Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

Profits Of Beauty

On the rare occasions I find myself in a cosmetics department (usually following my wife around) I amuse myself by checking out the myriad ingredients listed on pots of anti-wrinkle creams, anti-aging creams and all those products designed to give the over 50s the face of a teenager. The first ingredient listed on most products and thus the one that makes up the largest proportion is water. It’s rarely described as water but often referred to as Aqua or Aqueous Solution as if giving plain old tap water a fancy name imbues it with magical powers. Next on the list will be a one or more of a whole range of fats and oils, but again described using terms aimed at making them sound exotic. For example there is Ricinus Communis Oil, that’s Castor Oil the stuff mums used to give to their kids to help keep their bowels open. How about Cera Alba, better known as bees wax, yes the stuff you use to polish furniture. There are a whole host oils and greases both natural and derived from crude oil, each dressed up in a fancy name. All these oils cost next to nothing to produce, but put them in a fancy bottle and the price rockets.

The cosmetics industry is also good at creating new substances with pseudo-scientif names designed to sound enticing or special in some way. Boswelox is an extract of the plant Boswellia serrata which has been used for many years to treat arthritis, it’s more commonly known as frankincense. Of course the aim of calling Boswelox is to make people think it’s something it is not, namely Botox. Pentapeptide is another term often used by one particular cosmetics manufacturer. Penta means five, and a peptide is a chain of amino acids (The flavour enhancer found in Chinese food monosodium glutamate is an amino acid) so a Pentapeptide is just a chain of five amino acids, not as enticing a name.

The cosmetics industry is able to make many of its claims about the efficacious effect of its products because our advertising rules are quite relaxed. Under the rules any product that contains a sun screen can say it’s Anti-aging no matter how fancy the language used to describe its contents. All the time women, and increasingly men, are taken in by an industry that is not much better than the old snake oil salesmen of the Wild West we will continue to see the fantasy that is the world of cosmetics.

Fashionable, Not Us Brits

In the paper today is a photo of a woman wearing the latest fashion in excessively high heels. If a child were to be born with feet shaped like her distorted appendages we would expect an orthopaedic surgeon to whip out their scalpel and immediately correct the deformity to ensure the child would have normal mobility. The attitude that the human body can be improved by being distorted into the most unnatural shapes by dieting or clothing has become an obsession for many women and a growing number of men.

This obsession is compounded by the way the media continually ridicules individuals for their choice of clothes and dress styles. Frankie Burnham the wife of the Culturet Secretary Andy Burnham’s was criticised by many reporters for her dress sense at the unveiling of the statue of the Queen Mother. Attendees at the Academy Awards were all picked over with the supposedly best and worst paraded across the centre pages in some sort of mock trial. This all serves to reinforce the culture of fashion and all the problems and neurosis that accompanies something that is false and shallow.

Fashion only serves to enrich wallets of the designers, the glossy magazines and the fashion commentators while impoverishing the lives of those who try to keep up with its fickle choices over what ever is the current vogue. There are individuals who have become dysfunctional because they must have the latest hand bag or shoes; not to use or wear, but just to be able to say they own this expensive and fleetingly desirable item. Young children are sexualised
by designers and clothes retailers, those who cannot afford the latest style of trainer for their children feel inadequate and people start making choices over who to associate with by the clothes they wear not their character.

What I find confusing is how this obsession does not seen to translate into daily life. The people you see buying all this high fashion all seem to be kitted out in jumble sale rejects. Compare the sartorial elegance of a high street in Britain with that on the continent and the difference is all to apparent. For all their efforts, the fashion brigade has apparently been unsuccessful at getting most of the public to join their scam, we remain totality inept.