Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lipstick, Birthrates, Firearms

This topic was discussed on the Catholic Restorationists site some weeks ago. Some bloggers follow the convention of inserting links to relevant articles. I do not, except when I do. This encourages laziness in readers and if I am to encourage laziness it will be in myself. I'll not drag you down with me. Besides, it is high time you learned to google.

One of the ladies at church this Sunday asked me what it is I do to make a living. I work in the beauty industry.

The lady in question proceeded to challenge me to reconcile my occupation with my Catholic faith. Apparently aware that there exists today in many women a superlative vanity and lack of modesty, she looked quite smug. She does that.

I answered that she might as well ask me to reconcile gin with tonic.

I hoped she would understand when I pointed out that tobacco, alcohol, and even firearms are open to the possibility of abuse, but that these are all good and generous gifts from the Almighty.

Likewise, I said, beauty comes from God and women are supposed to look good. Thus, to seek or give aid in it is no sin, even though some find ways to abuse it.

Anyway I got to thinking and if I had to choose, I would rather argue that a married woman has a positive duty to wear make-up, rather than the opposite view. Of course, neither is exactly right, but I just don't understand the frumpiness that seems to grip so many of the young orthodox Catholic women of today.

I only thank heaven I found a cute protestant girl before I became an Evil Traditionalist. And traditionalists are the worst of the lot; this circa 1982 drab turtle-necked nun-chic with a single dab of ill-chosen colour in the middle of her squinty, tight-lipped pucker.

This cannot help the birthrate.

The next thing you know, there will be calls for teetotalism. It is a kind of puritanical Calvinist insanity to reject physical beauty. I don't see why it has caught on among Catholics while even the weird sober evangelicals are still teasing their hair and painting themselves up like Miss Texas.


bearing said...

Hey John, I'm glad you posted on this.

Doesn't it seem that there's sort of a tension here, though? It seems to me that the true and good purpose of cosmetics and grooming choices is to accentuate and bring out the natural beauty. It's not just showing something beautiful that's the goal -- it's showing that the person is beautiful, showing the person in the most beautiful light possible.

So if you change the appearance to the point where you don't show the real person anymore -- is that a false beauty? At some point do the alterations send the message that we don't find real people beautiful?

J D Carriere said...

I should have replied to this sooner. You are perfectly correct, I think. Your first paragraph is true and your second is insightful.

It is now possible, with enough spending, to falisify pretty well every aspect of physical appearance, either permanently or temporarily. I have joked that you can't tell anymore if a woman is actually nice to look at, or if she has just bought all the right products. It boggles.

So I think you are right that the message is being sent "that we don't find real people beautiful".

Terribly dangerous, and I cannot think quite what started it. It is not as if there was a sudden steep decrease in male attention for women that necessitated this drastic and mass falsification of beauty.

JimmyV said...

I always appreciate when someone pushes my brain to process information differently (and still in an orhtodox Catholic fashion).

I like the reminders that beauty is a gift from God since that is a point that is often lost on those who respsect tradition.

I can think of a variety of causesfor women to want to beautify themselves more, in no particular order: modern art and architecture turning the mind awat from actual beauty, an unstable social group forcing women to have to attract new men when the local boys move to bigger things, the predominance of youth culture and marketing towards youth causing an idolatry of youth.

Thanks for getting the cerebellum pulsing, I might have to write a post on this sometime.

Ebeth said...

John, We had a neighbor when I was a kid that said, "A house without shudders is like a woman without lipstick." I'll never forget that, and I never look at houses without checking if they have shudders. They just don't look good.

As a housewife, I feel that it is only fair that I greet my husband with a presentable appearance, even though he tells me I don't need makeup, I still feel that this is best. I feel good and that projects to him at the front door. However, being married to a Texan, I refuse to tease my hair! Ouch!

Just a woman's input.

cricket said...

I shudder when I recall how few shudders there were in my house growing up. Sometimes we had to close all the shutters so the neighbors didn't guess.

beitiathustra said...

Don't you beg the question by saying that beauty products aid beauty? To speak plainly, wouldn't your argument go as follows:
Women ought to be beautiful.
Beauty products make women more beautiful.
Therefore, women ought to use beauty products.
The problem is that your entire argument hinges on the minor premiss, which is by no means demonstrated. Your further examples have more to do with clothing than anything else, so I'm not sure how you answered your "smug" questioner.
I think maybe a better way of stating your argument would be:
Every woman should conform to my standard of physical beauty.
Products, X, Y, and Z are conditions for my standard of beauty. Therefore, every woman should buy products X, Y, and Z.
Isn't that a bit too much capitalism? The solution to a lack of physical beauty is just a makeup counter away? I suppose all women should have breast implants, and whatever other plastic surgery necessary to conform to a puerile notion of beauty that seems to be upheld here.

J D Carriere said...

Sorry beitiathustra, you're off.

It's as if you've commented on what you think I think.

The question under discussion is the objective morality of seeking beauty or aiding another in seeking beauty.

The efficacy of any particular beauty-seeking strategy is not even discussed here.