The other day, as I was preparing for a big event, I realized that I had found religion.
I’ve never been a religious person, so this was a surprise to me. I consider myself a more “spiritual” than “religious” person, and am rather skeptical of organized religions, honestly. Some of them are cult-like, some of them have done shady things in their history, and some of them, quite frankly, are just bastards.
But I realized, as I was carefully applying make-up for the evening’s festivities, how very spiritually cleansing the world of cosmetics is.
Yes, cosmetics. Foundation, lipstick, facial masks, the works. Everything found in aisles 1 and 2B at your local Walgreens or on any shelf in Sephora stores (aka Mecca).
Before any important event (prom, weddings, big dates, etc.) women spend hours preparing. Not that we come out of it looking much different than we do everyday (after all, the goal is to look natural!). So, if we all know that we’ll look only incrementally better, why do we bother?
I’m telling you, it’s a spiritual cleansing. The zen-like focus of the methodical tasks from exfoliation to depilation to moisturizing, the careful blending and shading and smooth arc of lining . . . it’s like prayer. We are focused on something that removes us from the stress, and washes away the vestiges of the previous disappointing evenings. We are filled with hope that tonight will be special and perfect, and convinced that the more perfect we look the more good things will happen to us.
Now, please don’t misconstrue this. I’m not talking about vanity at all here. I’m talking about applying a small measure of control to a mad, mad world. Which is essentially what religion is, right? Believing in something that makes sense of everything to come? Performing rituals that bring one peace? Believing that if you perform these rituals, or wear these talismen, that only good will come to you?
Along those lines, worshippers at the Temple Sephora have a Holy Grail, as well: the hunt for the perfect red lipstick. No one has ever found it (to my knowledge), and even though we may have discovered good – or even great – ones . . . I think we are all eluded by the “perfect” red. The red that makes us look invincible and stays on perfectly without fading away or drying us out. But still, we are convinced that it must exist.
We don’t all view cosmetics like this, I’m sure. Some people haven’t found zen at the cosmetics counter. And, while some of us have, we still choose not to practice everyday. But it’s there. Stuffed in a bag. Patiently awaiting our next hour of need.
Weird, but oddly beautiful, no?