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April 13th, 2007

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09:13 pm - The cosmetics dilemma
So, on Wednesday I indulged once again in the luxury of shopping for summer sandals, and while in the mall I grabbed myself a manicure set.  Of all the shallow, commercially-driven, media induced practices...but my nails look nice now <____<

The other day, when my roommate had some friends over, they started talking about skin-care products and make-up.  Being so unknowledgeable in the field, I sat to one side and just listened, the entire time wanting to rant that there's a few thousand people dying everyday due to a lack of funds to access food, and here they were discussing cosmetic products that costed anywhere from thirty to a hundred dollars for a tiny bottle.  One of the girls in the discussions was also someone in my field, and sweet a girl as she was, she definitely seemed more knowledgeable about which lotions to use to reduce the size of pores than international development issues. 

As with a lot of the luxuries we have the privilege of enjoying, from personal experience I've found that once you start using a lot of these products meant to beautify a person's exterior, people have a habit of starting to depend on them, and heaven forbid you then have to go for a week without using it.  I personally use a type of exfoliating lotion every 2 or 3 days and admittedly it leaves my face very soft and smooth.  Before beginning to use this, I was perfectly fine, but since I've begun using it a few years ago I haven't stopped.  Same with my hair-straightener.  My issue is, however, being in a field for international development, the chances of me going to a developing country first hand to work for a certain period of time in the future is fairly high, and imagine the irony if I go to, say Africa, where people are dropping like flies and I come in with a hair straightener in one hand and a bottle of exfoliating cream in the other attempting to convince them that I'm there to help them.

Another issue that popped into my head during their intellectually stimulating conversation was all the garbage that comes from all of this.  All that make-up and such we put on, we then wash off after.  The products containing all these chemicals goes down the drain into our water supplies.  A lot of people believe that our governments treat these waters, straining them and putting them through filters before releasing it back into our rivers, however, surprisingly that often is not the case.  We treat water coming into our houses for our own safety, but the waste water that goes down the drain is far too often simply dumped back into the rivers and lakes with no treatment at all, ruining ecosystems and killing all sorts of wildlife and vegetation.  Not to mention all those cosmetics and lotions come in little plastic bottles and jars, so once we're done with them we toss them into the garbage, and since plastic is non-biodegradeable, it sits there in landfills for god knows how many centuries.

My roommate told me that she planned to take a course on make-up, and I half-jokingly said she had issues.  She turned to me and said I was the one with issues, what's the big problem with girls wanting to use make-up?  Well, aside from the stuff I've mentioned above (along with it being shallow, buying into the media-given image what we SHOULD look like and participating in the capitalistic practice of consumerism unnecessarily), I thought it over for awhile and realized something.  The body you grow up with, particularly the face that you have, it's given to you by your parents.  The message you send when you start painting it red and blue with foundation, cover-up, eyeshadow, eye liner, mascara, lipstick, lip gloss, blush and heavens knows what else is; sorry parents, but I'm not happy with this face you gave me, so I'm gonna try and change it.  Make the eyes seem a bit bigger with eyeliner, make the lips a bit fuller with lipstick.  Now it's true, most people tries to strive for a vision of beauty as defined by the society of our time, so a little eye shadow and lipstick when heading to a formal party or meeting that special someone for the first few times is understandable, but when it starts taking hours every morning to get ready, when the spenditure on these products reaches three digits continuously and consistently, when you can't leave home without sticking something on your face because you're afraid of what other people will think based solely on how you look, don't you think a line's been crossed?

If given a choice yes I'd want bigger eyes, double eyelids, taller nose, longer neck, longer arms and legs, slender body, and all that, but I'm not, and I'm ok with that.  As long as none of these things interferes with health, who cares if my eyes are small and my arms and legs aren't twice the size of my torso?  I have something in my head that prevents me from having to rely on having big eyes and a giraffe's neck to survive.  I strive for a life that doesn't depend on having pouty lips and a size 10inch waist to make a stand for myself.  My future career field doesn't list these as pre-requisites.  Yes those movie stars and singers look gorgeous, but how much money do they spend on it?  How much time?  How many people do they have to put that look together for them?  How much waste do they generate at the end of the day from it all?  And how much did they depend on that look to make them famous and rich?

So the next time before you reach for that lipstick or that eyeshadow, hop online and do a quick search.  Take a look at how much resources went into making that tiny bottle, where those resources came from, how many animals were used as tests, if animal parts were actually used to make the product.  If thinking about the well-being of the environment and wildlife isn't your strong point, then take a look at what chemicals went into the product, how much of it, what effects such chemicals have on your own body, and what are the consequences of using it.  When people go to the shopping malls, we automatically assume that everything we see on the shelves have passed some sort of safety inspection by the government, so it must be safe to buy and use.  Unfortunately, these days, companies will do anything to sell a product and make a profit, even if it means lying to governments' and harming consumers along the way, and governments will often look the other way if companies in question are in some way connected to their ability to maintain or obtain power, such as contributing to election campaigns.

I guess, at the end of the day, it's between this post - save money, help the environment, save time and save space - and the manicured and decorated nails which typed out this post, I guess that's the dilemma that faces all of us.

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 14th, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC)
A lot of people believe that our governments treat these waters, straining them and putting them through filters before releasing it back into our rivers

Believe me, I do not trust what is coming out of the sink here in DC at all. Even just looking at it, you know something is wrong. When you pour it in a bowl, it turns cloudy. And not just a little bit either, REALLY CLOUDY. Its nasty.

I pretty much agree with you. I've only worn make-up once or twice in my life and because I was forced to by girly friends. "Lets do make-overs!" If I had a daughter and her friends came over and said that, I'd kick em out! lol.

I plan to wear some if I get married. xD like, for the wedding; the most special of days in a girl's life. xD
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
Yeah the quality of our waters are really disgusting and it's all our own fault. All that chlorine and chemicals they put in to "clean" it, I mean if it can kill bacteria, who knows what it does to the cells in our bodies. I really got startled the other day realizing how much junk people dump into our waters, the shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergents, dishwashing soap, I mean these are stuff we use regularly and god I feel awful for the fish in the rivers that get to swim through all of that ~_____~

Yeah I can understand using make-up for special occasions and such, let's face it, humans like looking "pretty", but using it regularly is way too much. I find people that use make-up regularly really lack self-confidence when it's taken off, they keep being afraid that OMG someone would spot that pimple on their nose or something.
Date:April 14th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
Well,I don't feel so bad now, b/c well...I don't wear make-up!But seriously,I totally agree with your opinion;you are such a sensible person Mengya.I think everyone's obsession with beauty has reached its limits,and is having a socially, culturally and environmentally detrimental impact.There is nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful,but it is unfortunate the extremes some people are willing to go to to achieve it.And I totally agree with you on the beauty-International Development career quagmire:I think starving and dying people could care less about the appearance of a person who is supposed to be helping them, and moreover,the point of studying in such a field (or university in general) is not to make everyday a fashion runway show (seriously,if you're ever here in Montreal,you have to take a walking tour of McGill),but to learn about these issues and apply the theoretical mumbo-jumbo into meaningful action.Take care-James
PS. You mentioned that your roomate told you that "you're the one with the problem" after this discussion about make-up and whatnot-it didn't lead to an argument did it?
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
Lucky you James, next time I'm coming to Earth as a guy, gender equality my ass. I just ignored her after she said that. It's so hypocritical, just the other day she was talking to me about climate change and then boom she does a 180 and gets all girly over products that are in no way environmentally friendly.

Pisses me off, I know the best way to influence people is to lead by example, but even myself I have a hard time justifying my views sometimes. Like I say I care about the environment, but look at my room, it's over-flowing with stuff that all needed resources to make. I say I care about the labourers forced to work in sweatshops, but most of my clothes come from stores that probably have a few sweatshops somewhere in the world, and when I go shopping, I don't go out of my way to find a labour-friendly store, I just go to the local mall and buy whatever's cheapest. I say I care about the starving people, but I'm like, 60lbs over-weight and my fridge is stock full of food. I preach on not worrying about the exterior but then I go and fangirl over Kazuki. Everything's just so hypocritical these days, and even when you don't want to be, it's the hardest thing in the world. It's like we're stuck in this society that just forces us to preach one thing and practice another.
Date:April 15th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
True, very true, but at least you have come to a realization of where our society has gone wrong; it's sad that there are many people who don't have even the slightest clue about the things that they use, eat, wear, etc. Don't beat yourself up over this, it's not your fault (or our fault collectively) that we live in a society that overconsumes and wastes, but having a personal realization of these faults and making changes are morally and socially tenable. BTW, your gender equality comment-priceless.-James
Date:April 16th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
save on everything!!!


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