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On appearances

(41 Posts)
WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 10:12:49

Does anyone else wonder how we got here - I feel like many women are obsessed with their appearance. Of course there is pressure and I understand that. There's also people who enjoy spending time on their appearance.

However, I'm starting to feel I don't know what an unmade up woman looks like - apart from me! I hear friends and colleagues talking about support underwear, millions of types of fabric cut, £80 eyelash conditioner - WTF?!

Of course i realise not all women do this, but I'm amazed how many do, how these industries get bigger and bigger. I had QVC on the other day - waiting for the gardening hour! - and the "before" and "after" pics of some outrageously pricey skin product looked almost exactly the same! And they were using it for sales!

And I'm getting very interesting responses from people for not dyeing my hair now i'm getting greys. I even had a neighbour comment on it - very rude, he apologised right away but I do realise that now people aren't used to seeing grey hair on a 40 something, which is ridiculous.

sorry that was mostly a rant. But I am wondering why so many women give into this. I do get that certain workplaces require you to look a certain way but the spending a ton on skin products goes further than that, I think? What do others think?

I maybe should add, I'm single so I don't feel any pressure to look good for a partner.

MyCrispBag Tue 24-May-16 10:25:20

I did something really stupid. I stopped wearing make up and maintaining my hair (as in straightening, blow drying etc) years ago. Recently I started a new job and thought it might be nice to dress up a bit. So I did my hair and put on a bit of eye make up. It was no bother for a couple of weeks but then I got bored of it... and realised I felt uncomfortable stopping... wtf? So fast I went from entirely happy with my hair in a 2 minute style and my face bare to relying, again, on make up and hair. Wanting people to think I am pretty. It was literally 2 months ago when I didn't give a single fuck.

I am glad I have written this because 'articulating' it has helped me decide that I am not going to do it anymore.

Felascloak Tue 24-May-16 10:35:54

Yeah I agree. It is odd. I was idly thinking about spending £300 a lumea the other day. Then I copped on to myself. £300!!! To remove hair that no one sees anyway.
I also spent lots recently getting my hair coloured as home dyes aren't touching the grey. I really resent it though but I feel I have to do it because of how society views grey hair.

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 10:47:55

I'm wondering how much of this is done is because of how society views these things.

I do feel things have moved really fast to get to ludicrous levels of grooming. Or maybe it's not that fast and I've just noticed it? I have vague memories of an actress saying that she used to like coming to the UK because it was easier to kick around just looking how you look but now the same expectations are here.

I live in London and I had a friend who lives around Lincolnshire countryside say to me that she thinks it's worse here. No idea if that's true or not.

boldlygoingsomewhere Tue 24-May-16 11:09:58

I'm not sure if the pressure has gone worse- I think there was pressure to look well turned-out in the mid 20th century. However, I think the pressures are more far reaching now- removal of all body hair, general acceptance of cosmetic procedures as normal, a very smooth face in famous women. It all contributes to a subtle pressure on the rest of us to keep up.

Teen girls certainly seem much more groomed than I and the majority of my peers were at their age.
'The Beauty Myth' still has so much relevance...
I'm certainly feeling the pressure now that I am late thirties to 'do something' about my looks in a way which is alien to how I thought previously - I'd always favoured a natural, no make up, tousled hair look. I found myself contemplating Botox the other day! The messages are quite insidious.

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 11:38:42

Boldly, I know what you mean about the stuff getting more intensive but that's a contributing factor to worse pressure, I think.

So for example, if it's a norm to have botox (is it?) then it becomes even more shocking not to dye grey hair.

I have one friend who had botox and I was a bit shocked when she told me she had been having it for a while. She said "oh well, now I've told you, next time you will really notice the difference in how much better my skin looks".

I didn't. I suppose part of why I find this alarming is that I find it shocking that people notice this so much in and in such detail. And then I feel that women are embracing it instead of saying "no fuck off, even if I'm loaded, why would I buy eyelash conditioner at all, much less for that kind of money".

AuntDotsie Tue 24-May-16 11:45:12

I'm a bare-faced, natural-haired 30-something. It helps, if I'm honest, that I work from home so don't have to mingle with the general populace if I don't want to.

I realised at some point that make-up actually makes my face uncomfortable. Eye shadow irritates my skin. I have freckles, so most foundations look odd on me anyway. Lipstick is annoying, weirdly textured, sticky gunk that gets on teeth and needs constant reapplying. Or it's that stays-on stuff that just dries the skin out.

The thought occurred to me that all these cosmetic companies are selling you stuff to paint on your face, stuff to take the paint off, and then stuff (moisturisers etc.) to mitigate the negative effects they have on your body. Why not just not use them in the first place and save yourself some cash? So I don't. No face washes, toners, skin-coloured gunk (although never MY actual skin-colour), nothing but water and a bit of moisturiser for me.

I don't think anyone's really noticed or cares!

NotCitrus Tue 24-May-16 12:51:17

It does seem to have become more expected that women will make efforts to achieve a certain doll-like appearance, in the last 10-15 years - about the time straightened hair came in. When I was at school over 20 years ago we mostly wore makeup but except for very special occasions the aim was to look reasonably natural, and no makeup was allowed at school. I can only assume schools permit obvious makeup now?

People say the current fashion for shaved pubic hair came from porn, so I wonder if that's where the thick foundation, shaped eyebrows and lots of mascara and eyeliner also came from.

I've never worn much makeup and can't apply eye makeup myself - I'm glad I met MrNC young as his take was one of the things he loved about me was I could get out of bed and be ready for a ball in under 10 minutes! It's always been women telling me I should make more effort, and in some cases getting really resentful that I have had boyfriends despite not going to their lengths.

I have found that once you bow out of makeup and dressing to attract, then you end up questionig all aspects of capitalism and society and then sometimes not fitting in in other ways - which I don't regret but it's always a worry before starting new jobs or activities.

VestalVirgin Tue 24-May-16 13:07:18

I think, nowadays, many men who claim to prefer women without makeup actually mean they prefer invisible makeup - all this stuff used to hide pimples, make wrinkles look less deep, etc.

I couldn't use makeup if I wanted to. Just never figured out how to apply it so it doesn't look horrible.

Am a bit worried about my chances on the job market because of this. I currently work from home, but it is not really working for me.

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 13:10:26

NotCitrus, why is it a worry to question those things before starting new stuff?

I've never done "dressing to attract". Mine was the Pete Tong/Boy George era so there was an element of dress to get in a club but it was more about statement dressing, it wasn't linked to attracting a bloke. It was more amusing as well - big fake fur jacket and sequin top sort of thing.

I forgot to say - one thing that triggered this is my sister - she says it takes her longer and longer to get ready in the morning. She's terrified of getting older though. She has every anti-ageing potion known and now she has a bunch of stuff to do with that as well as putting makeup on.

It has occurred to me - I won't lie - that if this works, in ten years time I might look like the older sister when I'm the younger, but I just can't fathom spending that amount of time and money because you are worried about ageing. Yes it is sold, but we are free thinking so why don't more women reject it, I wonder?

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 13:11:55

Vestal "Am a bit worried about my chances on the job market because of this. I currently work from home, but it is not really working for me."

ooh, can we swap?

yes, the work thing is a pain, if I didn't have to work I don't think I'd look in a mirror much at all.

Felascloak Tue 24-May-16 13:51:56

vestal I don't wear make up and its not been an issue at work. Although I think some studies show women in make up are percieved more favourably.This article might be relevant

chunkymum1 Tue 24-May-16 14:19:43

Reading this thread with interest. I remember my DM telling me when I starter work how lucky I was that there is not the same pressure to always wear heels/full make-up etc to go to the office that there was when she started work (in the 60s). At that time I would go to work in a suit with flat shoes (I am quite tall so never felt the need for heels) and only wore make-up if I had an important meeting. I would wear make-up if I was going out with a boyfriend or getting dressed up for a night out but not just to go to the pub.
I noticed about 10 years ago that the fashions seemed to change and it became the norm again for the younger women at work to wear frightening looking heels and very fitted suits/dresses, as well as very obvious make-up and hair dye. The more fake looking the better seemed to to be the idea. Interestingly, whilst working in this environment I was encouraged to attend 'women in business' events. The speaker at one of these was described as a 'networking expert'. The highlights her advice were that women without make-up will not be thought of as as professional as women in make-up (and therefore we should all wear make-up at work) and that we should all carry (as a minimum) a brush, lipstick and small mirror in our handbags (ideally a small make-up bag) so that we may check and adjust our appearance before any meeting/being introduced to anyone important.
I am now a SAHM in a fairly small town so have opted put of the 'city' to some extent. As I very rarely wear any make-up (maybe once a year if I have a special event) and my hair care routine is basically 'get a haircut, wash it, brush it'. There are quite a few like-minded women around me but even in this small town there seems to be an increasing pressure for those that haven't opted out completely to spend more and more time and money on 'beauty'.
I (very occasionally) think that maybe I have let myself go and that at my age (40+) I should have a skin care regime at least. At these points I wonder if I will look back and think I have somehow wasted what looks I have now by not 'enhancing' it with make-up etc. Then I realise that the advertising etc messages are working on me and remind myself that even if I bought all the lotions and potions I would forget/get bored of using them and that they would probably make no difference even if I gave two hoots whether I have the odd wrinkle or imperfection.
I worry a bit for my DD who is growing up through this. As a PP has said, there seems to be more and more pressure to have all body hair and natural features removed and fake ones painted on.

GreenTomatoJam Tue 24-May-16 14:53:41

I work from home now, but still feel the pressure to put on a bit of something for video calls - enough to make it obvious I've made an effort (and I'm not just slumming around in my dressing gown, that I'm a proper professional). I hope that I wouldn't judge someone I was interviewing for not wearing makeup (although I might if they wore a lot actually), but I know that I'm already a short, fat, woman, in a man's industry, of a certain age, with kids - so I just feel that I need whatever edge I can get from slightly improving what I look like (I'm freckled and pale too - so I can't wear much without looking weird, plus contact lenses, and never having trained myself to not rub my eyes)

I don't use any kind of cleanser or anything though - ever since I hit peak Japanese saki water skincare, and realised that I'd paid 50 quid for funny smelling water to slap on my face every day. I stopped everything, and it hasn't made a blind bit of difference.

Grimarse Tue 24-May-16 15:08:55

I can think of three possible aspects to this;

1. Cyclical fashion, which varies over time, so that this is a passing phenomenon,
2. Capitalism - companies after your money, using societal pressure to get it,
3. The Patriarchy - looking to subjugate women and make them merely objects of beauty, reducing their worth to mere appearance.

Is it important how much of each factor is at play here?

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 15:12:28

Green "ever since I hit peak Japanese saki water skincare"

I'm not sure I know what that means but it makes me lol!

My friends are always surprised by the absence of grooming stuff in the bathroom.

It is so disappointing when even a women's networking person is advising make up. So it's not far from what I said - soon we will forget what an un made up face looks like. It's mad.

I haven't done a work video call from home but I must say that would annoy me - I don't do Facetime for similar reasons, I don't understand why my mates need to see me when they ring me! But yes, I would certainly put a jacket on or something.

I don't mind jackets etc or whatever men are asked to wear as well.

re the money on Japanese water, I think a lot of people say "oh the difference in my skin is amazing" because they want to believe their expenditure is worthwhile. My sister's monthly skincare/grooming bill is huge. She earns three times as much as I do but I still wouldn't want to spend that.

AuntDotsie Tue 24-May-16 15:35:34

Oh, and contouring. Fucking contouring! Trompe l'oeil for your face! That can sod right off.

EmpressTomatoKetchup Tue 24-May-16 15:39:39

It is so disappointing when even a women's networking person is advising make up
I attended a women's leadership series which included a bit about the importance of appearances at work. Clothes, shoes, make up, voice, body language all add to the whole image you project about yourself. I don't think make up wearing was explicitly advocated but I generally assumed that his meant if you want to be taken seriously you need to project a certain image.

Meeep Tue 24-May-16 15:47:37

If you go out, without make up, and everyone else is wearing it, don't you feel... I feel like everyone is looking at me thinking I've not made the right effort, like I'm an awful lazy scruff or something.

MrsJamin Tue 24-May-16 15:59:28

Even the mumsnet work fest was sponsored by nice n easy, implying that you need to cover your grey to get back into work! I found that sponsorship really distasteful.

Basically the hair, make up and age thing is all about giving the illusion that you're still young enough to carry a baby. Over 35 and you're approaching being too old to have a baby so you mustn't age beyond that because if you can't carry a baby as a woman, what use are you to society? Its just so very very wrong and misogynistic but how can we fight against the beauty industry?

AuntDotsie Tue 24-May-16 16:02:04

I think everyone's far too busy worrying about themselves and their own appearances to be bothered about mine.

I also think there are some women in the public eye who don't do the make-up thing - Mary Beard and Ruth Goodman spring to mind. I bloody love them!

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 16:03:00

contouring - yes, I have noticed products for this in Superdrug.

Meeep - meep meep! (sorry) - I guess all my friends know I don't do make up and I hate dressing up, but when in a gathering with other women who have a lot of make up on, I don't really care. It's not a secret that I don't spend time on my appearance though.

This Thursday, I've got to go to a do with my sister - well okay, I haven't "got" to, but it's something she really wants to do and it will make her happy so off we go - I won't be miserable or anything but it will be more of a dressy occasion than I like. I know I will be surrounded by dolled up women and I don't care. It isn't me to do all that.

I do wonder how many women just go along with this because other women can do it, but that has to start somewhere. I think perhaps there's enough people who really enjoy it, then they do it, then others feel they have to do it?

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 16:04:24

MrsJamin, I've never thought of pressure to look young as being for that reason at all, that's a new idea for me tbh.

I didn't know about the Nice and Easy thing, that's a pity in a way.

GreenTomatoJam Tue 24-May-16 16:23:59

It was some byproduct of the Saki industry.. it was literally water, which smelled slightly of Saki, which you were supposed to splash on your face twice a day for dramatic effects. Then I realised what I was doing.

Actually, there was a second peak moment when I gave up shampoo (only possibly in soft water areas I have found out) - I saw an advert for a mouthwash that dealt with 'drymouth'. Not a medical product (I know some drugs cause a dry mouth), just, you know, a dry mouth. Of the type you would generally cure by drinking water. That's when I swore off the shelf of hair care, and my hair is absolutely fine for it. Turns out bicarb followed by lemon juice work just as well (again, no good in hard water).

Empress is correct - there's a certain image you need to project, and for women, that generally includes looking like you've made some kind of effort with your face if you're in that kind of role. I would say that HCPs, Engineers onsite, other practical jobs it's actually detrimental to your image to wear obvious makeup, but for managers, sales, consulting, image is a part of your role, and for women the expectation is a certain amount of makeup or you look like you don't belong - the equivalent of wearing a cheap suit to a directors meeting.

WriteforFun1 Tue 24-May-16 18:00:03

oh Green, that made me laugh!

In my 20s I had a flatmate who was seriously in debt - about £15k. She bought some skin product for about £30 for a tiny bottle and kept telling me how amazing it was and then one day she came home and said "I got given a tester but I want to give it to you so you can get some idea of how amazing it is, your skin will look fabulous".

I didn't have any spots at that age, I was lucky. I almost let it go - but it was weird watching a friend in debt waste more money - so I said "is there anything wrong with my skin that you think needs correcting?"

and she faltered a bit and said "oh's just.. you might enjoy using it".

I do think that somehow people have kidded themselves that they enjoy spending money on this kind of thing and that partly explains the money aspect. But for me it doesn't explain the time aspect, or the amount of self criticising that must be going on. I didn't notice a difference in her skin - but that's probably because there was nothing wrong with it in the first place.

I agree that in certain places you look like you don't belong. I just wish it wasn't so all pervasive. I feel it's worse now than it was a few years ago. There's been a proliferation of beauty salons in my area, and nail salons, and where I live is quite rough. I also really battle to find a hairdresser who will just do a cheap trim. The people who used to do mine had to close down because no one wanted those cheap haircuts.

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