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The Ugly Truth About Beauty (Part 1)

Updated on April 5, 2017

Are models exceptional or ordinary?

Photo by Jennifer Lord
Photo by Jennifer Lord | Source

Beauty Undefined

The truth about beauty is overwhelming, fascinating, costly and a little bit deceptive.

Websites are filled with beauty advice, news, gossip, the latest in fashion, skin care, what to wear, looks to avoid and celebrity nonsense. In my quest to understand the truth about beauty, I have visited web sites, retail stores, read blogs and stalked the ‘experts’. It seems that the truth changes with every article, every expert and every celebrity-related event.

Beauty cannot be pinned down by a skincare line, one person, one look, one designer or one brand. It isn’t owned by any single company. It is a multi-billion dollar business with companies, celebrities and media screaming for more; more product, more blogs, more photographs of models, celebrity and more youthfulness.

Men fall for it, women want it and big marketing budgets keeps it on the front cover of magazines, the front page of web sites and store shelves. Beauty is everywhere, yet somehow elusive.

Beauty seems to be defined by a world that is in our face, telling us what to wear, where to buy and looks to avoid. It is based on here-today-and gone-tomorrow popularity. It is media chaos, yet it is carefully controlled. We need to recognize it as temporary, a myth, an unresolved fantasy, a quest that chases youth and a mystery that affects us all.

Beautiful in Black and White - and No Makeup

"Rita" | Source

The overwhelming distraction of information

One click on Allure and I am instantly overwhelmed as a woman and as a consumer. The Allure tagline is ‘The Beauty Expert’, so naturally a lot of their readers will implicitly trust whatever advice is posted. But where does the line of trust begin?

There are so many messages on the page that it’s impossible to focus on any area for more than a few seconds. Flashing banner images include; The Ultimate Hair Guide (41 gorgeous new looks), Color of the Moment, Lauren Conrad’s Allure Cover, Amber Valleta’s Anti-Aging Device, Five new Mascara’s to try, and 10 Hairstyles that take off 10 years.

Well, sign me up already.

Banner Ads You Can't Ignore

There are banner ads for Sample Society where I can sign up for free beauty products and it only costs $15 per month. I’ve been to Ulta, Sephora and The Body Shop and can’t imagine that the sample sizes for this monthly deal would be adequate in size to do very much. Maybe I’m wrong, but luxury brand beauty products in these stores can be cost prohibitive.

When the brand name is worth more than the products actual value, attributes or abilities, I lose interest. Perhaps the value really does exist behind the marketing of youthful deliciousness but I’m not buying. I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a daily beauty routine. I’m not interested in keeping up with the Joneses or anyone else and I’ve reached an age where some of the marketing and product claims are just ridiculous.

Interactive Beauty Tools

The editors at Allure have made it easy for users to find the right product for hair, skin and makeup through a clickable tool. I gave up on viewing all the options because quite frankly, I don’t have the time. I selected the following options for ‘hair products’ based on the choice of Blow Dryer or Diffuser. The other options included hair type, texture, concerns, style and price. The tool provided me with one option which is the Remington T-Studio Blow-dryer featuring Silk Ceramic Technology.

Out of curiosity, I returned to the Price button and selected Money is No Option. Suddenly, I have nine options. Only two products have prices listed next to them. I selected the John Frieda Salon Shape Hot Air Brush for $35.99 and a message box popped up requesting my zip code to ensure product availability. Although there was no confirmation about the product availability, the allure MY SHOPPING BAG appeared at the bottom of the page with the product and a Checkout button.

So for $35.99 + shipping, I can solve my hair problems which are; dry, color treated, straight and thin. Awesome. Beauty problem solved. Next.

Beautiful Jewelry


Paid Advertisers

Oh snap! I returned to the home page and got distracted by an image of a couple standing hip-to-hip in the snow and sharing an obviously intimate moment. It’s a ZALES ad called LET LOVE SHINE and users are encouraged to click the text at the bottom of the ad, “SEE THE CELEBRATION FIRE”. ­Clicking the ad took me immediately to the ZALES landing page. I moused over the text to see what would happen, and two and a half rows of text appear. I guess I’ll never get to see the celebration or the fire. Yawn.

I would love to see the story that ZALES is trying to share, but perhaps some other time.

Celebrity Influencers

The big sell of the day is a pop-up ad by Restorsea™ with Gwyneth Paltrow. This ad has popped up three different times, so I went to google for more information and found this interview by eonline. In the article she explains that the product was sent to her and the company is owned by a woman. She also spoke about the importance of using natural products, but there is no other information about the Restorsea™.

This beauty product is “A Gift from the sea” and is a “Natural Way to Ageless Beauty”. There is analytical data to back up the claims with Clinically-Proven Results. So that’s great. Allure doesn’t have a Sex / Dating / Relationships section, but if they did I have to wonder. Would the ad for this product pop up on that page as well?

Sexy images sell products


All That, And a Bag of Chips

I skipped on over to Glamour and the site isn’t as intimidating or overwhelming. It is laid out well with a menu of options and you can scroll the main page...all day long. I selected the link to Beauty.

Omg. I’m trying not to be distracted by the Must Read’s column that includes Carrie Underwood’s Workout Moves for Miniskirt-Ready Legs. Too late, I already clicked. Oh boy. I’ve never liked my legs and never worn a miniskirt. Carrie however is gorgeous and has great legs.

Another distraction. When I clicked the last image in the series of Carrie’s great legs, the Next up box promises me 9 Workout Moves Guaranteed to Improve Your Sex Life. Shoot me. You know I have to look. But then a dynamic banner ad under the first image shows Mr. and Mrs. Sexy showing off Vera Wang diamond jewelry. Really, is there any wonder that we aren’t all diagnosed with ADD? I clicked the ad because I need to see that gorgeous ring. One click and I return to ZALES but this time it’s for Vera Wang Jewelry.

Now Trending in Beauty

Back to the Beauty tab. There is a Trending Now tab and I select Makeup. There are endless images of gorgeous women wearing flawless makeup, and I don’t see the actual product. Well, that’s interesting. I click on an image of Kate Middleton (aka) Duchess of Cambridge and find that her makeup technique is explained in numeric code. The Duchess is wearing eyeliner, gray eye shadow, dark gray shadow, mascara and pink blush. That’s it ladies. Now you too can look like the beautiful new mommy of the newest heir to the throne.

Surely there is more information. I clicked on an image of Jennifer Lopez and her beauty tips. Flawless skin. Check. Gorgeous jewelry. Check. Perfect hair. Check. Apparently, people are only interested in the shamrock green color of her eye shadow. I think it’s perfect, but when I click the link within the article to ‘eye shadow’ it took me to a page of other famous women wearing eye shadow.

From Victoria Secret model – Adriana Lima and her cat-eye look to the most gorgeous purple eye shadow in history to Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Kate Blanchett, the list of perfectly made up women goes on and on.

There are dozens of ways to apply makeup, and ladies lean on tried-and-true methods. However, to update a look due to an event, clothing, or even age - it's easy to find video tutorials. YouTube is a great source, and you can find everything from covering acne, applying foundation to creating dramatic eyes. The great news is that most videos are created by ordinary people, and the information is free.

Eye Shadow Tutorial

Internet Beauty Tips

There are dozens of ways to apply makeup, and ladies lean on tried-and-true methods. However, to update a look due to an event, clothing, or even age - it's easy to find video tutorials. YouTube is a great source and you can find everything from covering acne, applying foundation to creating dramatic eyes. The great news is that most videos are created by ordinary people and the information is free.

Beauty Versus Ordinary

How are ordinary women supposed to manage the same stress-free looks? The quote, “It takes a village” comes to mind. None of these celebrity women achieved their looks without the help of experts that did their hair, makeup, jewelry and incredible clothes. How are teens supposed to know that this is a fairy tale image? It may be Red Carpet, but it isn’t real. And that’s the ugly truth about beauty. It is temporary, fleeting, but pervasively marketed and promoted and is very profitable.

© 2014 Michelle Orelup


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