November 18, 2016

SUIT DU JOUR | The Imagination: a Vehicle for Time-travel

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If you could go back in time, who would you want to meet? And why?

Whether you think about it religiously or not, there is a historical figure from the past who has significantly molded your present. We are shaped by the people who precede us and these people guide us to our destinations, no matter how subtle their presence may be in our minds.

If I could go back in time, I would love to meet Helena Rubinstein– the woman who pioneered what is today called “make-up.” I discovered her when I went to the Jewish Museum in New York City with my mom and brother a few Christmases ago and the connection I felt for her identity was instantaneous, as her history, endeavors, personal life and goals seemed similar to my very own.

In the nineteenth century, Helena Rubinstein revolutionized the world for women. She sought to liberate women from the subjugation and oppression they experienced in the hegemonic society they lived in. Providing women with makeup, or what she termed, “exterior decoration,” was her way of giving women the chance to express their unique individualities. It was a way for them to gain power– the emotional power to brace themselves for the victorious defeats in women’s rights that they did not realize lay ahead. While she was not a labeled feminist per se, she encouraged women to be strong in their own skin and instilled in them a newfound self-confidence to help them move forward and make progressive change.

Make-up is thus a powerful political tool. There is a reason why women and men (although rare) love what it can offer: it conceals and reveals who we are simultaneously. It can conceal our blemishes but reveal our true inner emanating beauty. Michelle Obama, David Bowie, Amy Schumer– are all individuals who have worn it with a purpose and for different purposes. With President Trump as our nation’s new leader, we cannot doubt the power of the tools that we have in front of us. So why not continue using makeup as a way to stand up for women’s rights? How can individuals of all genders enforce positive change through what may seem like a vain and simple process?

In an era where feminism is trending, resistance is accepted, even expected of us millennials. We must challenge traditional conventional norms of beauty and leave a mark by wearing one. Cover Girl recently made a young male the new face of its brand– a major political move especially considering the company’s name. If we follow in Cover Girl’s footsteps, we can give in to the transformative power of aesthetics. Understanding the art of makeup is tactile and effective way to enact change.