We normally associate the word “cosmetic” with the superficial and the trivial, with mere appearances, but this would be to mistake the whole thing. For to understand the cosmetic, we need to look at its root word, cosmos. ... What the term meant to the Greeks was not “everything” but the harmonious composition of parts that produced a coherent and beautiful whole. ... This cosmic beauty then extends down through each microcosm, each little part of the whole which displays its own order and beauty, and then right down to the little cosmos of a woman’s face. The need a woman has to order the world through beauty begins with the need to order her face.
From this habit of ordering herself (a habit which extends to women across all times and cultures) women move out to order the family. They take what resources they have, what gifts their men bring, what talents their children display, in what circumstances they find themselves, and try to compose all of these elements into an orderly whole. The habit of making up one’s face is practice for the task of making up the world.
Some will object that cosmetics are cheating, but this is not so (except in the extreme cases of cosmetic surgery and the like), for cosmetics will not make a plain woman into a great beauty, but they will reveal and highlight the beauty that is the birthright of every woman. Others might object that this is about appearances only, but appearances are all we have in the world. The cathedral is nothing but appearances, and we may judge whether the architect has truly captured the reality of the Church; the painting of the saint is just a bit of cosmetics on canvas, and we must discern the reality it depicts in its appearance.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Makeup: From the Practical to the Theoretical
I was impressed by the comprehensiveness of a recent guest post on Betty Beguiles, detailing "Everything You'll Ever Need to Know About Makeup". She highlights good tips for beginners, but makeup veterans will likely pick up a few new tricks as well.
This reminded me of an article sent to me by a friend, entitled "Women, The Cosmos, and Cosmetics", in which the author shares his thoughts on makeup and more from his outsider's perspective.