Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Make up

I watched a woman applying makeup on the tube this morning. I've never seen anyone paint so many shades of brown onto herself. At one point I wondered if she was actually applying varnish. First came the rouge, which was plastered liberally onto her cheeks and swept across the forehead before being dragged down her nose. Then came the eyeshadow in the same shade as the rouge, before a pot of darker brown powder was dabbed
under her eyes, like someone artificially pollinating a pumpkin flower. She'd already done her eye lashes. They looked like giant spiders. She then smothered herself in lipstick, painted some kind of dark ring disguiser under her eyes, and then used some more bronzer to finish the look off. I have seldom seen such a variety of brushes and dabbers and sponges being used in a ten minute make up
session. I used to get told off at school for applying too many layers of paint to my pictures. The rice paper always used to go soggy. She'd have done well to remember this, because by the time she'd finished, the poor girl looked like a freshly creosoted fence!

As I looked around the tube (such an unforgiving light) I was aware of quite how much make-up I could see. The beautiful-skinned Asian woman next to me had painted her cheeks with deep pink circles which looked like terrible bruises, the girl who stood up to my left was so desperate to look pale, that she'd bedecked her face in something which looked like dry toothpaste. I could see every brush mark, every neck line, every open pour, every spot "concealed" with a big dollop of something. The overall effect was either incredible greasiness or flaky dryness, and I thought how weird it must be to be so unhappy with the way you naturally look, to want to, or be expected to, change things so profoundly and so unnaturally. The first woman, the teak sideboard, looked so much more attractive before she caked it on. What on earth's going on?

I am, of course, not anti-makeup. Drag queens look fantastic in make up, and I understand why anyone would want to make their eyes stand out, or go to town on the whole face to create a vampy character for a night out, but in the harsh light of day, and when it's so badly and obviously applied, I find myself questioning why it's done.

I can only assume that the majority of straight men are either not attracted by natural beauty or, more worryingly, that some women THINK they're not, and feel that men would actually prefer the chicken fillets, the blob-busting pants and the fake tans to the actual truth.

Perhaps this view is somewhat coloured by my sexuality, and the fact that I find imperfection a great deal more alluring than unnatural beauty, but surely all of these deceptions must ultimately lead to huge disappointment, when the man finds his woman's face smeared onto the pillow next to him, or when he cups her face to kiss her goodnight and his finger tips sink into something altogether too gooey. When he realises his girlfriend's sultry fat lips and generous cleavage are an optical illusion; a bodily trump l'oeil.

I was on my way to Shoreditch to see Philippa for my first dramaturgy session on Brass. It was a hugely rewarding experience. We went through my treatment with a fine tooth comb and Philippa was able to point out all the places where she felt I'd missed a beat or not quite developed a character's story. I think the musical will be a great deal stronger as a result. We even managed to brainstorm a new ending for the piece, which I'm a great deal happier about.

From Shoreditch I buzzed along the central line to White City for a "thank you" meal with some of the people who'd worked on our recent film. I discovered many interesting things, a few that surprised me, a few that shocked me (the BBC is a wonderful and frustrating organisation in pretty much equal measure) but most interesting of all was the fact that one of the community champions on the White City estate had once been a highly successful actor, who'd had a starring role in some of the early episodes of the seminal Robin of Sherwood series in the early 1980s. The one with the Clannad music; "Rhaaaabin (bling blong) the hooded man... (Dum dum.)"

And now I'm heading home. I'm gonna kick off my shoes, sink into a sofa and do nothing but watch telly for the rest of the evening. Bliss!

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