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COSMETIC: 1605, from Gk. kosmetikos “skilled in adornment,” from kosmein “to arrange, adorn,” from kosmos “order” (see cosmos).

January 8, 2009

The language of cosmetics has been on my mind for a few days.  In honor of the new year, I spent last Wednesday morning in a salon chair, having my hair shorn and dyed for the first time since summer.  I have often thought of women as having the burden of cosmetic adornment: a symbol of patriarchy, of our objectification by men.  It wasn’t until I was in college that a man gave me an alternate view of the role of cosmetics in sexual differentiation.  He said to me simply, that I was lucky to have makeup– lucky to be able to perfect myself, to conceal my blemishes, physically, rather than have to show them to the world.  I countered that the single-sexed role of cosmetics in modern Western Civilizaton was just a symptom of the different standards of physical beauty for women and men.  Women are supposed to be physically perfect.  It is less acceptable for women to have physical discrepancies. . .

In thinking about this question, I stumbled on a blog article from the historico-feminist perspective on the subject: “The Philosophy Cosmetic” by A Chapel of Our Mother God

. . . Since my thoughts are scattered on the subject right now, I’ll let you all ruminate on the direction its taking, and get back to you with my future thoughts.

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