Putting on a good face

By Chloe Lister

First, apply your foundation to the center of your face and blend outward toward your hairline. Top that with a pressed powder applied in a rolling motion across your cheeks, forehead and skin to make sure your foundation sticks. Next come the eyes. Apply a beige tone from your lash to crease, blending as you get closer to the brow line. Then, line your upper and lower lash lines with black liquid eyeliner, followed by green liquid eyeliner, smudged slightly, and only on your lower lash line. Finish off your eyes with two coats of black mascara on your top eyelashes only. Finally, complete your look with a light pink lip gloss.

Those are the steps given by Covergirl, a popular cosmetics brand, to achieve a “subtle yet intriguing look” that is a “must-have for fall.”

School Psychologist Sheila Siegel said a desire to be more grown up factors in to why younger adolescents begin wearing makeup.

“My granddaughter will stand on a stool while I’m getting dressed and she’ll brush some makeup on,” Siegel said. “From the time you’re really little, [wearing makeup] is what it means to be a big girl.”

Siegel also said that part of the reason women in general wear makeup is that from a very young age they are “bombarded” with images of what the “ideal” woman should look like.

“There’s this very plastic-y look that is the media’s standard, and that’s impossible to reach,” she said. “It’s very subtle, but I think that there is a clear pressure that says, ‘This is how you should be.’”

In a study published Oct. 3, Nancy Etcoff, Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard University and Associate Researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, confirmed that makeup significantly impacts how women are judged, not only in attractiveness but also in character.

In the study, participants were shown images of 25 women, each four different times. The first was an image of the woman without makeup, and the subsequent three had increasingly dramatic levels of makeup. The images were viewed for 250 milliseconds each, and all three images of the women without makeup increased ratings of “attractiveness, competence, likability and trust,” according to the study.

When members of a second study were given unlimited time to view each image, women wearing the most makeup were judged to be “equally likeable, less trustworthy and significantly more attractive than the faces without makeup.”

“Researchers have studied first impressions of innate facial characteristics, such as facial symmetry, but until now, no research has rigorously examined the role that applied beauty or features of the extended human phenotype, such as makeup and hair color, play in perception of beauty, personality and character at first glance and longer inspection,” Etcoff said in an interview with P&G Beauty & Grooming.

Experimenting with makeup is common among teenagers as a way to reflect the person they are, Siegel said.

“As an adolescent, you ‘try on’ different ways of being, and that’s part of figuring out who you are and deciding who you are,” Siegel said. “So trying on different faces can be part of that.”

Olivia Schiavelli ’12 began wearing makeup in sixth grade.

“I wore Claire’s eye shadow because that’s what all the ‘cool girls’ were doing,” Schiavelli said. “My mom didn’t want me to wear it so I’d hide it in my locker and put it on when I got to school and rub it off before I got picked up.”

Schiavelli said that at first she used much more than she now feels she needs.

“I was using [makeup] more to change my face, but now I use it more to just help it,” Schiavelli said.

However, Schiavelli does not believe that the amount of makeup she wears affects how people perceive her.

“I wear makeup more to feel better about myself than to have other people like me. Except, in seventh grade people definitely could have been like, ‘Wow, she wears a lot of make up. Overkill.’”

Amanda Allen ’12 also started wearing makeup when she was in middle school, but she began by wearing minimal amounts.

“My mom taught me how to do makeup for a dance show and then I liked how it looked and started wearing some eyeliner or eye shadow to school,” Allen said. “I only wore a little, though, because I didn’t want people to know I was wearing makeup.”

Allen said that around ninth grade, she began experimenting with a greater variety of makeup.

“I went through a phase where I liked wearing lots of makeup with bright colors or sparkles because I thought it made me look cool,” Allen said.

Now she wears less and makes sure she looks natural she said.

Michelle Chang ’13 almost never wears makeup, mostly because she doesn’t have enough time when she’s getting ready in the morning, Chang said.

However, she said makeup makes her feel prettier, and usually her friends are surprised to see her wearing any. She only wears makeup on special occasions, and even then she will only wear eye makeup and blush.

“I just don’t think that for me [wearing makeup all the time] is necessary right now,” Chang said. “It just depends on the person whether or not they want to use it.” 

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