We have a double standard, it seems, when it comes to beauty. The natural look, it seems, is best – or is it?
Every time a celebrity appears at an awards ceremony who looks more like the regular people of her generation – with gray hair, a wrinkled forehead or the slumpy body that comes as muscles whither with age – there is a chorus of praise from some who hail her “natural” beauty.
But her beauty is natural only in relation to the other actresses, some of whom are the most extreme examples of unnatural beauty on the planet. Their facelifts and breast implants are just the start of a long line of surgeries and treatments to make them as perfect as possible on our unforgiving, high-definition screens.
But even outside Hollywood, is there anyone truly natural? Was there ever? And is there anything intrinsically wrong with trying to look attractive?
In Canada, it’s normal for women to dye their hair after it starts to go gray. In fact, even teens and children often use hair dye, often to make their hair lighter. Is this natural?
It’s also normal to wax, pluck, zap or shave unwanted hair on legs, faces, under arms and now, almost everywhere. Even men are now waxing their entire chests (while, oddly, growing trendy beards). Is that natural?
Women squeeze into control-top garments to create a firmer-looking body under their clothes. And their faces have makeup, their fingernails are fake, and they may have eyelash extensions as well as glittery jewelry.
These things make them feel more attractive to others around them. And that’s not necessarily bad. The “natural” look for which people are oddly wistful may have never existed. It has always been human to want to look our best to attract and keep an admirer. Long before the current traditions, there were razors, henna, girdles and cone bras. And people have always exercised to keep their bodies lean and visited salons to make their tresses less unruly.
The beauty treatments we seek not only provide confidence in how we face our world, they also make us more attractive to our partners. When we let ourselves go “natural,” when we no longer care about clothes or grooming, what we’re really saying is we don’t care to keep ourselves looking nice for the people we once attracted, that they are no longer worth the effort.
It’s natural to want to be beautiful to one’s mate. That’s how we all came to exist in the first place.
– Editor Christine Endicott