Sunday, 31 January 2010
Non Gendered Make-Up
I am beginning to question whether the burgeoning use of cosmetic construction of the face and body by designers and artists is symptomatic of the sense of dissatisfaction we have with our physical appearance as a result of being bombarded with images of perfection by the mass media. Is the practice of using the face as a canvas a strategy that enables us to exercise a degree of control over our circumstances where there are very few other opportunities for self realization? Contrary to the notion of the use of cosmetics as oppressive, it is clear that those who engage in using it outside the boundaries of 'normal' application see the sense of empowerment that it can elicit and that the use of artificial constructed 'cosmetic' faces and bodies seen so far have gone some ways to contravene established norms of beauty.
Used as a tool to subvert dominant patriarchal ideals of beauty, designed cosmetic bodies have the potential to be used to stage new non gendered identities. Refashioning the face and body opens up the possibility of highlighting the artificial nature of beauty while undermining neo-romantic conceptions of the body as 'natural'. Although conventional make up practices present the altered face as natural, it is possible to envisage the normalising of cosmetic practice that actively seeks the artificial construction of the face.
Similarly, in Women and the Knife: Cosmetic Surgery and the Colonization of Women's Bodies, Morgan argues that cosmetic surgery can be employed in a subversive way by demonstrating the artificial nature of the body. She proposes the use of cosmetic surgery to produce what culture constitutes as 'ugly' so as to destabilize the 'beautiful'. The advent of new biotechnologies such as IVF, genetic engineering and cosmetic surgery has provided us with the capacity to intervene in and refashion our bodies, radically changing our perception of the body, matched equally with the ability to alter our perception of the body through the lens. Subsequently the body is increasingly coming to be regarded as a social, cultural and fashion construct, capable of radical transformation.