from the moment i wake up, before i put on my make up…
Earlier this year, well-known Australian beauty expert, Zoe Foster, released an app as a companion to her book on makeup, hair and skincare tips, ‘Amazing Face’. Having read the book myself, I have to say I am a fan of it. Foster is witty and amusingly self-deprecating, and actually made me interested in something I don’t normally give two figs about. And anyone who helps idiots like me be better at makeup and avoid schlepping around two year old foundation is very welcome, thank you very much. I liked her book so much that I bought it for my sister as a gift, recommended it to dozens of people and have frequently used Fosters other resources online.
But here’s my gripe with the app: it currently retails at $4.99 (AUD) on iTunes. Before I purchased the app, I noted that there were a number of reviewers that seemed dissatisfied with the content, and who thought that for five dollars, they were probably entitled to a little more. After purchasing it myself, I’m inclined to agree – the content is quite basic, and while I can understand that it is only a companion to the book, I can also understand the consensus that it was generally a bit of a rip off.
One of the major components of the app is a list of Beauty Must-haves. These “essentials” are grouped into the areas of makeup, bathroom, shower and hair, as well as two lists dedicated to makeup brushes and hair brushes, and a general list of THINGS U NEED BECAUSE BEAUTY. According to Foster, ‘Here are the [beauty products and tools] you will actually use and need. And if you don’t, you should’. This is all well and good, except that all up, there are close to EIGHTY products on these essentials lists. The makeup brush section has listed specific products, and the combined price of these 13 different types of brushes amounts to ALMOST $600. The list of general must-haves is also product specific, and that list comes in at closer to $400, including a mineral mask for $110. That’s a little over $1000.
You know what else you can buy for $1000? A return airfare overseas. Five pairs of spiffy winter boots. A new couch. Christmas presents for your entire extended family. Pretty much any number of things that would rock my world more than make up brushes. I started to get really pissed off about the whole situation, which is logical because I am a makeup tightarse and pretty much everything I slap on my face each day can be found in a supermarket aisle/Chemist Warehouse. When I calmed down though, I mused that I was maybe being too critical, because I mean, whose business is it if someone likes to drop that much cash on makeup? Certainly not mine. Just because some people (i.e. me) can’t afford it, certainly doesn’t mean any number of people can.
But I do think it sucks that women are marketed these products as necessities. I don’t think investing in expensive make up is like “investing” in expensive clothes, for example. You can wear clothes over and over again, and they look cool, and people can see them and notice them and be impressed by them. The irony of good makeup is that for the most part it doesn’t even really look like make up; it just makes your face faultless. Which is pretty great, but also a reminder that as women, our value as people is still intrinsically tied to the ability to be flawlessly beautiful, 24/7. The beauty industry makes squillions of dollars from making women feel awful about how their normal face looks. And here I was thinking that all I needed to spruce up my pimples and pigmentation was some tinted moisturiser and concealer, but now I’m being told that I need THIRTEEN TYPES OF MAKEUP BRUSHES?
Given that we women earn less money than men to start with and consequently will end up with even less by the time retirement rolls around, I just can’t get behind something so needless; these products that for the most part, do not exist for men – and they seem to get by just fine without five different exfoliators. And in talking about the money women spend on the business of “being beautiful”, this doesn’t even cover all the dollars we drop having hair ripped from our genitals and legs, buying underwear that compresses the fat in our bodies or paying someone perform invasive surgery so we look perpetually younger.
I feel I should disclose that I do wear makeup – and I like it. I wish I could wear less but I currently have the skin of a hormonal 14 year old. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to wear eyeshadow, lipstick and eyeliner, and I will strive until I can manage liquid eyeliner this flawlessly. But surely adult women, who are so much more than what they look like, deserve to no longer have product after product foisted on them, thinly veiled in shame and fancy marketing. We need only to look at the revolting social media commentary directed at Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli to understand the place of a woman in society who does not conform to what we call beautiful, and have an idea of how she can expect to be treated.