Sunday, 9 September 2012

Another Beauty Rant

I was chatting to my dad today about making my own soap (see above, my slightly squishy Lavender and Sandalwood Bathing soap) my allergy to regular shampoo and the chemical make up of beauty products. He was still surprised that pointing out to his female friends that he wouldn't use their products to clean his car, made them hate him. Poor man!

What he didn't realise is, is that 99% of the meaning of a beauty regime is a ritual, that forms part of a woman's daily confidence build up (including getting dressed, eating things we don't like but are healthy etc, etc). Most beauty products have a mystique of science and luxury that make a woman feel like they are spoiling themselves and value themselves (completely moronic, I know, but we are weak), or we are tackling our innate ugliness, because basically society has taught us to hate ourselves.

So, even if he thinks he is being completely helpful by pointing out things like this, he is actually just making women feel stupid about something that they quite enjoy/ are psychologically chained to and builds their fragile self-esteem. SO HE IS THE DEVIL!!!!

That's why one of the cleverest marketing ploys is now exploiting concerns about Parabens and Sodium Laureth Sulfate in products (love yourself, protect yourself against harmful stuff, blah, blah, blah), to make women pay even more money for what they could make in the kitchen at home in an Ikea saucepan (one of my most valuable soap-making items). YES YOU, LUSH, WHERE DO YOU GET OFF BEING SO BLOODY EXPENSIVE!!!

I was never really that interested in what was in beauty stuff before (beyond being concerned, but not actually certain what was tested on animals, and what is destroying the rainforest and I'm still confused about it), because I never had any negative results from what I was using. I didn't buy into the hype of anti-aging this and that and just bought what seemed to work and smelled good (and was relatively cheap). Now I seem to be getting spots and eczema (back in a hard water area, so have to use more product to get it frothy and then it doesn't rinse out so effectively), I am actually looking at what is in things. Now I really resent having to pay more money for stuff, just so I don't have a nasty reaction, just because it is 'natural', when the ingredients still are really cheap.

It's quite sad really, because if we ignored the hype and just looked around the garden, went on more country walks, even to our local parks, we would find loads of things that are great for our health and skin. We could create a more satisfying ritual to be part of (i.e. making it yourself, or getting a keen friend like me to make it from things you find), rather than just opening a pot of cream with some gold writing on it, or using a deliberately 'home-made' looking soap bar from a shop, that has a 500% mark up.

Women in the olden days were just as obsessed with beauty, but then we were more in tune with things that were naturally available, so it seems like that the ritualistic part of things, were not so imbecilic (e.g. enjoying packaging) but actually quite practical. Really, being able to buy beauty products, was all linked to status and wealth and women gradually got shamed into buying, instead of making (as well, as time constraints). A lady of leisure does not make her own soap! A weird man with lamb chop whiskers does it for you!

I saw an advert yesterday that talking about a product being so good that it had a 'spa-like' feel. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. What does that even mean? I had a spa treatment once, that involved an algae wrap that smelt like Hastings Fish Yard. Oh yeah, and a sparkly 'sulfate- free' shampoo ad that was particularly nauseating. What are they putting in a shampoo that makes your hair sparkly, that occurs naturally and benefits your hair? Fools Gold?

Friday, 4 May 2012

Neuro Stylistic Programming- Style your Mood

Dorothy Perkins- S/S 2011 I'm afraid!
I made this term up and it has no scientific basis, but since I have Neuro Stylistically Programmed myself into a self-loving, ego-maniacal state, I don't care.

'How's that?', you say with your eye-brow raised. It is because today I am wearing a coral coloured, full skirted white polka dot dress and therefore feel frivolous and charming and 'devil-may care' about everything.

A few years ago, I went on a training course called the 'Art of Being Brilliant,' where I was talked at about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) by a Grand-Wizard Practitioner. On that day I also made the decision not to sell training courses any more, due to moral outrage and too many stale sandwiches. What I took away from the course however, is that it is surprisingly easy to influence yourself, by some totemic phrases and self-obsessive mantra droning. I have consequently decided to use this technique in a manner more relevant to the fashion conscious, by incorporating it into the much more fun, theory of 'Neuro Stylistic Programming.(NSP)'  

That stale old theory, NLP, used by Paul McKenna and Derren Brown, is described by Wikipedia as  ''a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour." 

My brand new and stimulating theory of NSP ,is really just a statement of what intuitive people know already e.g. It's definitely a good idea to dress to what you would like your mood to be, not how you feel in the morning.

I also would like to make an unsupported claim that if you are wearing something colourful, people tend to notice it less when your every second word is demonstrating that your entire being is a cesspit of stinking negativity. Whereas, if you wear black you've had it, and people avoid you for sucking the soul out of the room.
For example, people tend to assume that Existentialists are profound in a heavy, intense sort of way. However, I guarantee you, that should people not associate black polo neck jumpers with Sartre and if he had instead worn Hawaiian shirts, they would have focused on the drinking, music, dancing and sex in his works of fiction, and realise that he was just a bon viveur in the style of Peter Stringfellow. It could be that Sartre was actually a fairly typical intellectual egoist having a mid-life crisis, who occasionally had guilt trips about his selfish life decisions, and tried to cover his self-disgust with existential smoke and mirrors and inky clothes. 
Not only can dressing to improve your mood and work to lift your own spirits but also makes others feel better too. Life can be a hive and if most of us are boring worker drones, a little bit of colour to settle our eyes on, is going to make us feel more positive and productive. It is also true that if you want to be taken seriously, then wearing black and grey shows brevity- however, adding colour to your ensemble may show personality that will distinguish you from the competition.

Anyone that ridicules a person's love of fashion, colour and sartorial matters, doesn't really understand the power of dressing as a mood influencer, to oneself and others. A form fitting suit, with shoulder pads and statement heels give architectural proportions, menacing and aggressive. You can easily con yourself that you know what you are talking about, when you feel like a skyscraper. Neutral colours and knits may give a feel of bland comfort, showing flexibility and openness- a tactile sort of brain, responsive but not threatening. The success of the makeover show, is not a demonstration of the shallowness of the general public but the strength of the psychological response to visual stimulation via dress. If it has been proven that people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, how simple to argue that we can be  positively influenced by colour, light and change in the way we dress, and should knowingly exploit this to our advantage.

This can also be subversively used to an advantage if you want to deliberately produce negative impressions. In my last job, I wanted to minimise the amount of work that I was given, so I wore navy blue often (unflattering, made me look tired and sickly), mid-thigh dresses (made me look youthful and irresponsible) and a pair of brothel creeper shoes (confuses your regular office worker, as they cannot work out why you would consider them attractive and therefore are dissimulating). No-one would entrust me with their boring typing on those days, it worked a treat. Go on, Neuro Stylistically Programme yourself, or someone else!