How make-up changes us
Make-up: it may make its mark, but it’s not the be all and end all as beauty companies might have us believe. Photo: Coffee&Milk
Make-up makes its mark. It affects how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves.
But, is it as important as cosmetics companies might have us believe?
A new infographic offers insight into the impact of make-up over time.
The graphic (which you can see in full below), created for cosmetics retailer Space NK, shows the first recorded use of make-up was 1400BC.
The chart also shows that eye make-up – ahead of foundation and lipstick – is seen as making the most beneficial difference to appearance, women who wear make-up tend to earn more and we spend an average of $230,000 on cometic products over our lifetime.
It shows that, at least in one experiment, women wearing make-up were hit on in bars 33 per cent more often, and that make-up, by heightening contrast, can make us appear more feminine and youthful.
Make-up not only changes others’ perception of us, according to the research, it also changes our perception of ourselves.
When women wear make-up they tend to see themselves in a more objective light and are likely to feel more self-confident and sociable.
War paint is our friend, it seems.
The information in the chart makes a compelling argument for buying make-up, which presumably is the point. However, it inadvertently accentuates concerning aspects of our culture.
In a survey of British teenagers, appearance was rated above support of family and having a rewarding job when it came to factors affecting self-esteem.
Similarly worrying was a survey of US women in which 50 per cent of respondents had negative feelings about their physical appearance without make-up.
Although clearly not its aim, the new graphic highlights a fundamental flaw in how many women view themselves. Make-up is great fun and there is nothing wrong with enhancing our best bits, but using it as the basis for self-worth is problematic.
Perhaps we need to address the shaky foundations of our self-worth instead of simply covering up the problem, so to speak.
It’s always worth remembering that, despite cosmetic and beauty campaigns suggesting otherwise, appearance is not the most important thing if we’re talking about living a good life. Feeling good about ourselves is.
Studies show that confidence and the ability to smile with sincerity have greater impact than appearance when it comes to success in work, in love, and our sense of well-being.
One study of a group of women over 30 years found that those who displayed genuinely happy smiles reported happier marriages and greater well-being.
The smiling women were also judged to be more competent and positive by strangers than those who didn’t.
Basing our self-esteem on feeling good in our skin and on the ability to beam from within – now that’s a good base for a foundation.