Wednesday, 20 April 2016

First experiences of beauty

As part of this work in Paris, I've been exploring how beauty fits into a woman's life (sorry boys) at different ages. I started to reflect on my own experience and realised that, even as someone who's never highly prioritised appearance, the influences have been there almost right from the beginning.

In early childhood I remember being keenly interested in my mother's makeup bag, watching her apply lipstick and blush in the front room mirror and of course wanting to emulate her. I also remember receiving toys with plastic lipsticks and 'make your doll pretty' instructions.

The 'Barbie Loves Beauty' styling head is recommended for girls aged 3 years +

On my tenth birthday, I had a group of friends from school join me at the local ice skating rink. My boyfriend gave me a bunch of daffodils while one of my female friends gave me a makeup compact, much to my mother's horror. I remember being surprised that it would be allowed, but delighted because birthday presents were a binding contract of ownership!
Makeup compacts designed especially for the beauty-conscious child

I do remember that, by the time I was 11, I had read enough magazines and seen enough adverts on TV to know that a woman has to use moisturising cream to keep looking young. I thought that, by starting really early, I would mature into the youngest-looking woman in the world. So I started using some of Mum's skincare products whenever I spotted them in the bathroom. As I rubbed the creams and serums into my face, I would imagine a future where I would be interviewed for my beauty secrets.

Isabella Rossellini told me to do it!

Starting senior school at 11, I was teased for having hairy legs and begged my mother for the equipment needed to start shaving them. I also thought my eyebrows were too hairy and tried to shave those off... and logic told me that if you shaved your legs then surely you must also shave the hair from your arms..?

Of course as a teenager it was all magazines and peer pressure, makeup tips and images of young models with perfect skin. I'd steal goodies from Mum's bag and collect free samples... I guess if I was a teenager now I'd be watching videos on YouTube and reading beauty blogs, trying out all the different techniques.

Anyway, on reflection, it seems that I've spent my entire life being shaped by the world of beauty, even if I did resist it as I grew older and my priorities changed.

And now maybe I'm part of that system... I go to children's parties as a face painter, with a book full of ideas themed on favourite films, superheroes, animals... but so frequently the girls will ask to be made up like Miley Cyrus or other favourite celebrities, with coloured lipsticks and black eyeliner.

How was it for you? Did you also have dolls, books, things to influence you as a small child, or did the 'pretty priority' come later? Do you have children now and do you see them being influenced?

No comments:

Post a Comment