For most of my young life, I washed my face with Dial soap and walked out the door with nary a swipe of cosmetics. I’ve made a lot of changes since then. I don’t do much, but I like my face better with BB cream, blush, lip color, and defined brows. I feel like I look healthier, more polished, like an enhanced version of my regular self. But occasionally I come across diagrams like the one above – showing techniques for visually contouring the face using makeup of various colors and shades – and I realize that I’m only hitting the tip of the face-defining iceberg.
I wear padded bras. As I’ve mentioned more times than I ever expected to on a public website, I have perpetually erect nipples. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m ashamed of this, but I acknowledge that it can be a distraction. So I pad. And I will admit to liking how a little bit of extra volume in my bust balances my figure. But in my bra shopping excursions, I always avoid the super enhanced, gel insert, push-the-girls-sky-high models. The phrase “false advertising” floats through my head, unbidden and unwelcome.
I own shape wear. If I’m going out in a fitted dress and want a little jiggle-mitigation, I’ll slip it on. I have never believed nor seen evidence that shape wear can make anyone look five pounds lighter, but I know that wearing these undergarments changes how I look to the observing eye.
So much of what we do when we dress and groom is meant to amplify or enhance what we already have. Some of what we do is meant to alter how our natural figures and faces are seen and perceived. And what fascinates me is how each person, as an individual, feels about levels of enhancement and amplification. Some people would consider dying their hair to be an act of deception, and some would feel perfectly comfortable undergoing surgery to transform their body’s essential shape and consider it to be a welcome enhancement. It’s personal, variable, and totally fascinating.
I’d love to hear about the choices you make to enhance or subtly alter your appearance and how you landed upon them. Do you do padded bras? Contour your face with cosmetics? Wear shape wear? Color your hair? Have you had elective body-altering surgery? Have your experiences with these techniques and garments changed how you feel about your appearance overall? If so, how?
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Image via Batalash
This post and discussion have been refreshed and revived from the archive.