There was a very interesting post + comment thread yesterday over at The F-Word. The talented Rachel shared her experience covering a local child pageant. She was struck both by the level of creepy as well as the high cost of preparing for and attending these events. That led to a discussion of daily makeup/beauty routines and how much people spend on products.
It got me thinking about my own cosmetic use. I didn't learn how to put on makeup from my mother because my mother did not wear makeup. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I saw her in lipstick (always in her teal-green "fancy" dress and black flats). I was a makeup virgin until the seventh grade. In retrospect, learning makeup skills from fellow seventh-graders was perhaps not ideal. I remembered watching, fascinated, as one of my friends easily drew a thick line around each eye. I was too pale for much eyeliner, but hoo boy did I love silver glitter eyeshadow. That was an unfortunate time.
I toned it down eventually, and throughout high school I went through periods of not wearing any makeup at all. Around junior and senior year I settled into a routine of foundation, concealer, blush, mascara and occasionally liner/shadow that took me all of seven minutes to complete. Now I omit the blush and liner/shadow for everyday. I buy drugstore brands (I was horrified by the cosmetic-counter prices when I went for prom) and the most expensive thing I have now is my foundation, which was about $8. I have a couple of lipsticks that I rarely wear, several glosses, and a couple tubes of balm. Things like lotion, razors and deodorant I consider hygiene expenses. Maybe the razors would be more cosmetic, though.
Hair, too, is a tricky hygiene/cosmetic border-crosser. I use a 2-in-1 shampoo and on rare occasions use a very light gel. Again, drugstore brands. Plus my short hair doesn't need much shampoo at all - I bought the current, half-empty bottle in early January. I don't dye my hair, partly because I'm a little afraid to.
The point of this and the F-Word's discussion was not to demonize or criticize women who use expensive cosmetics or large quantities. There's not a darn thing wrong with wanting to look professional, sexy, cute, fresh or whatever. And it's okay to want to look natural or forgo makeup as a non-verbal "fuck you" to the patriarchy or consumerism or whatever. I just think it's interesting as all hell how we (women especially, but dudes too) create our outward appearances every day.