Mini pre-manifesto

I stuck all this stuff up on MUA (some time ago), and tweaked it gently along the way, in case it might help me out if I start to smell in the middle of the day and wonder what I forgot to do in the morning. May be useful for others with similar skin, hair, etc. So any product recommendations come with lots of caveats. Also, on make-up, I’m a not-too-unnatural / YBB gal, being a redhead (and too aged to carry off anything heavier without looking like the decomposing corpse of a hag). And of classical/catholic tastes. Aiming for Style rather than Fashion. A.k.a. budget insufficient to accommodate mistakes and/or fads.

And now, for the fuller manifesto proper.

Being a simple soul, I tend to favour more “natural” products, with ingredients that sound familiar to me and that I have seen on a real live bush / like to sniff at / would eat. (But that’s bit entirely accurate: I’ll happily use all manner of things–viz, mineral oil–that others might deem “unnatural”; blame the inclusion of basic science in my school curriculum, and being one of the nerdy kids who was awake in class…)

I have been a Bambiphile since 1976. When I saw Bambi and went vegetarian for the first of several times. I have not been a vegetarian consistently since then (“to err is human”, etc.), but have been one for the last longish while. Aiming towards vegetarianism in non-food aspects of life too. Though not vegan, so still prone to things like beeswax. Product choices voluntarily limited to those that aren’t tested on animals, although there will be the odd review for something produced by someone whose testing practices I don’t know (this will usually be indicated). PETA is quite good at providing information on cruelty-free products, if you’re interested… though it’s sometimes out of date, and worth checking with individual companies.

Be sure to ask a company/brand about their attitude to CUT-OFF DATES in testing, not just whether they currently test new products and ingredients. Ask along the lines of a polite and complimentary “I love your [name favourite thing you can’t live without] and have used it for [very large number] years, but just want to check…” Many companies are in process of changing their policies, so it is always worth checking; especially in view of changing EU legislation. Ex. Boots, who used to be one of the worst offenders and are progressively cleaning up their act; starting with the most “cosmetic” products. Prescriptive drugs are a whole other kettle of fish, as are the cosmetics of disguise. A quite separate ethical issue from the cosmetics of decoration, deceit, and other vanity. A parallel: the cosmetic surgery of nips & tucks & boob jobs vs. plastic surgery for acid-in-face victims vs. reconstructive surgery to save lives.

Yes, I must and do admit that I’m vain and spend a silly amount of time, effort, and brain-power on silly, unnecessary, frivolous things. Such as vanity. And that’s why I’m on MUA. But that seems to me no reason for living sentient creatures with central nervous systems and pain-receivers to suffer for my vanity: not least as this is unconsenting, from subjects incapable of consent, not competent as concerns comprehension. Even if an animal did understand that this was, say, “something that would make a human I love happy” – as an individual-to-individual choice and/or contract – there’s plenty human-based law to declare such compacts illegal and immoral (e.g.: the famous German consenting adult cannibalism case).

I’d prefer to use and buy products from companies that have better track-records (and, indeed, divulge information) on ingredient production and sourcing, sustainability, environmental responsibility, labour and other human rights, fair trade and development pro-activity; and that invest in “greener” labs, production facilities, and non-animal but sensitive-human-friendly testing.

Preference also for people-friendly and in vaguely environmentally-friendly packaging – minimal cardboard, and containers that can be reused and/or recycled. Pathetic attempts at ethical consumption may be a pain in the posterior, but at least they encourage quality over quantity, and minimalism and multi-tasking.

I’m also starting to think a bit more seriously about larger ethical questions to do with skin care and cosmetics: what’s necessary for “care” and comfort, acceptable limits of vanity, and how much one should spend (rather than spending less for something similar, and giving the surplus to charity). And the whole wrinkle issue and beauty industry myths. I feel that as a good feminist I shouldn’t care about wrinkles, or indeed should go further, and embrace them. I’ve never spent lots of money on eye care stuff, and have always found the idea of that amount of spending unconscionable. But I’m sure it would be very different if I had more wrinkles, or worked in a world where that mattered.

Then there’s the mascara issue. If eyes are mirrors to the soul, there’s something interesting – to say the least – about doing anything to change eyes’ appearance: my usual (flippant and facetious) counter-argument here is that, like a woman trapped in a man’s body or a man in a woman’s, I’m doing something similar but smaller-scale in doctoring my appearance to fit my perception of my “true” self, and differentiating between ascribed characteristics and identity as a social construct, that can then be subject to individual will. In this case, most evidently as my eyelashes are naturally blonde/pale red, but “truly” black. This may also be paying lip-service to societal norms of what people should look like – but I’ve also never tanned (even when it was fashionable), don’t wear “summer” colours in season (indeed, own no pastel or white clothes), wear little black dresses when legs are whitest, etc. So I think I think there’s room for art and pleasure – including one’s own pleasure – in personal appearance, regardless of trying to attract one lot of people, impress another lot, or just fit in with and be acceptable to a third.

My feeble attempt at compromise: either finding a dupe for something I’m lusting after, and giving the balance saved to charity; or, if I feel I absolutely have to give in to temptation, I pay penance by giving the same amount of money that I just spent to charity. So lots of guilt and repentance, the Notepad and reviews as confessional, expiation of sins, promises to reform and not to commit them again – then the cycle starts again.

Here’s some more nice chocolate now that’s over…

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