March 24, 2009

Makeup to go

Having lived abroad for quite a while now, I can vouch for the fact that personal appearances do make a big part of the whole first impression deal. I mean, you could be smart and everything on the inside and stuff, but you've got to be presentable on the outside. In India, this just meant that you didn't look haggard... your hair was in place.. your clothes neat... you didn't have spinach on your teeth and you were just about set. But in the US and France it's a whole level upward. In the US, I observed how almost all the women carried a huge backpack/handbag which had their workday essentials and a tiny teensy purse/tote that consisted of their makeup. I found it extremely odd that they couldn't bother to put the small one into the big one and just carry one thing at a time... but would rather choose to carry this dainty tote alongside a massive one. And this seemed 'unfair' when I used to dress in the dark for my 7:30 am ECSS shifts in UC by not turning the lights on hoping not disturb my sleeping roommates. Indeed I think I've gone days without bothering about my reflection. After I became a "working woman", I started caring a bit more... but just enough to look put-together.

Here in France, women carry just one huge handbag which presumably has everything in it. But here's the twist. Many many of them wear their makeup in public. On trains... in buses, no matter where... no sooner than they find a reflecting surface (or have a place to sit to hold up their compact), they go at it. And not just something simple like powder/compact/blush, but even the hard stuff like mascara and eye liner. France is a country of mascara. If you wanna blend right in, coat your lashes with oodles of the stuff but tastefully and you're set. And practically no one looks unkempt. I think what's striking is that these people who wear their makeup on the go have absolutely no qualms in peering at themselves from various angles to check their makeup, fully aware of the fact that gazillions around them are just staring at them for the lack of anything better to do (especially when the train goes underground and there's nothing to see on the outside). Not that this deters them in the least. I suppose they'd rather show up to the people they know, all well-madeup than bother about the strangers on the journey who aren't going to remember them anyways. In some weird way, it all makes sense. Each one to herself.

8 comments:

Monsal Varga said...

You are a very observing person :)

It's almost the same all over Europe. Maybe outside this continent people think we're all stiff and full of protocol, but in fact (and I'm a bit travelled too) here people are fairly free to be what they are.

Please do not consider this as a diminishing tirade against others; it's just that you can see there are social protocols and accepted and unaccepted behaviours, of course, but there's another good example: women breastfeed their babies in public places (with some discretion, not talking about flashers here, hehehehe) and there are lots of other small things you will see everywhere.

As to the makeup, you'll see that specially in France and Spain (not forgetting we're talking about major cities, where habits tend to be more "light").

Jaya said...

Monsal -> I have no issues with people wearing their makeup wherever or whenever. However, it's not about protocol at all. It's just that in the US, women tend to carry all their stuff and probably make themselves up in restrooms or in the privacy of their cubes/cubicles, etc. As for breastfeeding and stuff... people become surprisingly carefree when it comes to their child. Feeding the child is a huge priority and cannot wait for lot of privacy and all. Similarly, so many people go out on a limb to entertain their little ones by making faces and noises to amuse them. All of this falls outside the 'people are watching' zone. This post was just with respect to the observations I made across continents.
Thanks for the comment and needless to say, keep visiting n commenting.

rajni said...

U.S is catching up to le France, bc i see women putting on their makeup in the trains in DC. Its actually funny observing them :) good entertainment in the morning!

Jaya said...

Rajni -> I know :)

The Muse ... said...

We dont get to see that much on the west coast here as we poor miserable folk still have to drive every day - Oh how I hate it - Grrrrrr!

Jaya said...

The Muse -> Lol. Your own car.. what can get better than driving? (The traffic can get the better of you, of course!)

Sandy said...

I don't think driving stops the woman from all the beautifying.Here in the U.S, I've seen women at traffic lights busy putting on their makeup without even noticing the green signal until the cars behind remind honk away. Maybe they should have banned this before they did talking on cell phones without a handsfree.

Jaya said...

Sandy -> Good point! And that's one of the reasons the older cars did not have a mirror on the driver-side sunshade. However, people still use their compacts and stuff to get their way and when you are in a long traffic cue, it's very frustrating when someone's beautifying and holding up the traffic. They might consider imposing newer rules.

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