The world is filled with various types of tools, like hardware or cookware. A tool is also used to describe men who are jerks. One of the most powerful tools is makeup, and yes makeup is a tool. Makeup, like some of the tools mentioned above, is transformative. A person who understands the power of makeup and who posses the right skill set can transform themselves into who they want to be.
In my case, since my knowledge of makeup is limited, it takes me from someone who just woke up to someone who looks like they can function.
Makeup, for all its multi-purposes and power, gets a lot of slack. It’s often seen as feminine and frivolous, and more often than not, women are shamed for wearing it be it too little or too much. Really, it’s no one’s business if you decide to wear makeup or not, and it doesn’t make you any less feminine or masculine if you do.
One of the greatest aspects about makeup, is that it can be used by anyone. Depending on the country, the civilization and the culture makeup has often been utilized by both men and women. It’s purpose throughout history has remained virtually the same: to transform.
All civilizations viewed makeup as a tool. It shifted little boys into warriors, young women into ladies of the night and aging monarchs into eternal youths. It can hide scars or the bags under your eyes or it can transform you into your alternative self.
In some eras, makeup was a mark of one’s societal class. In China, during the Chou Dynasty, people dyed their nails certain colors to distinguish which class they fell into. For a while, the lower classes weren’t allowed to paint their nails bright colors as those were associated with Royalty. Europe in the middle ages also used makeup as a defining factor of one’s social class. Since peasants spent most of their days outdoors in the fields, they had a darker complexion while members of the upper class stayed indoors to preserve the lightness of their skin. A great deal of time was spent attempting to keep one’s face pale and this included using makeup.
White paint, that may have contained lead or arsenic, was applied directly to the face in what was later termed, “the Mask of Youth.” In England, Queen Elizabeth I was well-known throughout Europe for using white paint as evident by her portraits.
A popular makeup form in Egypt was kohl. Many of the products Egyptians used in what would be considered their beauty routines were meant to preserve the body. One popular combination included kohl, red ochre and sycamore juice, that was to be applied to scars or burns. They also created remedies designed to prevent wrinkles, improve their breath and hinder the balding process (or so some historians theorize).
Still, not all civilizations used makeup to preserve themselves or enforce classism, some cultures used it in ceremonies or in battle. Groups in the Americas, like the Aztecs, Incas and Native Americans were and are well known for utilizing makeup during such rituals. Aboriginal groups in Australia did the same.
Nowadays, makeup isn’t used to signify one’s class or if they’re preparing for battle, though it could be considered war paint. In this day, makeup is most often associated with females, though it is well used by all genders from thespians, to drag queens, to high schoolers. But like it did nearly 6000 years ago, it transforms what could be considered a blank canvas into a masterpiece.