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Face it!

Carol Martindale

Face it!

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Barbadian women aren’t only using more make-up to boost their look but also their confidence.

With more women putting on their “second face” daily before they step outdoors, whether it is to the supermarket, work or a wedding, those in the business say make-up helps to boost an image, as well as self-esteem.

Make-up artists, and those who sell a range of cosmetic products report that in recent years they are seeing more and more women, across classes and ages, using make-up.

They also debunk the belief that women who wear make-up are fake and artificial in appearance or personality.

The issue of women wearing make-up was triggered yet again when in the new Shonda Rhimes series How To Get Away With Murder, lead actress Viola Davis stripped herself of all her make-up and bared her “naked face” to the television world. This unmasking evoked the ire of some and even before that, there was debate on social media about whether Davis was “less classically beautiful”.

Michelle Farrell, manager of Exotica Make Up, does not believe for one minute that women who wear make-up are fake or artificial.

In fact, she said every day she sees women who are trying to improve and perfect their look.

She noted that nowadays, women were especially into lipsticks and eyebrows.

Farrell, who has been in the make-up business for the last three years, said she has seen changes in the trends during that time.

“When I first started people were mainly into lip glosses, now they are into lipsticks in a big way. We are seeing all types of people getting into make-up. It’s about feeling better, feeling confident and completing their look.”

She also said more women were coming into their stores to have their make-up done or requesting make-overs.

Farrell said while some women may overdo their look, the average woman does not.

“It’s all about  trying for a different look sometimes,” she said.

Make-up artist Kamilah Codrington of I Heart Make Up believes that social media plays a big role in women’s love, and magnetic attraction to make-up.

Codrington, an artist for the last five years, agrees that make-up can be a confidence booster.

She said she has been seeing more women using make-up nowadays, from young school leavers to young adults. She noted that before it was mainly mature women.

“I think it has to do with watching music videos on BET. On BET everyone looks perfect and women were trying to achieve that look. Also on YouTube there are tutorials where people sit in front of their cameras to help you to change your look, using certain brushes, techniques and products. Also with social media, like Instagram and Facebook, you are constantly focused on make-up so you can’t help but be obsessed with it,” she said.

Codrington, who has been dabbling in this industry for about ten years, said there was a time when she used to hide behind make-up.

“I wouldn’t leave home unless I had my make-up on. That was then, not now,” she said.

This businesswoman also noted that make-up was like a drug, addictive in nature.

“If you receive a lot of compliments it becomes addictive as well. It is like a drug, it is a boost in confidence,” she added.

Codrington confessed that she was a fan of make-up. She said she didn’t subscribe to the view of some that it was artificial, noting that society could sometimes stop people from properly expressing themselves.

“There used to be a stigma attached to make-up, but not now.”

Daniela Santos, a student in the cultural studies programme at the University of the West Indies, whose research focuses on beauty as a resource for self definition in cultural identity expression, traced the links of aesthetic practices that involve the application of “coloured substances to the body, as part of rituals, beauty enhancement and skin care to ancient Egyptians.

“The cosmetics used by both women and men varied from oils, minerals, seeds and flowers to adorn or alter the appearance of face, lips or eyes. In modern days, the use of make-up is more focused on artistic purpose or as a form to improve or change appearance,” she said.

Santos noted that make-up was now used as a way of “embellishment”.

“Make-up is an aesthetic practice inscribed in everyday life, performed by women of all ages and ethnic groups, and applied in different forms. It has a relatively low cost; thus it is democratic. It is a self-reliant practice; since its does not require the assistance of a professional. Its benefits or results are quickly observed. It is versatile; it can be applied in the entire face or only in selected areas like eyes or lips. Above all it involves personal taste and creativity,” she explained.

The student said sometimes make-up could be perceived as vain, because it produces transformation in appearance and concealment of an imperfection.

“Certainly there are women who use this beautifying practise believing that without it they are not beautiful,” she added.

“If taken into consideration that the application of coloured substances in the body has been historically practiced by different groups. We see that it is associated with forms of self-expression and expression of cultural values, since all beauty practices are believed to be embedded within a cultural context. If seen from this angle, women’s beautification practices can be understood as a way to present a certain public image while externalising aesthetic values relevant to their culture,” she further explained.

Santos noted that, for example, black women from São Paulo, a southeast city in Brazil, prefer to wear make-up in a discreet, almost shy way without using much colour or using the “nude” style, “which is how we define a way to wear make-up that blends with our own skin tone”.  

“On the other hand, the ways I see Barbadian women wearing make-up, range from the discreet use of only lipstick or foundation to more expressive full face production with great emphasis on the eye area. What these forms of make-up have in common, is the use of colour, a keen sense of creativity that results in a flawless appearance,” she added.

Santos said she believes make-up goes beyond a vain practice of female beauty.

In her opinion, “it serves as an instrument of self-definition and cultural-identity expression”.