Post No.: 0885
Fuelled by the media and beauty industry, it seems like the age for females, in particular, feeling worried about the signs of ageing is getting ever younger. It’s super to try to keep as healthy for as long as possible by exercising, eating well, getting enough rest and avoiding too much ultraviolet light – but so much about ‘fighting ageing’ is actually about fighting the superficial visual appearance of ageing, leading to products that can even strip the outer layer of skin and leave the skin more sensitive to UV light! People perhaps need to learn to age gracefully?
The only proven ‘anti-ageing’ components in skin creams are UV-protection (to protect from too much damaging UVA and UVB light if you’re in the sunshine a lot) and moisturiser (to make the skin look more plump and supple and to literally fill in any fine wrinkles). Skin creams with retinol, which increases the production of collagen, also help. The rest of what’s marketed, at present anyway, could be regarded as a waste of money or a placebo.
But an anti-wrinkle cream won’t prevent your impending lung cancer after years of smoking! So although you may be able to fool other people and yourself by making your skin appear less wrinkly – you cannot fool Death in this way.
Our skin, as an organ (indeed the largest organ of our body), does still need looking after though – and good-looking skin does tend to be healthy skin. Skincare is vital because it’s for health purposes. Woof.
For this, we need to sleep well, have a healthy diet, drink enough water, don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol, regularly exercise, and avoid too much UV light – plus regularly wash our skin and hair. However, as a society, some experts say we shower or bathe too much and thus lose vital protective natural skin oils every time we don’t need to wash but do.
Every single night, always wash at least your face, crotch, feet and any other skin areas that were exposed to dirt during the day. Your hands should be washed throughout the day as necessary. But the rest of your body depends on whether you have exercised, been sweaty, have dirt or smell. I’d say wash before going to bed rather than just after getting up – to not bring the day’s dirt into the bed and stew in it for several more hours before you finally wash! And you surely need to do a bit of scrubbing when cleaning yourself rather than think that the water rolling off your skin is sufficient!
After a poo, females, especially, should wipe their butts from front to back to minimise the risk of urinary tract infections. After a pee, males, and not just females, should always wipe away any excess urine. (Shaking your fuzzy bits isn’t enough. Shaking drops of pee everywhere is disgusting anyway!) And needless to say, wash your hands afterwards.
Looking good on the outside can boost our self-confidence too. So – beyond being clean, moisturised and UV-protected – applying cosmetic makeup to cover any spots, scars or blemishes can improve our mental well-being. Others will also more likely treat us better because many people in society are, sadly, skin-deep prejudiced and will subjectively judge us according to how we look.
Yet how strong and confident someone feels without any of this ‘body armour’ would be the truer measure of their strength and confidence. How broad are your comfort zones? Do you feel content with yourself whether you do or don’t hide behind a ‘mask’ that takes minutes or possibly even hours to put on every time (time that could alternatively be spent on friends, family, your education and on other things including actually living your life)? If even you don’t feel content with yourself, should others judge you similarly harshly according to your shallow aspects too? Is skin-deep all or most of all we are?
Makeup, no makeup, no-makeup makeup – how you look shouldn’t matter anywhere near as much as how you are as a person. Well I suppose how much time you spend on your surface will reveal something about your character – in the sense that you could be considered vain! On another paw, it could be because of one’s anxieties, or pragmatism because of the way others may indeed discriminate us according to how we look. We’ll know if the reason is vanity instead of pragmatism if we prejudice others according to how they look too. And note that appearing clean, or healthy, isn’t the same as being clean, or healthy. Constantly applying makeup can actually harm one’s skin underneath, and makeup products can become full of bacteria over time.
So I understand that insecurities and how others will judge us is a social problem. A mask of makeup gives many people the confidence to show themselves in public in a culture that presents all these professionally touched-up images of models and celebrities adorning the media.
Yet arguably everybody who wears makeup is just perpetuating this culture via social media themselves, which influences the next generation of young adolescents to feel insecure if they don’t appear ‘perfect’ too. (It’s like if some people own and carry firearms then it incentivises others to own and carry firearms too, which creates a self-feeding loop of fear and gun ownership. The fear of one’s neighbours is therefore what the gun lobby promotes because it’s good for their business. Likewise, the fear that one will be considered ugly without their products is what the beauty industry promotes.) We can become a part of a cultural problem we didn’t want or like.
Social media users may claim that it’s their own choice to use filters that change their bone structure, skin colour, size of eyes, etc. to look more ‘ideal’ (so not blatantly fake image filters that are just for fun but those that try to fool others into thinking that nothing has been manipulated). Yet isn’t this the same as claiming that it’s free speech to spread lies? These filters are essentially lies. Such lies have cultural consequences too – in this case it spreads unattainable visual ‘ideals’ that make young people feel more insecure.
The cosmetics industry is one of luxury for sure i.e. people don’t need makeup like they need food or warmth. There are environmental concerns like how some contain toxic chemicals that affect waterways and marine life. There are ethical concerns like exploited cheap labour and animal testing in some countries. And health concerns like hormone-altering chemicals, perpetuating beauty ideals and this effect on especially the mental health of young people.
I mean, wear makeup if you want to – don’t let a man, woman or anyone else tell you what to do. Although I hope you do it not out of insecurity but joy or creative art. Do it because you want to, not because you feel you need to. When, usually, men recommend that women shouldn’t wear makeup, it can be either because they mean well by making it clear that they look beautiful without it, or because they prefer women to look ‘pure’ (whatever that means). The former reason is fine but the latter is not up to those men. And the problem is most men don’t realise how much effort it can still take for women to look ‘natural’ or ‘pure’! Society still largely expects ‘natural’ to mean blemish-free, wrinkle-free and youthful.
So the point isn’t about wearing or not wearing makeup per se but how much you feel confident in your own skin. And we need to culturally care more about each other’s deeper, more meaningful and more persistent traits like integrity, intellect and the more reliable indicators of our health, which are more than just skin deep.
Natural selection cares about how well we perform in terms of survival. Sexual selection, however, frequently assumes that we can reliably judge how well a potential mate will perform according to how they look, which isn’t the same thing, especially in this modern world. But the innate instincts of humans today are still largely the same as those of cavepeople tens or hundreds of millennia ago.
Most people think that they can, with their intuitions, infer so much from such little information, but then they frequently get things wrong. If someone, say, has a healed scar on his/her face – is it dangerous, unhealthy, unhygienic, a deliberate insult to others, does it make the person less intelligent or suddenly a bad person?! How can it really then be unattractive (or particularly attractive) according to anything that matters? The story behind the scar might say something but not the visual scar itself. If it’s painful or means that the person’s face doesn’t function as well then perhaps they require our empathy rather than revulsion too. Whether it’s about something that someone was born with or not, we’ve got to ask these kinds of questions.
Large fake breast implants won’t offer an offspring extra breast milk. A slim exterior can be hiding a lot of visceral fat within. In sport, the gold medal never automatically goes to the competitor who looks the most able to win but is the most able. The wild is even more ruthless on pretenders. A fit-looking person might have hidden sexually transmissible infections! Brainpower (probably the greatest advantage in the whole animal kingdom) cannot be judged externally, and neither can valued personality traits like courage, loyalty or furry resilience. The culture of vanity is like a desire for a con. Do we want to attract gullible mates anyway(!)
Such inferences of a person’s health or character based on their appearance are thus unreliable. Yet such skin-deep inferences are rife in nature – from harmless frogs mimicking the colours of toxic ones, to predatory snakes mimicking lures with their tails to catch their prey. Life is full of gullible fools – although we’ve got to hand it to some of these plants and animals because they’ve evolved some truly convincing mimicry!
How can we really tell if someone is trustworthy according to how they look? That’s the same kind of prejudice as racism or discriminating people according to their skin colour. And that’s how we can be a thrall to charming con artists who ‘appear trustworthy’. Over-trusting in appearances can also happen in other contexts, like official-looking correspondence. Online phishing – a form of ‘social engineering’ where attackers impersonate banks, government departments or other organisations to obtain confidential information from targets – is such a widespread cyber security problem, for instance. Phishing relies on people trusting that official-looking messages from apparently authoritative individuals are genuine.
So people have got to get out of ‘caveperson’ or ‘simple animal’ mode and stop superficially judging themselves and others by how they look skin-deep. Judge everyone according to what they do and how they treat others instead. We should all ideally try to be body neutral (check out Post No.: 0633).
People who don’t spend so much time on their own appearances can spend a lot more time on others or on more important things that’ll make them truly better people. Makeup also washes off each day, whereas exercise (although the results aren’t permanent if you stop) leaves durable effects since you’ll get fitter, and reading allows you to grow for the things you’ll learn. And isn’t that more attractive?
It’s okay to feel gladsome to be praised for how one looks – yet we’ve got to not be bothered about any attempts by others to body shame us; and neither be a slave who (ironically blindly) worships those who society says look ‘ideal’ nor be a nasty person who looks down upon those who society says don’t. (The same with other things like prejudging people’s personalities just because of their level of wealth or fame.)
Woof! Please reply to the tweet linked to the Twitter comment button below if you think we should all try to feel happier in our own skin?