Body armour

Posted by on April 11, 2016 in Blog, Living today | 3 comments

Newtown grafitti/red lips/Flickr

Newtown grafitti/red lips/Flickr

Who needs make-up? No, that’s not a trick question…but maybe a better one would be: why do I need make up? It’s a topic that’s been buzzing round my head ever since watching a Connie Fisher programme on the subject.

She’s not alone in that she won’t leave the house without make-up, but I do have problems understanding the reasons why. It just seems like such a massive waste of time! The programme states that the average woman spends two years of her life putting on an estimated £12,000 worth of cosmetics – but who has £12k and two free years? Just think what we could do with either if they were going spare.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy a make-over. I even occasionally stump up the cash for cosmetic products afterwards. But wear them on a day-to-basis? Where’s the fun in that? Which is actually Connie’s starting point. Her argument, and that of many of the women she interviews, is that without make-up she feels naked. Putting it on is akin to putting on a suit of armour. She feels more confident, better able to take on the world.

So point one: make-up is something that women do for themselves. Which is just as well, as Connie then goes on to undertake a research study interviewing male university students, showing them three photos. One shows a woman wearing no make up, in the next she’s wearing a little, and in the last, well, you’re way ahead of me. Which one did the guys prefer? Strangely, the middle option.

I can identify with this. The friends whose make-up I truly admire are those who appear not to be wearing any…but who have gone to a great deal of trouble to achieve that look. That’s never going to be me: no matter what waterproof mascara I put on, I look like a panda within an hour. If I plan long enough in advance, I might dye my eyelashes, but failing that it’s going to be foundation, blusher, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil and possibly eyeliner. Contouring? Pshaw!

Which takes me to another subject, eyebrows. Here I just can’t keep up. First it was de rigueur to be tweezered or threaded within an inch of your life, and the eyebrows drawn on. Then bushy eyebrows a la Delevingne became all the rage. A few months ago daughter returned home having had her eyebrows tattooed, saying she’d never need them tweezered again (they do look quite good, by the way). Now, apparently, “bold brows are here to stay”. Well, so says Emily Orofino’s Popsugar post on brows. I’ve been dragged into the 21st century by said daughter, who has insisted that I buy a gel eyebrow stick – I held out against a tube of gel which ensures that eyebrow hair all goes in the same direction.

Why don’t we move on to lips? For most of my life, any lipstick I’ve bought has been to tone down my lip colour. Now, Connie’s programme tells us, we should be snapping up the reddest lipstick around. Why? According to one specialist she unearthed, this is because men love red lips: apparently they signify that a woman is very fertile. Who knew? Well, not all men, as if you undertake a little research of your own you’ll come across a Huffington Post article  quoting a 2012 study. It found that waitresses who wore lipstick got higher tips from men, and while another study from 2010 discovered red-lipstick-bedaubed women received the ‘most prolonged gazes’ from men, the Post‘s own – albeit limited – investigation revealed that men frequently hate red lips.

You pays your money and you take your choice. The strangest thing about cosmetics is that, like fashion, trends come and go. Take tans. I can’t work out whether they’re currently in vogue or not, but if being pale is your preferred option then hark back to the Middle Ages. Women in this era went to such extremes that they allowed themselves to be painted or even bled in order to achieve the colourless look. And tattoos also became popular during this time period, as did coloured eyeshadow, featuring blues, greens, grays, and browns. I just wonder if they tattooed eyebrows?




  1. Saw a glimpse of this first programme – have never seen anything like it!: the false eyelashes covered in thick lumpy mascara. Surely this frightens off the guys!! I have to admit using mascara on lashes and brows, because without that, I could be mistaken for Boris Becker, what with lashes and brows whitish blond like my Danish hair! Lipstick for me lasts approximately 3 minutes, I must subconsciously lick it off as something poisonous. A bit of a tan is quite nice, but that has shown to create pre-cancerous growths on me, so have to give that up as well! Oh well, maybe I’ll try high heels instead!

  2. Me too – I wouldn’t leave home without it, as my natural look, as Dame B can attest, is ‘fungoid piggy’. But what about weird Japanese trend (some centuries ago) for women to blacken their teeth?

  3. My cri de coeur is very simple – why is waterproof mascara not actually waterproof? I get sick of looking like a panda..

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