koneko_desu (koneko_desu) wrote,

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.
Tags: environment, politics, rl
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