Every time I look in the mirror I feel ugly. Why is my face is so puffy today? Ugh, not another grey hair. The beauty industry is built on selling us ideals of im/perfection. Your face has too much acne, but this product will cure it. Such-and-such magical cream will make you look fully airbrushed 24 hours a day. We are never perfect, but with a little beauty boost we can get there. At one level it’s pure business because the only surefire way to get us to purchase beauty products, from lotions and creams to masques and makeup, is to convince us that there’s something innately wrong with our bodies and that these products are the only thing that can salvage us.
In this fascinating TED talk, makeup artist Eva DeVirgilis talks about how women from various ages, backgrounds and ethnicities sit down in her chair everyday, but what’s remarkable is that within the first three seconds they apologize to her about the way they look.
“I’m sorry you have to touch my face. Look at this breakout. I look disgusting,” a woman told her once.
Another: “I’m sorry but I am not a pretty woman.”
“The doctor says I have to lose weight. So, sorry, this is what you gotta work with,” went another.
Why are we so critical of our own bodies? What drives us to apologize about our appearance in the face of beauty? The big takeaway from this talk — a makeup artists’ perspective on women and beauty image issues — is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful because beauty inspires confidence in all of us. When you feel good, you do good. But it is totally impossible to live up to a beauty ideal that really only exists in Photoshop and pornography. We need to take care of ourselves and make sure we feel like our best selves for ourselves, not according to what we’re told beauty is supposed to look like. Will it take sickness or death for us to appreciate what we have? How can we be — and look like — our best selves?
Watch the clip and leave your own beauty stories in the comments.