Women's Use of Cosmetics and Clothing to Beautify Themselves throughout History

Women's Use of Cosmetics and Clothing to Beautify Themselves throughout History

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From an early age people are able to recognize themselves in the mirror, contemplating not only how they think they look but also how they may look to others. Through reflection, a man can recognize his flaws and begin manipulating certain factors of his exterior, shaping how his environment will see him. Cosmetics and clothing can serve as a mask to create both an illusion of beauty which may not be there, and to portray a status or rank which a person may not necessarily have. I will be taking an analytical approach to the topic of how cosmetics and clothes loan their beauty to their wearer, creating in some cases a deceitful or ornamental mask. I will be focusing on how women throughout history have used cosmetics and clothing, and how these differ in their intent of beautifying the woman.

Chapter one questions the use of makeup to create a youthful mask by looking at different uses of cosmetics and the reactions towards it from the 14 century and onwards. I will be looking into how face painting can portray natural beauty and how in some cases excessive painting exceeds the intent of masking ugliness and becomes instead a form of adornment.

Chapter two deals with the functions of clothing and how they may serve as an ornamental mask. I will be looking into the importance and meaning of clothing in the 14th century, 18th century, and in the postmodern society to identify how and why people were dressed the way they were, whether it was mainly for functionality or for adornment purposes.

Replacing Reality
Beauty as well as image plays an important role in physical attraction. Although there will always be disagreements on what constitutes beauty and what is considered attractive, youthfulness seems...

... middle of paper ...

...did then, as now replication has enabled any common man to appear the rank he desires. Baudrillard argues that clothing have no signification or value anymore whatsoever, which may be due to the impact that postmodern culture had on clothing by allowing it more freedom. Because of the mass production of garments which replicate ones of more value, fashion can no longer be used to distinguish class systems, as there is hardly a line between what the rich and poor can wear. In terms of semiotics, it is argued that clothing will always represent certain qualities and personality-traits. Mankind will nowadays dress accordingly as they realize the impact their looks can have on their lives. Considering this, clothing can be seen to create an ornamental mask, which a man or woman can hide behind while the rest of the world perceives the personae which their mask displays.

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