I am not a product.
I’m not four limbs and a torso of stiff, ABS plastic, and a head of soft PVC.
I am not secured by four ties to three walls of cardboard with an acetate window to look out on coldly lit aisles
I am not stood on a shelf surrounded by my sisters and my brothers and my non binary siblings, waiting to be picked up by the hands of those who want me
I am not someone or something you provide a voice for, put in made-up scenarios, and put back when you’re done
I am not brainless or mindless
I am not tricking you with changing what is on my face from day to day, or from the clothes I wear
I am not a false advertisement because
I am not a product.
I am not a product. I am not a commodity because I flick my eyeliner and change the colour of my lips, or dress a certain way. It is how I express myself visually, an extension of my likes. Once that comes away I’m still the same person, I still think the same thoughts and laugh at the same bad jokes and dream the same dreams, because I am more than that day’s choice of outfit, that lip colour, that trend I tried.
I am not a product because I enjoy following sometimes, and forging my own path at others. Humans are wonderfully multifaceted, and we’re on this massive curve where it is sometimes necessary to contradict yourself in order to learn. We are not one thing, but many.
I am not a product because I do not define myself by what I have put on that day. It is not a trick or a ruse or a mask or disguise to hide behind. It is not an advertisement to or for anyone. It is not a false truth because this is who I am right now.
There is too much talk these days of makeup being a tool to ‘falsely advertise’ people. Memes like ‘take her to the pool on the first date’ or ‘why I have trust issues’ perpetuate a culture of mistrust of those who dabble in makeup or pursue it professionally. This is not some black magic voodoo that is used to ‘catch people out’ or trick you, it is a form of self expression; perhaps a confidence booster to some, or just a bit of fun for others.
Critique on the culture of painting our faces has created such a paradox. Paint and you incite ideas of fakery, trickery, excess, that too-much brand of intimidation; going bare-faced leaves people to wonder – or ask – if you’re feeling ok, are you sick, work must be hard huh, something’s happened and it’s usually negative. For the males and non binaries, the lists are expanded into makeup being an inherently feminine practice, or misidentifying. It’s a balancing act where the weights seem stacked, and the ideal or optimum is ‘natural’ for those who comment negatively.
But have you any idea how many products go into a natural face?
Sometimes I joke that if people honestly think I was born with winged eyeliner and lips that cycle through red to black then it says more about them than it does about me, but it does start the cogs whirring because why is there such a stigma around what people decide to put on their faces? Why does that extend into what people wear, when style and taste and trends are so transient, in the grand scheme of things?
I think all of us, secretly, are a little guilty of defining people by what is or what is not present on their faces, their clothing choices, the way they choose to express themselves. I know I have in the past, and the realisation that it’s a natural thing that we do in society – because society hands us a pair of judgy pants the minute we can form opinions – has me actively trying to condition myself to stop. If someone has made a choice that is good for them, their confidence, and is not hurting anyone else then why should they be met with criticism? People shouldn’t be shamed into conforming to an ideal that they do not share.
None of us are products. None of us are advertising anything ‘falsely’ because sometimes we contour, sometimes we don’t, sometimes we plan out outfits and sometimes we just throw things on and hope for the best.
None of us are products because we are all thinking, living, breathing people, with unique thoughts and expressions and most people do not falsely advertise themselves.