This is a favorite quote about Joy from the writer (political activist, public speaker, teacher) Anne Lamott. And it’s true, most people respond better to you when you look happy. This doesn’t quite mean that smiling makes you look better (sometimes it makes you look nervous). On the other hand, studies have shown that Smiling can influence your emotions and actually make you happier, so it may be worth a shot. I have always felt that as long as I’m a fat person (someday, maybe…) I might as well present myself as a jolly fat person rather than a grumpy fat person, and that seems to have served me well.
I also feel that if you are going to wear make up, you should be conscious in how your using it. If it’s something you’re doing to make more money, honour that! Some women call the make-up they wear too go to the office “war paint”; others use the term for the dating makeup. It’s there to make them visible, or invisible, to fit in, or stand out. Like “shape shifting” it’s consciously deciding what face and identity you are sharing with the world. There’s the “game face”, the face that you’re ready to participate totally. (Or, I like to think of the way fans paint up their faces to support their sports teams. This sublimates their entire identity in with the other fans of their team.
That image reminds me of the faces made by the Maori when they do their haka. The energies they raise come from the sound, the movements, and their facial expressions. Everything contributes to the ritual. There could be whole books on the importance of the face tattoos of the Maori culture, or how facial decoration helps define culture and how the physical interacts with the spiritual and emotional planes (indeed, we’d love to have someone do a workshop on it!).
I recently read a wonderful article by a young New Zealand woman who has gotten the traditional chin tattoo of her people (moko kauae), and how it has changed her life. In many ways the cosmetics we use every day are also intended to show a cultural solidarity with those around us.
Many women just FEEL better when they’ve added a bit of color to their faces. Yes, most modern cosmetics are intended to make you look younger and healthier (thus, more powerful). But we can also have fun with it. I, myself, am partial to glittery fingernail polish and temporary tattoos! (A lovely thing about being so old that no amount of makeup is going to make you look 30 again, is that it goes back to simply being decoration for fun!) So put on your happy face, or your team face, or your panda face, whatever works for you right now! If no makeup at all is good for you, that’s great! If a bit of sweat and some soil from your garden is you’re preferred application, go for it! The energy the image creates is the point, isn’t it?