Style Fashion

Wednesday 24 September 2014

The beauty industry is basically a forgery... and women have only themselves to blame

Lorraine Courtney

Published 27/04/2014 | 02:30

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Glossy magazines are often blamed for putting pressure on women
Lorraine Courtney

It seems that the 21st-Century woman can juggle running a country with running a family, just as long as she does it all while looking like a Kate Moss clone. Our appearance, it appears, is the only area of our lives left untouched by feminism.

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The feminists blame the glossy magazine industry, which is easy but also a bit unfair. In reality we can't blame anyone but ourselves, and remember we are all still queuing up to buy those very magazines.

Yes, glossy magazines showcase what are basically female forgeries. Each model is smothered in make-up, contoured to make clavicles protrude, hips curve and eyes a barely human shade of cerulean. The beauty pages propel us into a lifelong battle of toning, tanning, plucking, preening, shrink-wrapping and waxing using a whole assortment of products that the beauty editor most likely got for free.

These magazines are a merciless magnifying glass and they definitely play a part in our self-esteem issues, but they don't tell the whole ugly story.

The entire beauty industry is created on the lie that ageing is something that can be delayed and that perfection is attainable with the right concealer. Almost all of the big-name brands have had some of their advertisements banned for misleading customers.

One even popped a pair of ginormous fake lashes on Penelope Cruz to peddle one of its mascaras. Obviously no one has lashes like that, really mascara just clogs lashes up in an inky mess but I still went out and bought one.

The ad was banned but as far as we can tell these decisions by the Advertising Standards Authority have no real effect on sales of beauty products.

The recent no makeup selfie phenomenon saw women post slightly less than usually groomed photos of themselves online while their girlfriends lied about how much prettier they looked with thread veins and eye bags. This narcissism mixed with charity lark perfectly encapsulated how ensnared we have become in the beauty industry.

Of course, some of us choose to go slapless every day but when we have headlines screaming about some celeb daring to leave their house without makeup, six-year-olds wearing lip-gloss and teens getting Brazilians, fewer and fewer of us have the guts to do so.

Cosmetics companies have spent the better part of the past century convincing women that their products will make them presentable enough for another human to love them someday and we would all like to imagine that we're forking out all this cash on various tortures of extreme grooming in order to nab a man.

But men, as ever, don't really have much to do with it. It isn't the patriarchy that is forcing us to bleach our moustaches, it's other women – the so-called sisterhood.

This tendency of women to police each other's 'womanness' (what they are wearing, how extensive their grooming regime is, how often they get their highlights done) is overwhelming.

You see, women are infinitely more critical of other women's bodies than most men, who really aren't that bothered about a jiggly thigh or a peachy bum. And nothing makes a woman happier than seeing another woman who is wrinklier or saggier than she is.

Have we become so vigilant about how we look in general and our ageing appearance specifically that we have lost sight of the fact that we are all in this together? By comparing and then devaluing others in order to boost our own shaky sense of self, we truly are our own worst frenemies.

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