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Beauty succour


''My most satisfying work is when I go into care homes and hospitals,'' says mobile manicurist Georgie ''Slinky Pinkie'' Cooper. ''Spending time with women undergoing chemo, making their nails look beautiful when they are feeling and looking their worst, is very special. They feel better when they've had their nails done - they tell me that and I can see it.'' Can lipstick help your mouth smile? Can a set of eyelash curlers act as an over-the-counter Prozac? Might there be some worth to the superficial?

Beauty products are not worthy. They are, by and large, superfluous: apart from soap and water, what is it we actually need? Shampoo and moisturiser are dispensable when you think about it. But there's got to be a reason Australians spend more than $4 billion a year on cosmetics, perfume and toiletries a year. Could it possibly because it makes us feel good?

You've lost your job, your lover, your cheeriness for some reason. You want a pick-me-up. You've got a cool $20 spare (the redundancy package isn't through yet). Take your pick: bottle of wine, session at the pokies or a red lipstick. Which is non-addictive? Which is going to provide the longer-lasting joy? When you look good - or you think you look good - you feel good. It's that simple and it's that easily achievable.

When you buy makeup and skincare you're not doing it to be worthy, are you? Own up to it: you're doing it because you want them. What's wrong with that? 

When you buy makeup and skincare you're not doing it to be worthy, are you? Own up to it: you're doing it because you want them. What's wrong with that? What's wrong with a bit of fun and pampering? You may make a political statement in your choice of product - say, non-animal tested or organic. But it's a very little political statement. During breast cancer season you may choose a pink-beribboned tube to ''do something to help'' (though you may just want to check how much is actually donated to cancer causes from these products). But women with cancer often find real comfort in the product themselves. Using makeup makes them feel a bit better about themselves at a time when their worlds can seem to be falling apart. Lucika Mora of Hale'O'Nails and Beauty in Melbourne's Armadale says her regular weekly clients include elderly women who live alone. ''Their spirits are lifted by having facials or manicures.''

Self-medicating by buying beauty stuff - it doesn't matter whether it's a bottle of instant tan or a luxury embossed compact - has its merits. Maybe there is something just a little deep in the overtly superficial. Time to lose the hair shirt and embrace the frivolous for all its worth. What do you think? What's your experience?

2 comments so far

  • A few years ago my Mum went through breast cancer-there was a support group we signed her up to that did a free day spa session, cosmetic companies donated their products and the ladies all came out with a range of items matched to their skin & preferences to use as a pick-me-up during chemo, Mum had a great day out, made freinds and got some advise on looking her best when seriously ill.
    She also realised that a coat of lippy won't change her situation but it did represent normality and could make a hard time just that little bit easier to cope with.
    I wish I could remember the nae of the organisation-I believe they where run through Myer.

    Messy Diner
    All over the table
    Date and time
    July 24, 2012, 1:08PM
    • I was a very plain child so being pretty was, for me at the time, synonymous with being happy. I became a beauty therapist to help other women feel pretty and therefore, in my mind, happy. I don't work in beauty any more but understand how feeling great about yourself can lift your spirits. There's definitely a side to "beauty" that is not at all superficial.

      Date and time
      August 13, 2012, 9:18PM

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