08 March 2010

Should Women Wear Makeup?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine informed me that most Japanese office ladies would wake up at four in the morning to get prepared for work. Despite of the necessary time needed to travel to the city, most hours are devoted to showers and wearing makeup. This interesting phenomenon in Japan provokes in me a sudden reflection on the women of Hong Kong whose aesthetic sentiment is somehow wedded to the mentality of the Japanese.

It remains interesting to me why the women of Hong Kong, while having an awareness of the danger of bankruptcy, nevertheless surrender themselves to skincare and cosmetic products under the brand name of Biotherm or Shisheido at all cost.

If skincare products seem so important to women, it is because skincare products are able to ward off possible dermatological disasters. It bothers them when, after facing the verdict of a mirror, certain areas of their faces are in protest of their recent lack of care of their skin therefore plan to swell into a considerable amount of vengeful pimples. Pimples are often not built on compromise, likely to be incapable of explosion, taking days to disappear and threatening to leave traces of scars.

As to cosmetic products, perhaps in the female hierarchy of beauty, women like to think themselves pretty, if not beautiful. They are rarely willing to surrender to another feminine creature who possesses an aesthetic superiority which allows no comparison hence find value in physical beauty and harbour a wish to enhance it by means of cosmetic products.

To some social scientists and sceptics, however, such behaviour is worthy of suspicion, something invented to cover up their lack of inner beauty such as intelligence and artistic temperament. But is this really the case?

Quite the opposite. I find most women of Hong Kong bearing the wisdom of the French philosopher Rene Descartes. Descartes' scepticism asks the question, "How do we know that everything around us actually exists? Could it just be a hallucination which we are all victims of the deception of our senses?" Descartes suggests that the only thing that escapes from doubt is the process of thinking itself. The process of thinking is stripping itself of uncertainties until the irrefutable truth appears. But there is one problem that he ignores: How then can we obtain truth? What can he do about it?

In like manner, women often contemplate the question of what they can be loved for. Their looks, their intelligence, their wealth, their jobs, all these will eventually surrender to the extraordinary durability of time. They are beyond their control and subject to change. They may reflect success for now, however, likely to vanish given sufficient time and misfortunes. So they run into the same problem Descartes has. After stripping away uncertainties, Descartes is only left of a doubting mind which is irrelevant to the aim of his contemplation. What, then, are women left of? Not so much but only a pure consciousness which exemplfies the fact that they exist. Little wonder they keep spending their fortune on skincare and cosmetic products.

Therefore, my dear reader, can you still lay your hands on your heart and say that these women in Hong Kong lack the supposed inner beauty? We all have been told that women enter the period of maturity earlier than men. Early in their puberty, they already realise the wisdom of Descartes. Men, alas, perhaps still read comics and watch cartoons at the same age. But men and women are never equal. It is just a delusional feminist vision, isn't it?



  1. true, Will! I feel myself invisible when I strip off my makeup at the weekends. (and it's quite relaxing)

    though Hamlet told women off by saying "God has given you one face and you make yourself another", makeup does remind me of my existence and what I should and want to behave.

    Btw, Shiseido and Biotherm won't make us bankrupt. My girlfriends dispose their wealth on La Prairie and La Mer. That's how we cling on to our past beauty.

  2. Of course, Biotherm and Shisheido won't you guys bankrupt (I am in fact a customer of Biotherm), but that's because I didn't even mention those cosmetic products in my article.


  3. I was mildly excited when I saw the accompanied choice picture. I thought the post would be "Should Women Wear Clothes?" Anyway, "Should Women Wear Makeup?" while not as exciting but still good. You got my attention right there. My expectation from such a title was naturally "yes," "no," "or something" from W. And it turns out to be that "or something" though I have to admit defeat in finding what that something W wants to say. Once W starts name dropping Descartes then I know there is no way I would understand what he's trying to say. Actually I tried reading it three times but without success.
    But here is my take. I think women shouldn't buy into the concept or marketing bullshit that it's "polite" to wear makeup when at work. I don't know what kind of bullshit that is but it sure is bullshit. Once upon a time I did hear some female auditor who pontificated the merit of painting one's face when at work. I found it absolutely repugnant.

  4. Anonymous,

    It isn't that hard to understand. Basically, Decartes says that our senses could deceive us, therefore it is possible that we are all living in a dream. And this process of thinking is considered a process of stripping away certainties. What he is only certain of is that he is thinking. He is only left of a doubting mind.

    The same for women. Their looks and intelligence etc. fall into the category of uncertainties because they are all subject to change. What they are left is their pure consciousness, the fact that they exist. Therefore, in order to exemplify their existence, there is only one thing they can do about it and that is to wear makeup. Though their looks are subject to change as well, that is already the best they can do. Because at least physical beauty can be seen by our own eyes!

    Does that sound better?

    By the way, whether it is "polite" to wear makup depends on whether a woman's look is presentable at all. If yes, it's all good and well. If not, then she should wear makeup.


  5. W, thank you for taking the time to explain to me but being a philistine I am afraid your effort is wasted. But much appreciated.

    The word "presentable" is pretty loaded. But I guess that's how things are. In some parts of the world women (and men alike) are still required to submit photographs and age is a factor for job application. I think that's very unfortunate.

  6. this is flocking retard people motions or habits can be broken down to 2 things to gain pleasure or two avoid pain obviously by women wearing makeup its to avoid pain from being mocked by other women and to gain pleasure by looking pretty. if you haven't worked it out by now that our advertising works.... sucks to be a woman in more ways than one

  7. Wow, Anon.

    You have a crush on Bambi?


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