Beauty at what price?

It is my experience that fear fuels the beauty industry. We scrub, moisten, brighten, color, lift, and tuck not because we are excited to let our beauty shine for the world to see. Most women, and many men, do these things for fear of what might happen if they didn’t.


“What if,” I’m often asked by potential purchasers of natural cosmetics, “what if it doesn’t work?” Well, I often want to reply, what if? Would your co-workers pretend not to know you and your pitifully pale cheeks, would your boyfriend leave you for someone with perfectly intact lipstick, would children run away screaming from your lackluster lashes? The fear in my customers’ eyes when they ask this question would suggest that, indeed, something pretty horrible might occur should their eyeliner fail to deliver the critical beautifying function they believe is required for daily functioning.
And what, aside from fear, could motivate women to literally risk their lives in pursuit of aesthetic perfection? Next door to my shop, a tanning salon thrives, even though another busy tanning salon is located a quarter of a block away. Despite an announcement this past summer by international cancer experts that tanning beds are as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas, business remains steady.

Today I read about the death of a former Miss Argentina, mother of 7-year-old twins, during a butt lift. The chemicals that were supposed to firm up her backside leaked into her bloodstream, killing her on the table. In late October, a British woman suffered severe burns following an allergic reaction to Boots hair dye. And while her reaction was extreme, I have dozens of customers who stopped using chemical hair color after experiencing life-threatening allergic reactions. And yet, despite undisputed evidence that hair dye is toxic, it is almost always the last beauty product my customers are willing to give up.


What would life be like for women if we no longer feared facing the world as we are? How different would we feel if we chose a specific mascara because we loved how it looked and not because it lengthened our “too short” lashes, or a lipstick because we like the shade, and not because we felt the need to conceal “overly pale” lips? Every woman to whom I give a makeover recites a well-rehearsed list of all flaws she believes stand between her and true beauty. And I know I do the same.
Tomorrow, as you apply your makeup, try reflecting on how great your jawline is, or how amazingly blue your eyes are. Choose a lipstick you believe bring out the fullness of your lips, or an eye shadow that draws attention to your bright and sparkly eyes. It might change your whole day.

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