The Joys of Makeup and Other Uplifting Stories

woman with orange manicure

Photo by Oleg Magni on

I say I don’t read the news, but that’s actually not true. My homepage is an RSS feed on Yahoo! and I pay for subscriptions to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. When I say, I don’t read the news, I mean: I don’t follow what’s going on with Trump, I don’t watch TV news, and I try to read GOOD and inspiring news stories. The media generally does a good job of distorting our realities by showcasing the worst of humanity, but I like to distort my own reality by zeroing in on the best. So every now and again, I’d like to share some of the best stories I’ve seen on the web. The theme of this roundup is: makeup!

The Joys of Makeup

It seems like personal finance gospel that makeup is a waste of money and possibly anti-woman. Generally, I think the point of personal finance is never to denigrate another person’s choices so long as others aren’t hurt, the choices are conscious and the choices don’t interfere with ultimate money goals.

I unabashedly love makeup. It’s well-known that color can change your mood. An easy way to cheer up is to see red, like the red in a lipstick. As an artistic person, I’ve always been interested in paint, and makeup is an extension of that. It’s about drawing the light to certain areas and creating shadows elsewhere. Its contemplating symmetry, the Golden ratio and our preconceived notion beauty. It’s about optimism: a belief in change and the ability to change how others perceive us, becoming a new person with a swipe of color. And most of all, it’s just fun.

Wear makeup- don’t wear makeup. I don’t care. But I’m a champion of makeup and I’d like to highlight some stories of makeup changing the world for the better:

The first story comes from Rob Bell’s, book Sex God (it’s about the connection between sexuality and spirituality so it’s ironically, the least raunchy book you’re apt to read this year). I know I said this was about makeup but the first part is very sad, so power through and keep reading. [WARNING: the following is a graphic description of a Holocaust concentration camp]:

In 1945, a group of British soldiers liberated a German concentration camp called Bergen-Belsen. One of them, Lieutenant Colonel Mercin Willet Gonin, DSO wrote in his diary about what they encountered:

I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men and myself were to spend the next month of our lives. It was just a barren wilderness, as bare as a chicken run. Corpses lay everywhere, some in huge piles, sometimes they lay singly or in pairs where they had fallen. It took a little time to get used to seeing men, women and children collapse as you walked by them . . .

One knew that five hundred a day were dying and that five hundred a day were going on dying for weeks before anything we could do would have the slightest effect. It was, however, not easy to watch a child choking to death from diphtheria when you knew a tracheotomy and nursing would save it. One saw women drowning in their own vomit because they were too weak to turn over, men eating worms as they clutched a half loaf of bread purely because they had to eat worms to live and now could scarcely tell the difference.

Piles of corpses, naked and obscene, with a woman too weak to stand propping herself against them as she cooked the food we had given her over an open fire; men and women crouching down just anywhere in the open relieving themselves. .. [a] dysentery tank in which the remains of a child floated.

Bell uses this description to show the inhumane conditions that were thrust upon the concentration camp victims. This was after the Nazis had left after all, so they weren’t still terrorizing these people. Yet the conditions remained un-human. It wasn’t that the actions the people performed themselves were un-human. There was nothing wrong with relieving yourself anywhere, eating worms, or piling up corpses – because those were necessities of their circumstances.

If you were going to pinpoint the exact part that was un-human, it was the lack of care. They couldn’t care about anything because they were so starved – not just of food, but of respect, esteem and individuality. People will cry “don’t care what other people think” but humans are social animals. And when you really stop caring what anyone else thinks of you, perhaps because people treated you like you were nothing to care about, you lose yourself.

It’s like Karamo Brown says on Queer Eye: “You try to act like you don’t care about how your house looks, how you look or the fact that people are no longer in your life. And I’m not buying it.” It’s human to care. When we don’t care about what others think, about how we are perceived, about taking care of ourselves, something wrong has happened.

Later in the diary, another anecdote:

It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick.

I wish so much that I could discover who did it. It was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance.

I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the postmortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At least someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

Funny how lipstick saves the day, eh?
Here’s another story about the power of lipstick. And one about nail polish. How Rihanna is harnessing her beauty company for good.

Other Positive Stories from the Week

The Orioles are Wearing Braille Jerseys

Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick celebrate 30 years of marriage and don’t give a single piece of advice on how to stay married.

A wife writes about one small thing her husband does that makes her feel loved. What’s more beautiful than his act, is that she notices and appreciates it.

Our dose of hilarious Buzzfeed.

Cool diaries.

Good habits to try:

How to Break Up with Your Phone in 7 Days. (I am trying this. It’s been such a wonderful calm added to my life to leave my phone at home!)
Sober September. I don’t know why “quit drinking” isn’t at the top of more frugal tips. Alcohol is not good for you and it’s quite expensive. After dating an alcoholic, I’m much more aware of how difficult it can be to stay sober in a Happy Hour-friendly town. So on top of all the above positives, you’re creating a better environment for people who can’t or shouldn’t drink.
What good stories have you read this week?



3 thoughts on “The Joys of Makeup and Other Uplifting Stories

  1. I am also pro makeup. I don’t wear a lot of it but do put on the essentials almost every day and it does make me feel more confident when stepping out the door. And yes, it’s amazing what a mood booster a bright shade of lipstick can be!

  2. It’s funny how make up and fashion is always viewed as something superficial when the main purpose is actually to give women a boost of confidence and to have another outlet for self expression. I love how you’ve chosen to put light on this side of make up 🙂

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