Some studies claim that women eat (ingest) 7 pounds of lipstick in a lifetime, but that is assuming they wear lipstick every day, all day long, between the ages of 10 and 86…. (???!!!)

I rarely read the papers, just as I do not watch TV either, but today I picked up a newspaper my husband had bought. There was one small article that made me decide to write this blog: this article claims that ‘Women not wearing any make up is OK if they ‘can’t be bothered’… however, it is “not OK” if they do it because they feel superior, as in ‘I don’t need to wear make up to feel good, I feel sorry for those poor creatures who cannot leave the house before lathering on the war paints’ “.

Right! Personally I am in the “can’t be bothered category”. I mean…. I paint on canvas, not on my own face!!

Having said that, I find this a rather extraordinary reversal of everything I have read before: the ubiquitous advertising pushing women to buy expensive make up, the assumption all women wear make up, the assumption that wearing make up is ‘an essential part of looking after yourself’ (is it?! Speaking for myself I feel observing a set of spiritual practices is the quickest road to self care… but hey, that is just  me!)

Many moons ago I used to have a wonderful classics teacher who wore many layers of make up. She must have been in her 50s at the time and from a certain distance she looked like a teenage girl (like myself). Close up there were many deep grooves in her face and I spent many wonderful lessons in ancient Greek wondering if the make up was hiding the grooves or if the make up had CREATED THE GROOVES. There was a sense of her skin not being able to breathe, as it was always covered in layers of grease.

Maybe this was a formative event, I don’t know…. I didn’t own a lipstick until I was 25 years old. However, having felt distinctly ‘inferior’ for years, because of not bothering with “war paint”, I find it quite a shock to realise I might possibly, unexpectedly, stand accused of acting or feeling ‘superior’….

At least when I smile, it’s not from ‘behind a painted smile’! (And I am not at risk of eating 7 pounds of lipstick in my lifetime!!)

(The painting above was made by my middle son Elliott, aged 11, last year)

Imelda Almqvist