The Beauty Blunder
By Amal Ghazali
One fine day, I received a DM (that’s ‘Direct Message’ for you folks who might not be aware of social media slangs) from someone in response to a picture of myself that was posted online. “Hey Amal, do you want to get rid of your eye bags? #seriousquestion”
I was taken aback. My eye bags? I quickly grabbed a mirror to check my own face. Yes, I had eye bags. And yes, I have had eye bags for many, many years of my life. Also yes, sometimes I do think of them, a natural reaction like any other normal woman out there. But no, I don’t obsess over them because there are many other more important things in life that needs my attention.
I wanted to tell that guy “yes, I would prefer to get rid of them if I can”, but I’ve found out that this same guy sells beauty products that swear to make you lose weight and have skin shinier than your white bone china plates. He had also asked me if there were physical aspects of me that I didn’t like and would like to change. I immediately sensed that this was just some trap to sell me some products, so I said I was happy with my face.
Was I happy with my face? Let’s just say I am 'okay-ish' with my face. I do what I can with mine. I don’t obsess over why my eyes aren’t blue or when that small brown spot appeared. But that day, my eye bags bothered me. It seemed that the guy’s question over them has made me feel a bit more insecure than usual about how I looked.
You’re Enough – But Not Really?
Don’t get me wrong. I love makeup and beauty products just as much as the next girl. I too buy serums that are supposedly able to give me translucent skin a la Cate Blanchett in those SK2 commercials. I love mascara that makes my eyes look like I slept for 10 hours last night. I enjoy these things and how they make me feel and look.
However, the direct intervention from Eyebags Guy made me think about how there are some beauty capitalists out there that would resort in leveraging on women’s insecurities in order to sell their products. How many times have you seen this around? Drink this, look fairer and your husband will love you more. A picture of someone with a bigger frame and zero style, and the next picture shows the same person with a smaller waistline while dressed in haute couture, suggesting that somehow, being skinnier makes you more stylish (by the way, style is about having good taste, and less to do with your body shape).
The beauty industry is a force to be reckoned with. My office is located just above a large shopping mall, and one sweeping look around makes it rather clear that physical care plays a big role in our society. It certainly plays a big role in my life as well, from the clothes I wear to the creams I put on and the membership cards I hold from my favourite apothecaries and makeup outlets. But in the midst of all these various choices, it is important to seek the values of these brands as well.
Be Conscious Consumers
Ultimately, what is the purpose of beauty to you? If I am reflecting that thought upon myself, I would say that beauty is the tool that helps me feel empowered. By having or wearing the stuff I need to make me feel like I am at my best in terms of appearance, it makes me feel good about myself. When I feel good about myself, my self-esteem is enhanced, and this takes on about how I carry myself on a day-to-day basis in my career and my social interactions with people.
That being said, there is a lot to think about when contemplating brands that seem to leverage on a woman’s sense of self-worth. In cases where the campaign begins with instilling the idea that you are not enough, or that there are parts of you that needs to be changed in order for others to like you better, it provokes the observation that it is not about celebrating women at all.
So what can you do? You can begin by being a conscious consumer. What’s the morale of the products that you are purchasing? Does it cater to the diversity of women? Does it encourage you to celebrate what you are and focus on enhancing your personal qualities instead of coaxing you to try and look like something you’re not? Does it impact your health? Remember that brands rely on consumers in order to flourish, so you are responsible for determining what kinds of ethics would dominate your beauty industry.
It’s something that I am certainly going to pay more attention to in the future. Hopefully, I would be doing my part in encouraging empowering ideas of beauty before I buy a product and put it in my eyebags. Oops. Sorry. My bags. I meant my bags.