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The Beauty Facade

Danielle Pooley

The Beauty Facade

Danielle Pooley

Contents Beauty: Definition or Perception Beauty as a Facade Two Sides to Every Coin Sadness & Beauty Acknowledgements Bibliography

Beauty: Definition or Perception?


an beauty actually be defined or is it merely a perception? The Oxford English Dictionary states that beauty is: “A combination of qualities that delights the aesthetic senses.” However, the phrases that link with the definition seem to be perceptions: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” “ Beauty is only skin deep”.

Seeing as everybody is different, can beauty really ever be defined? No two people are ever going to be exactly the same. Even identical twins have slight aesthetic differences, even if it just a mole or a birth mark. Whether one’s skin is black or white, they live in a council house or a mansion, or if they are a teenager or a pensioner, everyone wants to be considered as beautiful. Marilyn Monroe once said ‘I was never told I was pretty when I was a little girl, every little girl should be told they’re pretty.’ Is being attractive more important than happiness or being successful? Maybe those aspirations are enhanced by one’s looks. After all, being attractive means an equally attractive partner, and people are naturally drawn to attractive people in every part of life. So why is beauty so important to human beings? Is it for self gratification or social acceptance? To begin with, 90% of a person’s judgement about somebody is based on their first impression of one’s appearance. As human beings, we thrive on people’s acceptance, some more so than others.

Beauty as a Facade


very time one walks through the beauty department of Harvey Nichols or Fenwick’s, you can’t help but notice the madeup beauty assistants. Their hair is perfectly groomed, their eye liner never falters, and their blood red lipstick never bleeds. Admittedly, they are paid to look this fabulous; they are after all representing the brand. And no matter what happens in their lives, they still look flawless. So for women where beauty is part of the job description, how do they carry on with their job despite parts of their lives falling apart? Is it because their beauty becomes a mask, albeit beautiful, which hides their lives imperfections? They are playing the part of the beauty assistant, they are a different person.

So why is it that we turn to red lipstick, our favourite Little Black Dress, and a new hair cut when we need cheering up? Because un-like indulging in a whole bar of chocolate, beauty won’t make you fat. And un-like drinking your sorrows away, it won’t give you a headache the next day. We all want to be accepted by society, and nothing says acceptance better than a compliment. You’ve already been told how well that red-lipstick suits you, how that Little Black Dress makes your bum look fabulous, and how a fringe would really make your eyes pop. Without those compliments though, are we still able to feel beautiful within ourselves?

Two Sides to Every Coin


eauty is from the inside as well as the outside – you don’t have to have a perfect face, but you might have a great personality or a smile that lights up the room. And that’s more beautiful than somebody with a pretty face but nothing behind it. I tend to wear make-up to disguise my flaws and emphasise my good features. I wear make-up because when my skin looks better I feel happier and more confident in myself. I don’t necessarily turn to beauty to cheer myself up, but knowing that I’m looking good is a consolation! Sometimes when I’m feeling a bit low, I’ll have a nice bath and pamper myself to feel indulged, but not really to feel attractive. Beauty definitely makes me feel happier. I feel much more confident in myself, and if my skin is clear I feel healthier. I feel that strangers can be more positive towards you when you look your best as well, but I don’t necessarily use it as a facade. To you, is beauty about self gratification or social acceptance? To me, beauty is about self gratification and social acceptance – knowing I look my best obviously makes me feel good on the inside, but I feel that I will be better received by others when I’m looking my best too – particularly with men and flirting!

“You don’t have to have a perfect face, but you might have a great personality or a smile that lights up the room. And that’s more beautiful than somebody with a pretty face but nothing behind it.”


eauty to me is not merely about products and treatments, beauty is something which has to come from inside. To me, if I’m not feeling well, or if I’m not feeling happy then in turn I don’t feel beautiful. Personally, I believe I wear makeup to firstly make myself feel better about my appearance; cover any flaws and make myself look more presentable and polished and secondly to make myself in a way more aesthetically pleasing to society. We have been brought up in an age of fashion, glamour and beauty and this I feel has a major effect on the way people believe others see them. The way that celebrities are portrayed on TV and in magazines is almost unattainable; however you still feel the need to strive to look like whoever it is you admire. For me, Cheryl Cole with or without makeup is beautiful, she never fails to look radiant and on her Kilimanjaro climb still managed to look perfectly preened without the need for makeup. For me, beauty is most definitely something I would turn to, to cheer myself up. From getting a haircut to buying some fake tan, I feel it can easily make a massive difference as to how you feel. Similarly, beauty although it can be something you can turn to in order to make you feel better, it is one of the most easy things to hide behind in terms of your feelings. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten out of bed, felt dreadful, put on my makeup and used it as a ‘face’ to the world. I guess it could be classed as being shallow by saying that I feel better when I feel I look good, but ultimately it’s the truth. I know I’d much rather wear fake tan all summer long to have nice summery skin than I would be my natural pale self. But then, the question comes back to is beauty self gratifying for me or just something I use to be socially accepted. After a long hard think about it, I feel it’s a bit of both.

“Although it can be something you can turn to in order to make yourself feel better, it is one of the most easy things to hide behind in terms of your feelings.�


eauty is what other people see. You can be having a really bad day where nothing you wear looks right, you have a massive spot at the end of your nose and you feel damn right ugly, then the next thing you know a stranger, perhaps behind the counter of a shop, is complementing you on your appearance. For me make up and beauty products are there to give me a bit more confidence, I find it very difficult to go out the house without some foundation and mascara on. I envy people who can leave the house without putting on their face first, they have the confidence, or they just don’t care about what other people think about them, all these people are natural beauties. I don’t particularly care about what others think of me when they see me in the street but I do need make-up to kind of hide behind in order to feel good in myself. I do like to have my pamper days, where I pluck my eyebrows, do my nails, put on some fake tan, use my body brush, etc. These days often make me feel better; make me feel fresh and new.

“I don’t particularly care about what others think of me when they see me in the street but I do need make-up to kind of hide behind in order to feel good in myself.”


eauty for me is not only skin deep, but what lies beneath. Without a beautiful personality, physical looks merely act as a shell. I wear makeup because it can enhance beauty and hide insecurities which I have; I believe for most people this is very important. I personally consider Claudia Schiffer to be a natural beauty because her looks are so timeless. I tend not to turn to beauty when I’m down; it is usually my family and friends that are able to cheer me up. I think beauty is often used as a facade, due to its diversity and range and the fact that people can achieve many different looks from simple products. But I always feel happier when I look good; the combination of makeup, hair and nice clothes gives me a confidence boost. I believe that beauty is about both self gratification and social acceptance.

“Without a beautiful personality, physical looks merely act as a shell.�

“You can’t not notice beauty when it’s there, but you can’t remember or describe it when it’s not.” Eden Clark

Sadness & Beauty


ven at times of despair and upset, people still seem to look impeccable. If one has ever attended a funeral, you can’t help but notice the appearance of fellow mourners. Men wear their best pressed suits and the women are a montage sequence of jet black silhouettes. Nail polish adorns their fingertips, tears stream down faces, yet the waterproof mascara holds their lashes long and thick. So why is it that as human beings, when we are feeling at our lowest or all dignity has been lost, beauty is still something we cling on to like a child does to their favourite toy? Maybe because it is the one thing that makes us feel better about ourselves, when everything else in our lives has gone wrong, or changed dramatically, the way we beautify ourselves is something we still have control of.

Even after Marilyn Monroe left hospital after a miscarriage, she still wore heels and a dress. Her soft blonde curls still framed her face, and her perfect smile still lit up her broken personality. Whether this was because she needed to maintain her image for the public eye, or whether she genuinely wanted to look as fabulous as she could because this was her forte. She had just endured a pain no person should have to, but maybe she wanted to mask the pain with clothes and make-up. Women in their 90’s, who have lost all dignity and look back at photo’s of themselves, not in envy but in admiration, still apply their favourite shade of lipstick and a spray of their timeless No.5 Chanel perfume. They still hold onto the one element of their youth: their beauty.

Acknowledgements Thanks to the models who let me photograph their beautiful faces and gave me their views on beauty: Katherine Harmer Laura Dixon Katy Wilde Makeeta Pooley Helen Dixon.

Words by myself and the above. Photography & Photographic Styling also by myself.

Antique Picture Frame courtesy of: TopArt

Published April 2010

Bibliography Books Cosgrave, B., Cohen, J., Marlowe, R., Phillips, K. & Radford, L. (2000) Vogue Beauty. London: Carlton Books. Thomson, D (2007) Marilyn Monroe: A Life in Pictures. London: Pavilion Books

Magazines Bailey, S. (2008) ‘Liv for Today’, Harper’s Bazaar, October, p.220. Bilmes, A. (2009) ‘The Zero Option’, Vogue, February, p.142. Boyt, S. (2008) ‘In Praise of Praise’, Vogue, November, p.195. Maclin, A. (2010) ‘Big Love’, Elle, January, p.90. Shulman, A. (2008) ‘On Beauty’, Vogue, November, p.242.

Internet Eden, D. What Makes us Attractive, Available: facesx.html (20th March)

The Beauty Facade