I Make-up is a true manifestation of “shared

 I come from a long line of vain women.My grandmother, just last week, went to have permanent eyeliner tattooed to her eyelids. The woman is 67 years old. Somewhere in her late 80’s and a few months after my great grandmother moved into an old aged home, she phoned my mom in desperation, asking her to please buy some sex in a bottle. My mom, horrified replied that she didn’t think it came in bottled form… to which my ever witty great grandmother retorted, don’t be an idiot, it’s the latest Essie Nail polish.Vanity – It seemed a natural hereditary condition with which I too would be diagnosed and mine came in the form of a passion for make-up. I love make up. I love its ability to transform the plain into something spectacular, the mundane into something intriguing, the self-conscious into self-confident. It is an art form which succeeds in sustaining abillion dollar industry. Make-up is a true manifestation of “shared value”, a concept coined by Michael Porter, of Harvard Business School – sadly no relation, though I’ll happily claim him. A famous economist who defined shared value as generating economic value in a way that also produces value for society. And yet there is a duality about make-up as it preys on the vanity of its users.The book of Ecclesiastes, or in Hebrew, Kohelet, contains some of the finest prose in the bible. Its verses have found their way into the English language: “There is a time for all things”, “the race is not to the swift” and most famously, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”. Kohelet is one of the first biblical scriptures which discusses Vanity and its inherent contradiction.When I was younger, vanity was encapsulated in the depiction of Snow White’s evil step mother, gazing into her “mirror, mirror on the wall” hoping to be declared the fairest of them all. It was always feminine. It was always about beauty. And that beauty seemed to hold the secret to the attainment of life’s outcomes. In simple terms, life was easier for good looking people. And so the obsession with one’s appearance was a tool to achieve success and reverence – a veritable tool.Not much has changed – according to research there is extensive evidence to suggest that physical attractiveness can influence the decisions we make about life partners, friends, preferred work colleagues and employee recruitment and promotion. Dr. Gordon Patzer, who has concluded over 30 years of research on physical appearances, found that human beings naturally respond more favourably to attractive people. He says, “good looking men and women are generally regarded to be more talented, kind, honest and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts.”In fact, attractive applicants are not only considered more hireable but also more likeable and this advantage persists even when reviewers are provided with other objective,relevant information and independent measurable criteria. Call it the beauty bias. Call it discrimination. Call it manipulation or unfair. It is a reality which exists. And while the law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, disability and age, it is fascinating that there is no legislation regarding physical attractiveness bias.Whether we like it or not, in Western culture, which is highly influenced by media and advertising, beauty matters – pervasively. And so, in a world where life is easier for good looking people, make-up levels the playing field. Make-up gives all the opportunity to be beautiful. It is the fairy godmother which turns mice into horses, servants into princesses and nothing into everything. It has a transformative power which through the seemingly simple act of glamorizing a face, is able to fill a human being with confidence, self-worth and personal appreciation. Qualities which in turn, make one more approachable, likeable and ironically, authentic. This is the shared value about which Michael Porter writes, the creation of an environment where everyone wins; the supplier, the user, society as a whole. Data shows, that people who use make-up do so because they are concerned about their appearance. As such, they exercise more, eat better, aremore confident, healthier and emotionally stable. If make up can do all that, then go for it, Bobbi Brown!Perhaps this is the point in Kohelet; That Vanity for vanity’s sake is just futile. But vanity for good purpose and with intended meaningful outcome is a powerful tool to achieve social and economic value.On the eve of her death, my vain great grandmother, the onementioned earlier, exited the shower and asked the designated care giver for her leopard print nightie. A strappy satin piece of lingerie made for women a quarter of her age. She adorned herself with Issy Miaki perfume and once in bed brushed her lipstick neatly across her frail lips. The nurse couldn’t help herself and asked the old woman why she was so dressed up to go to bed… in her inimitable way, my great grandmother responded, “darling, you never know who you may meet at night, but when you do, make sure they know you’re a force to be reckoned with”! 10 minutes late she passed away. She was over 90 when she died and I remain convinced that the secret to her longevity was her deep rooted vanity – I wish G-d the very best of luck!

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