Thursday, 8 December 2016

Nice white teeth are great - but not so happy about makeup


I went to the dentist recently. It was only a check-up, but I'd deferred going for many months, and I thought I'd better get on with it. Financially speaking, it would be a bad month to discover that I needed something done, but I was pretty certain that nothing was amiss. And indeed, as expected, Nina had a good look then simply cleaned my teeth up as she usually did. (I tend to get tea-staining in between my teeth, especially the bottom ones at the front)

This time she found the staining quite stubborn, and she offered me a special clean-up using powder blasted onto the teeth. The fee would be £30. She promised me that my teeth would look much whiter. Why not, I thought? Let's have the Ultrabrite Smile that gets you noticed! I assented, and the result is a set of (for now) brilliant white gnashers, as in the picture above. I'm pleased.

Not that anyone has noticed! And in time the effect will wear off a bit, as my daily tea-drinking takes its toll. But I can think of many worse ways to spend £30 on supposedly enhancing one's attractiveness.

I haven't yet fallen into the ways of some older women who prop up their self-esteem (or delusions) by paying for very expensive beauty treatments. I'm prejudiced, I know, but I can't help thinking that any makeup (beyond a little sensible moisturising cream) prevents the skin functioning as well as it should. And the skin is after all one of the body's most important organs.

That's not the only medical problem: it's easy to see how plastering it on daily might create a psychological dependency, so that the wearer feels naked and exposed if seen without it.

Although expertly-applied makeup can look very alluring, it's still a covering-up of what is naturally there. I can't blame anyone wanting to hide blemishes. But the transforming impact of makeup amounts to wearing a disguise. It's a form of deception, and not necessarily harmless. Surely, the most honest thing is not to wear it at all.

I get annoyed when I hear about some service-industry employers - such as posh hotels - requiring their female staff to wear full makeup. Yes, it can make front-line women staff seem conventionally prettier, thus in theory attracting the attention of male clients. But that's exploiting female faces, turning their female staff into mere stage props. It goes with similarly-inspired rules about wearing heels, even when the woman stands behind a desk or counter and the customer can never see them. I thank my lucky stars that I'm retired, and don't have to work and be forced to look as some employer wants me to.

Which all begs the question, why - if I have these various good arguments and gripes against wearing makeup - do I use lipstick?

Well, for one thing, I don't do it at anyone's command - nor to sell anything. I do it for myself, because lipstick makes my lips look better-shaped and better-defined. And lipstick always enhances my smile. These are important points in a social context. But if anybody insisted that I wore lipstick, then I'd rebel, and just rely on a toothy smile.

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