Great news! Women can now do it all–have families, pursue careers, build social lives–except, that is, look bad while doing any of it. Meant to streamline one’s beauty process, semipermanent make-up technology refers to a variety of cosmetic procedures, typically involving tattooing, for the purpose of looking one’s best all the time with less daily effort. Shapiro’s (2017) article “Microblading, Tattoos, Extensions: The Answer to an Easier Morning” featured in the New York Times describes popular procedures as eyebrow shaping and fill, lip coloring, and filling in stretch marks with ink that matches one’s skin for an “effortlessly glamorous” look. The growing popularity of these procedures stem from both growing time constraints and the desire to simply look beautiful all the time.
Shapiro’s (2017) article details one particular salon in New York City has prices that begin at $1,500 and sees most clients as often as twice per month, but these types of procedures are becoming more common nationally. Haiken (1997) can help us understand this phenomena in the greater context of cosmetic surgery as a whole. She began the section of her work we read by discussing the reasons why people get cosmetic surgery, including the pursuit of economic success (pg. 9). However, though the end goal (such as to look younger, feel more glamorous, gain advantages at work) may be the same for the procedures Haiken focuses on, but there are unique differences. Semipermanent make-up doesn’t intend to give the recipient anything “new” like a new facial feature or lighter skin. Instead, it intends to take what the recipient does have and keep it “polished” all the time.
The rhetoric around semipermanent make-up contributes into the expectation that 1) beauty is meant to be enjoyed by others, particularly potential or current romantic partners, 2) make-up gives universal confidence, and 3) a woman with her life together wears make-up. In addition to the questions we have already explored on more traditional cosmetic surgery, these specific procedures make me wonder how these expectations will affect future standards in society, particularly the workplace. If you either enjoy make up or intend to conform regardless of whether you like the practice or not, is it more practical to get these procedures and reap the rewards society gives? Or is the expectation that now women can look glamorous all the time, so they should, too dangerous?
- Elizabeth Haiken. Venus Envy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
- Shapiro, Bee. “Microblading, Tattoos, Extensions: The Answer to an Easier Morning.” The New York Times. May 22, 2017. Accessed June 02, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/fashion/microblading-tattoos-extensions.html?_r=0.