Here is an excerpt from a book I’m working on. Hopefully you’ll get some insight into my point of view on cosmetics.
I believe that wearing makeup is a natural part of the human experience. Occasionally I hear people talking about how women who wear it are being “fake,” or are trying to hide behind it. I don’t share this view. I believe wearing makeup is an art form to be appreciated and respected.
Almost every animal on this planet has markings and coloration to either camouflage themselves, or attract a mate. Chameleons change color to blend into their surroundings as well as to attract mates; and we all know about the peacock who shows off brightly colored tail feathers when he is looking to woo a female. Yet the most interesting piece of evidence I have discovered while researching is: some birds put on makeup. Yes, you read that correctly. In 2010 Juan Amat and his colleagues published a study in the journal of Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology showing evidence that flamingos, among other birds, change the color of their feathers by applying substances that either the bird itself creates, or it finds in its environment. Humans are animals that don’t have special markings or camouflages so we must use our complex brain to compensate, allowing us to decide how we should look.
Wearing cosmetics isn’t a recent development either. It has been around as long as humans have been living on this earth. This is evidenced by Archaeologists in southern Spain finding shells containing pigment residue suggesting Neanderthals painted their bodies. According to a team report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences they have pretty solid evidence that Neanderthals were using complex recipes to create different colored cosmetics, possibly foundations, and lip colors, not just body painting materials, and this was 10,000 years before any contact with Homo Erectus. If people were applying makeup that far back I feel confident saying that it is in our human nature to do so.
But facts aside, makeup is pretty; and if it makes you feel good about yourself, or gives you a creative outlet, then I say go for it! If you are a makeup artist, or studying to be one, I congratulate you on keeping alive one of the oldest professions, dating back to ancient Egypt. And if someone comments on your makeup saying, “That looks great on you, but I could never pull it off!” Ask them if the bird of paradise “pulls off” its brightly colored feathers!
For more reading on the shells check out CBC News.