Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Eyes Have It

This photo has been making the Facebook rounds today - I got it from here:

For those not in Taiwan, the look on the left is the fake-lashes-and-heavy-eyeliner look that is popular among many Taiwanese women now. 

Most of the comments in the thread below are along the lines of "too exaggerated!" and "looks scary" - but I doubt they'd say that if both her eyes were done up that way. It's only jarring because just one of them is done. One person said "ah, makeup can give us self-confidence". What I wonder is how we can get self-confidence without having to wear makeup, so that makeup is an expression of confidence rather than a means to finding it.

These before/after, half/half makeover projects are fairly popular in Taiwan (as in the rest of the world) - this one is just more surprising because of the way it's portrayed.

I found myself feeling similarly about this picture as I do about other makeover photos, though, including those from my home country.

My comment in the thread of that photo (basically, the makeuped side looks like a Fembot) is harsher than it perhaps needed to be, but honestly, I do like the makeup-free side more. I do think it's more natural, and therefore, to my eyes, prettier. I don't think the fake eyelash, eye-enlarging contacts and black eyeliner look popular now actually makes girls look better. I do not think it is objectively more beautiful. To my taste, it does look kind of Fembotty - although I like what they did with her eyebrow. By my aesthetics (which I admit are just mine), she went from no makeup (fine!) to needing a makeunder.

But that's my taste - other than the health concerns surrounding those contact lenses, if that's how a girl wants to look, well, OK. Good for her, she can do what she wants, and I too occasionally wear makeup (although I don't wear it to try to alter my appearance so much as I use it as color art for my face, and occasionally cover zits if my acne is really out of control).

On the other hand, wouldn't it be great to live in a society with a beauty standard that did elevate natural beauty, where this woman's right side, with no makeup, would be considered the prettier one because it was the one that looked most like her real face? And if she wanted to do something fun, crazy or different she could do that, too? And wearing makeup for fun didn't help perpetuate beauty standards that pretty, average women couldn't possibly meet without makeup? So that wearing makeup was, you know, a choice rather than a social imperative?

I mean, whether or not any given woman decides to try to look like that (the makeuped side), that is the beauty standard currently making the rounds in Taiwan. That's what's held up as "pretty". That's what women - whether or not they go in for it - are being encouraged to emulate. I'll always be something of an outsider in Taiwan, and I don't mean to judge the local beauty standards too harshly - really, it isn't my decision - but I do feel that as a woman who is also subject to beauty ideals, I have the right to an opinion on this and a right to be bothered by it, and a right to wish that around the world, beauty was set less by makeup and more by nature.


Julia said...

here here!

Richard Taillon said...

I think the side without makeup is more beautiful. The makeup just makes her look fake. I guess not many guys these days are into natural beauty anymore.