International: Of poisonous lipsticks and pyramid schemes

Date: June 28, 2012
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Johannesburg, 28 June: While flipping through my iPad I came across this startling headline and corresponding information:

“Don’t Look Now, But There is Poison In Your Lipstick: In fact, there is poison in a lot of stuff you rub all over yourself every day, from shampoo to deodorant to, yes, lipstick.”

The content of the article appalled me. Those companies that provide us with lipstick, deodorant and shampoo are exposing us to a cocktail of harmful chemicals. Your morning routine will probably give you a loving kiss of aluminium, antifreeze, lead and a few other nasty products for good measure.

A 2010 study called What’s Inside That Counts found that out of 12 500 personal care products, almost 80% contained at least one harmful product while over half contained more than one. These products – everything from carcinogens to pesticides – have been linked to cancer, reproductive disorders and severe allergies.

I wonder why we do this to ourselves. And women in particular. Don’t get me wrong, I think the modern metrosexual man uses almost as many products as women do, but I think women still beat us men.

On a typical morning I get out of the shower and sneak a few extra minutes of sleep while my wife showers (I jump up from the bed just before she gets out!) and then we both change and leave for work. While I drive, my wife applies her make-up so by the time I drop her at the office she’s ready to face the day.

I think my wife is the most gorgeous creature in the world. I tell her this as often as I can. She always tells me (with a wry smile) that I’m the only one who thinks that and I always reply that my opinion is the only one that matters. I feel this way about her irrespective of whether she’s wearing make-up or not. Yet reading the article cited above got me wondering why women all over the world use make-up?

With some lipsticks containing lead, why on earth would women willingly apply the stuff to their face? Do they not think they are beautiful without?

I mulled it over during the day and by the time we finished supper, I had come up with a brilliant theory, one that involved dentists, mirrors and pyramid schemes.

There are some things, like death and taxes, which can be considered constants in life. One other constant is the pile of old magazines on the coffee table in the waiting room at the dentist. You know the Cosmo and the Glamour from 2004 – magazine readers have to wade through just to take away the whine of the dentist’s drill and the quiet whimpering of the poor sap in the chair.

Yes, the infamous “women’s magazines.” I recently read a story on the Vagenda blog that took a hard look at the type of material being published in a mainstream women’s magazine which is a . far cry from the material the magazine printed in the past. Now articles are mostly about tips for how a woman can ensure her husband or boyfriend is happy and what she can do in bed for him?

Aren’t we supposed to make ourselves happy? And since when has it been up to one person in a relationship to ensure the other has a good time in bed?

And to heap even more guilt onto the woman reading the magazine, most of it is dedicated to emaciated women modelling size six clothes. When did size six become the perfect size for women’s clothing? Every time my stepdaughter looks at herself in the mirror she looks like she’s going to burst into tears – and she’s a size eight!

So here’s my theory: being human, we all (well most of us) aspire to be better than we are. However, it seems we’re allowing ourselves to be convinced by some media that we need improving and we are actually in worse shape than we think we are.

The media is constantly telling us we look ugly – if only we would apply make-up we’d look and feel better (and clog up our pores while we’re at it).

Media also tells us we’re not thin enough (size ten is so last decade – looking like a modern day Twiggy is so hip right now), and our lips are too thin (use this lipstick and your lips will look like you injected a pint of fat from your butt directly into them).

The sad thing is that we buy into it. We are the suckers at the bottom of the huge pyramid scheme paying the people at the top to sell us the stuff that we’re using to slowly kill ourselves.

Vernon Naidoo is a Consultant Engineer based in South Africa. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.


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