Rambling on About Appearances

Entire industries exist to help people hide who they really are.  No, not to hide their identities (though those exist, too), but to hide how they look.  Cosmetics have one primary function: to cover up the person who resides beneath the oils, powders, mascaras, eyeliners, and lipstick. And there are hair colorings to disguise the natural appearance of the hair on one’s head (or, in the case of beards, one’s face).  It’s not just the skin and hair, either.  It’s the body.  Clothes cover our bodies; that’s partly for comfort, but also to hide the lines and wrinkles and folds and visible veins and cellulite and…on and on.

I recognize that the argument can be, and often is, made that what I call “hiding” is, rather, “accentuating.”  That is, cosmetics and clothing and  hair coloring and the like are meant to improve appearance, rather than to hide it.  I get that, and I agree to some extent.  But I think my appreciation for the way makeup and hair coloring and clothing make a person look has been trained and socialized into me.  Advertising works.

Lest there be any question as to whether makeup is designed to “cover up” or “hide” the way a person looks, I suggest a look a the makeup section of the Sephora website is in order. There, you’ll find terms like “concealer” and “camouflage.”

I am not one to argue that people should not use makeup or hair coloring or, heaven forbid, wear clothes!  No, in fact I think such things can be used to accentuate a person’s most attractive features.  And I think jewelry and tattoos and eyeliner and lipstick can be appealing to the eye of the beholder. But reliance on such things to define who we are, visually, is a bit of a tragedy. People should not be misled, by advertising or social pressure, into thinking they cannot be attractive on their own, without any help.

My thinking on this subject is admittedly a bit wishy-washy. I sometimes view people who use makeup and wear nice clothes and accessorize with jewelry very attractive. On the other hand, I don’t want people to feel they have to rely on such things to be attractive.

Any looking at me would know I don’t rely on anything to make me more attractive. Hmmm…maybe I should.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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