I was in a store a few weeks back with my mother. Whenever I go down there, I offer to help with heavy lifting, such as bringing in cases of bottled water or bags of salt for her water softener. Naturally, we go to stores where such products are purchased. In this case, it was a general merchandise store and Mom wanted to pick up some other things, including make up. There was a very large make up department, and the aisles were arranged by brand. My mother was looking for several products of different brands, so we traversed several aisles with each brand advertising its wares with pictures of what passes for beautiful models according to the fashion industry.
I should say here that I am generally a hermit. I don’t go out of my cave much. My wife does most of the shopping, and I certainly have not had any occasion to go into a make up aisle in my memory, except for when helping my mother. I also don’t watch television and use an ad blocker with my browser. I generally am not inundated by commercials or advertisements and have no idea what the latest fashion trends may happen to be. I also work from home and make money through the Internet. In other words, I am totally clueless on the fashion scene and have been blissfully so for decades.
What struck me as we walked through those make up aisles was the eyebrows. When I was growing up, women’s eyebrows were to be neat and relatively tamed. My father worked with this one guy who had veritable caterpillers of eyebrows, and unfortunately, his lovely daughter had inherited that trend. Now, I only remember meeting her once when she was twelve or thirteen, but I am certain that as she got older, she took efforts to control and tame those eyebrows. But she was the only female human I ever saw with such robust eyebrows. As I walked through the make up aisles, I saw eyebrows like hers on every model. I even stopped at one advertisement where it showed how to create these great woolly caterpillers to crawl across one’s face. It was like someone in the fashion industry suddenly decided that Frida Kahlo was their It Girl. What are these people thinking?
The fashion industry is in business to sell products. To sell more products, they vary the fashions from year to year. You certainly can’t be seen in last year’s styles, they’ll tell women and the nancy boys who pay attention to that sort of thing. The make up business is also in business to sell products. The more of their products they can get you to use, the better for them. What better way to do that than to promulgate some unnatural fashion trend that requires a lot of make up? Such as painting half one’s forehead the color of terminal hair that is only on a small patch of the face, for instance? Still, I suspect this trend will pass given a little time. Next up, we’ll have the trend of painting the whole face white with a few spots of red to look like a clown, as they did in Good Queen Bess’ time or in certain periods of Japanese history. These things come and go.
It is like the trend of skinny, narrow-hipped models in the fashion industry. I know that it has been a trend for more than fifty years now. One might speculate that it is partially fueled by fashion designers, both male and female, who like men and so want their models to look more like men. Other speculations might be even less charitable, but we needn’t go there. What is important is that this trend will not last forever. Why? Because we all know what is really beautiful.
What constitutes beauty in the long term is programmed in by our genes. What we know to be beautiful is determined by selective pressure to breed. Our genes want us to pass them on. If a guy liked women who had narrow hips and carried very little fat, in the old days his genes would probably not get passed on. Why? Because narrow hips mean a narrow birth canal and harder and fewer successful births. What about women with no fat? Well, no fat, no breast milk for the child. In many cultures through the ages, fat has been seen as a sign of prosperity. When the lean times come, and throughout human history they have come frequently, people who have easily stored fat have survived better, as have their children. More surviving children equals more of those genes passed on through the ages.
While there are some random quirks in the evolution of beauty, the reality usually comes down to signals of health and fitness to breed. The plumage of many species of male birds declares that these individuals are fit enough to invest resources in display. A healthy, wide-hipped, well-padded woman has the signs of a breeder, and nothing the fashion industry does can change that long-term. We know the truth.