Something is Wrong with This Picture

Lafayette          My daughter inadvertently gave me a stock market tip.  I thought it was interesting, but I haven’t been watching the stock market much with my few dollars and cents since Black Friday.  I’m surprised you don’t remember that date:  October 13, 1989.  Heck, it was only 30 years ago, but I’m getting off the subject.  She speculated that cosmetic companies must be going crazy because so many women were being forced into wearing makeup because of technology.  We’re talking about selfies here.

When my daughter speaks, I listen!  I’m serious.  This is like putting year ear to the rising cry of an entire generation.  I could see her point.  I hardly know how to take a selfie, and, frankly, the whole idea I find kind of appalling.  I never refuse a member or book buyer or random stranger, when they ask me to stand with them, but the whole process is still kind of mystifying and uncomfortable.

But, for millennials, this must be the price of being alive everywhere and, perhaps unfortunately, anywhere.  Phone cameras are ubiquitous.  Random shots by friends and foes can turn up anywhere.  Who wants to have sleepers in their eyes and bed hair frozen forever on Facebook?

So, I listened, and kept my ear to the ground for confirmation of this trend.  Sure enough, front page, Wall Street Journal, almost a year after I got the tip or overheard her exasperation, there’s a story about cosmetic companies pushing makeup for the gym.  Of all places!  The gym where fitness and health should be paramount and where you get your sweat on.  But I guess there are not only roaming eyes, but creeping cellphone cameras there as well.

The gym is the least of the problem compared to the streets and byways, offices and gathering spots.  Is there no safe place left? A simple internet search confirms that cosmetics sales are rising and have been doing so, making the answer to that question likely, no!

In the #MeToo moment and a time where we also see rising surges of feminism, shouldn’t the sale of cosmetics be decreasing?  Isn’t there a contradiction here?  Shouldn’t women, young and old, feel more empowered and able to escape the male gaze?  Instead, ubiquitous cameras, social media, and the commonplace selfie seem to be increasing the pressure on men and women to do whatever they can to enhance their public presentation.  Especially for women, the beauty business is booming, even as their role and voice in public and private life is increasing.

How can a person’s private space be protected?  The value, grace, and, yes, beauty, of the natural is being attacked as technology, corporate avarice, and social pressure combine to reduce women – and men’s – ability to find comfort in their own skin whether private or public.

Something is wrong with this picture.

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Please enjoy Red Bull & Hennessy by Jenny Lewis. Thanks to KABF.

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