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The truth behind beauty rituals

Ideal beauty is ideal precisely because it doesn't exist: the gimmick lies in the gap between desire and gratification. That gap is indeed a lucrative one. That's where advertisers and marketers meet to feast over our insecurities which, not so ironically, seem to come out when we leave the real world to dive into the realm of 'you, too, could look like her, if only...'. I am talking about the beauty department store.

ideal beauty is a myth

What's the first thing you see when you walk into a beauty department store? I'll tell you: very large photos of gorgeous women that made a living off their beauty and talent, and have a team of people that make them look the way they look.

"And there's Photoshop."

That's what the boyfriend says every time I sigh looking at posters of Cate Blanchett's perfect face.

The second thing you see is a well lit mirror, placed precisely at your height, surrounded by shiny objects and with a chair that begs to be sat on.

Chair shaming!

To reach that chair we have to pass a blatantly disorienting prism of mirrors, miracle elixirs, and ranks of angels, the models on display. So we sit, and the face we see reflected is definitely not the face we remember having when we left home. Our mortal world and self-worth fades in our mind at the shame of feeling out of place. Sure, Cate and Kendall are still smiling around us, but we come to realise, it's almost like they are laughing at us from their ethereal position.

Even sales assistants around us look almost too perfect to be mortals. But they are humans just like us. The magic must be in the miraculous products they can give us! We, too, could look like them if only we bought their secrets!

Obviously logic dims as lighting increases.

The unapologetic Naomi Wolf wrote that these elite beauty rituals offer to sell us the light that was ours all along. Spoiler alert! To do so, they ask women to negotiate a three-dimensional world, with changing lights and shadows, by two-dimensional rules.

Beauty is only visual.

And visual is the sense monopolised by advertisers, who can edit it much better than can mere human beings. There is absolutely no doubt that a studied pose, with the right light, flattering make-up, and professional photo editing, would look better than my face after a long day at work and a run under the rain to reach said department store.

Department stores fall into the category of ‘non-places’, because in there you are not who you are anymore, everything you can do is to compare. Compare your old products to new ones, compare a shiny pink bottle and a shiny white bottle, compare your face to the one you could have if only...



Article inspired by 'The beauty myth', by Naomi Wolf.
Image: via

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