and freckles. Zinc oxide was combined with pearl powder to create a cosmetic variant that was fashionable at the time.
In earlier centuries, a type of pomade much like beeswax was applied to the lips every morning to not only protect against the elements, but to also add shine. Eye shadow was also a popular choice during the Victorian era, though respectable women were very subtle with the amount of eye shadow they used at any given time.
Today, we have developed beauty products for practically every purpose remotely conceivable. From making eyes pop with eye shadow palettes to hiding undesirable pores, makeup has come a long way. However, it could be argued that today’s women have taken their quest to look attractive to a whole new level; the lines between makeup and cosmetic surgery are blurred these days.
Women are indoctrinated from a young age that to be accepted by the wider society, they need to be pretty. The basis for that isn’t entirely cultural but also boils down to societal conditioning. According to the Association for Psychological Science, attractive people are treated more favourably in every area of life, whether it’s the dating scene or the workplace, or even a criminal trial. With respect to the workplace, research shows that women who wear makeup have higher earnings and promotion potential. Skin tone discoloration, eye bags signifying tiredness, and blemishes can make you sickly, and ultimately, “not as attractive”.
For many women, makeup is a confidence booster. Some cannot afford to leave the house without putting on any makeup. In fact, there are many women who don’t want anyone to even see them until they have put on some makeup. The truth is, the amount of makeup required to boost confidence varies from woman to woman.
In 2009, Essence magazine’s Smart Beauty panel explored the shopping experiences of African American women within the prestige beauty market. The study showed that African American women spent $7.5 billion on beauty products each year. This is how far women are determined to go to achieve the look they desire.
Today, beauty enhancement has assumed new dimensions. There are women who have gone beyond the application of temporary makeup, and stepped things up a notch to the application of permanent makeup on their faces through cosmetic surgery.
One of the drawbacks of restorative medical procedures is that there’s no guarantee that women will come out of the opposite end totally happy with the changes. The idea of the desired modifications made to their faces or bodies may have been attractive before they decided to have them, but the execution and outlook may not turn out as expected. Also, botches during medical procedures occur every now and then. For instance, a facelift can cause changeless nerve harm which prompts a loss of motion in the face.
Plastic and cosmetic surgeries are fraught with many medical complications, some of which include infection, severe bleeding, nerve damage that may lead to numbness, necrosis (tissue death), seroma (bodily fluids building up in areas where tissues have been removed by surgery) and hematoma (bruising in the area). Blood clots and deep vein thrombosis are other complications that arise from plastic surgery.
The question is, why is fake bronzed skin preferred over naturally bronzed skin? Why is lip augmentation more fashionable than sticking with naturally full lips? Breasts and buttocks have to be “enhanced”. Big hair achieved with a blow dryer, curling iron, teasing comb and hair spray is “beautiful and voluminous”, but a full mane of curls is seen as “less desirable and dated”.
For makeup, an amplified shine to the face is preferred to a natural sheen due to sebum production. Even red hair is glorified more in the media when it comes from a salon or box rather than a woman’s own hair follicles. Maybe, just maybe, artificial products get more love because there is an actual price tag attached to them.
Many women do not appreciate their natural beauty, and that is because society impresses unrealistic standards on them. Why do they need to change what they were born with? Is there something they need to hide? No, girls do not need to hide anything, whether it’s their freckles, moles, dimples, or birthmarks. Those are features that depict our uniqueness as individuals.
Every woman should come to the point where they realize that they are beautiful, unique, and amazing just the way they are. No amount of makeup can mask deep-lying insecurities. No medical procedure can really change how you feel about yourself. Confidence flows from the inside and radiates externally, not the other way around.
To every woman reading this, put on that dress, wear that smile, flaunt those beautiful curls, and step out to slay. You will not have society prescribe how you should feel about your body. You have no business letting TV commercials determine if you are beautiful or not.