Artifice

At one level this is a blog about why I like people, especially women, to be themselves – fresh, natural and without unnecessary adornment of any sort.  I’m expecting a major backlash with much disagreement!

Let’s begin at the beginning.  I’ve always taken a view that the most attractive women are those who make the most of their natural assets and beauty without artificial additions.  I was always turned off by make-up caked on an inch thick, and neither did fake tans, false eyelashes, false nails, false boobs or false anything ever do it for me.  In my humble assessment, beauty comes from within and is not aided by artificial aids.  The more artificial, the less attractive.

The vast majority of men don’t wear make-up or even colour their hair – and if they did, it would be viewed by most as vanity.  Why then should women have to “put on a face to meet the faces that you meet,” to quote TS Eliot?  I accept that some feel more confident wearing war paint, but I’d argue that done more than sparingly it makes most women look worse, not better.

It might be a physical mask, but what does it really say about you?  Ah, the psychologists would tell you red lipstick mimics the vulva and therefore leads to male eyes following you around the room, though speaking as a guy I would have to be pretty dumb to fall for somebody because their lips stood out like female genitalia.

Looking at false eyelashes, the objective might be to make the eyes look bigger and more appealing, but the real effect is to reveal ugly, black mascara’ed eyelashes, like hairy caterpillars crawling across the face and settling for a snooze around the eyes.  If you want a startled look that would certainly work, but it’s a poor substitute for the real thing.  If you have a good bone structure, beautiful eyes, well-formed lips, a pert nose, lovely hair, then less is decidedly more.  Why emphasise artificially what exists already, but if you are going to do so, do it with subtlety.

One instance I distinctly remember was going to Altrincham ice rink as a teenager and seeing a girl who was possibly a couple of years older than me.  What attracted my attention was the fact that she was luminescent orange by the light reflected from the ice. These days you would immediately think of fake tan, but close to it became more obvious that this was foundation applied with a trowel, plus a thick wodge of eye shadow and a pink lipstick that clashed violently with the orange foundation.  By what measure she considered that to enhance her appearance is not clear, but if the aim was to appeal to the opposite sex it failed at every level!

If a man is attracted by heavy make-up, will he then be disenchanted when he sees you without, first thing in the morning?  Equally, if you’re wearing chicken fillets to pad out your bra, maybe your date will be disappointed to discover how your natural attributes appear, uncovered?  Actually, small breasts can be every bit as enticing as big ones, but the act of falsifying your figure is for me an instant turn-off.  Make the most of your natural figure without artificial augmentation instead and see what happens; if nothing else, the men you do attract may be far more genuine and inclined to stick with you!

Of course, there are other variants of artifice, but at least make-up can be washed off and toned down.  I’m not a lover of cosmetic surgery though I’d accept some people want and need it for genuine medical reasons – reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy, for example.  But when you see “the bride of Wildenstein” or women with absurdly huge and rigid enhanced breasts, you wonder what possible motivation there could be – other than appearing in porn movies and getting headlines in the gutter press?

I could say the same about tattoos and piercings, which might be acceptable with considerable discretion but when people flaunt huge holes in their ear lobes and vast swathes of flesh covered with (generally) tasteless daubs in permanent coloured inks I can only think there will come a day when they will regret their haste, not to mention the money spent in amending their bodies, not to mention the many professional career paths closed to them.  Trying to look unique might be one thing, but it doesn’t pay off – and in any case it only makes them look more like many more people with the same studs and chains and tats.  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

It takes all sorts, so for everyone who agrees with me there will doubtless be many more men – and women – who approve of everything I’ve trashed above.  Takes all sorts, as the saying goes.  Forgive me if this suggests some people prefer superficiality to substance, but for me anybody looks better if they are clean, well-groomed and natural, than redesigned in ways nature did not intend.  You can look individual without changing or enhancing anything.  Focus on your mind and personality and you will stand out from the crowd in far better ways, and be remembered for who you are, not what you are.

Just one final thought:  if there is a subtext to this blog, I guess there is a wider comment on artifice within society as a whole, how appearances are now more important than ever before, to the detriment of reality and integrity.  For example, do you remember the time before PR consultants and communications directors, whose role is to create an artifice and spin it like there’s no tomorrow?  It seems like a distant memory, though it’s further evidence why you should trust your own judgement rather than believe what public figures, celebs and media tell you.

And while we’re on the subject, I’m well known for detesting the artifice of brand marketing, so the and substance of reality sounds way more attractive than a non-existent fantasy world!  Time to focus on this world and see things as they truly are, warts and all, without any makeovers!

2 thoughts on “Artifice”

  1. I am inclined to agree with your sentiments Andy; however I take issue with your statement … “If you have a good bone structure, beautiful eyes, well-formed lips, a pert nose, lovely hair, then less is definitely more” … That’s the whole point – those attributes are seen as the “ideal” by many people but a lot of women feel they don’t possess them! And that’s where the cover-up /enhancing starts.

    1. Actually, my point was the reverse. I think every woman is beautiful, whether or not they live up to the concept of beauty promoted by society. The cover up and enhancing generally creates a different but not a better look, and introduces artifice. The fact that many women feel they have to cover up in that way says more about the pressures of society than it does about them.

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