First, there’s the ageism you’re perpetuating: make-up is intended, to a large degree, to make one look younger. In many respects, younger is better, but in many respects, it isn’t (and anyway, make-up merely gives one the appearance of being younger). True, at some point in time, being old is completely the pits, but hey, that’s life, deal with it – without delusion or deception (or implied insult).
Second, if make-up were merely intended to (attempt to) make one beautiful, well, I suppose there’s no harm in that – the world can always use a little more beauty. However, I despair at the pathetically low aesthetic standards in use if a blue eyelid is considered beautiful – let’s at least see a glittering rainbow under that eyebrow arch! Further, I despair at the attention to beauty of skin if at the expense of beauty of character.
However, make-up is intended as much, if not more, to (attempt to) make one sexually attractive. (To some extent, I suppose physical beauty is sexually attractive, but that suggests a very narrow definition of beauty: a dog running full-out is beautiful but not, at least to me, sexually attractive.) (It also suggests a very narrow definition of sexual attractiveness.) I’m thinking, for example, of reddened (and puckered) lips – what is that but an advertisement for fellatio? Consider too the perfume (especially if it’s musk rather than floral), and the earrings (earlobes as erogenous zones), and the bras that push up and pad – all are part of the woman’s morning grooming routine, her ‘getting ready’ (that phrase itself begs the question ‘Ready for what?’) (‘Sex!’).
Now there’s nothing wrong with being sexually attractive per se. But there is something wrong – something sick – about wanting to be bait (sexually attract-ive) all day long. Especially when those same women complain about the attention they receive for their sexual attractiveness – the looks, the comments, the invitations (can you say ‘sexual harassment’?) Not only is there a serious self-esteem problem here, there’s a serious consistency of thought problem here.
Third, combine the first point with the first part of the second point and we see another problem: make-up endorses the ‘(only) young is beautiful’ attitude.
Combine the first point with the second part of the second point: make-up endorses the ‘(only) young is sexually attractive’ attitude.
Add the shaved legs and armpits (and eyeliner, for that big baby doe-eyed look?), and we see we’re not just talking ‘young’ as in ‘twenty years old’ but ‘young’ as in pre-pubescent (only pre-pubescents are hairless, only pre-pubescents have such smooth skin). And that’s really disturbing – to establish/reinforce the sexual attractiveness of pre-pubescents.
Why is it (we think) men find young women, girls, sexually attractive? I doubt it’s just the ‘heathy for childbearing’ thing. Because actually, it’s not healthy for girls to bear children, and it’s not even possible for pre-pubescents to do so. (And it’s not like the men follow up in nine months to claim their progeny.) (But then I’m assuming rational behaviour here.)
I suspect it’s the power thing. Men can have power over, feel superior to, children more easily than adults. So in addition to encouraging child sexual abuse, women who shave their legs and otherwise appear/act prepubescent are reinforcing the ‘sex as power’ instead of ‘sex as pleasure’ attitude (though of course I guess for many men power is pleasure).
Last, compounding all of this is the custom that only women wear make-up. Which reinforces the whole patriarchy thing: the women are sexual objects while the men are sexual subjects. (‘Course, without make-up, and the loss of about 20 pounds, and, well, major surgery, most men couldn’t cut it as sexual objects anyway.)