By Ruth Rieder
The first recorded use of makeup in Western cultures comes from Ancient Egypt.”‘ Thebes, an Egyptian city filled with witchcraft and prostitution, was renowned for its painted women. They used exotic eye makeup to intensify their sexual attraction and to aid in the art of seduction. Makeup was also used in idol worship to please the gods and to gain their attention. Egypt’s influence continued through the centuries as various cultures imitated its practices.
Cosmetics remained synonymous with harlotry, idolatry, vanity, and deceit, causing religious groups such as the Puritans to staunchly forbid the use of face paint. In his 1616 Discourse Against Painting and Tincturing, Puritan Thomas Tuke warned, “A painted face is a false face, a true falsehood, not a true face.” Women who painted usurped the divine order, taking “the pencill out of God’shand” as poet John Donne phrased. Indeed, some view the cosmetic arts as a form of witchcraft.
For the majority of the nineteenth century, face painting was prohibited among respectable people. To most Americans, the painted woman was simply a prostitute who brazenly advertised her immoral profession through rouge and kohl. Newspapers, tracts, and songs associated paint and prostitution so closely as to be a generic figure of speech. In New York, “painted, diseased, drunken women, bargaining themselves away,” could be found in theaters while in New Orleans, “painted Jezebels exhibited themselves in public carriages” during Mardi Gras. How did this sign of disrepute become the daily routine of millions?
The wall of resistance showed a few hairline cracks with the onset of theatrical influence. By the 1880s, Lillie Langtry, Adelina Patti, and other performers appeared in cosmetics advertisements and testimonials. Makeup slowly began to merge from the stage into everyday life, heightening the importance of image making and performance. Standardized models of beauty were introduced using photographic and stage makeup techniques that challenged the “natural” look. However, it would be several more years before society would accept makeup as the “norm.”
Before World War I, painted women remained kiwi-lades to a significant extent. “I have seen women going along the street with their cheeks aglow with paint, everyone twisting their necks and looking,” one woman deserved. Working women were sent home for appearing NI the job with an “artificial complexion”; the manager of Macy’s fired one rouged saleswoman in 1913 with the comment that “he was not running a theatrical troupe but a department store.” Public authorities tried in vain to preserve the older ideal of womanly beauty. In 1915, a Kansas legislator proposed to make it a misdemeanor for women under the age of forty-four to wear cosmetics “for the purpose of creating a false impression.” Several years later, policewomen in Newark collared teenage girls at the train stations, “overawed them by a display of their police badges, and forced them to wash rouge and powder from their faces.” Juvenile courts granted parental requests to bar their delinquent daughters from making up. In these circumstances, paint still implied sexual enticement and trickery, a false face.
Men in particular maintained these conventional views. Edward Bok, editor of the Ladies Home Journal, observed in 1912 that men continued to see rouge as a mark of sex and sin: “The stigma has never been removed by men, and is not, in their minds today.” Letters to the Baltimore Sun from male readers confirm his observation of that era’s masculine mind-set. “Such decorating is the same as an invitation to a flirtation,” one man stated flatly. “Every painted or flashily dressed woman is deemed by most men to be of questionable character.” In an expanding consumer culture, these small goods posed yet another danger. One Evansville, Indiana, man sued for divorce, claiming his wife spent eighteen dollars monthly on cosmetics and perfume; another denied responsibility when his wife charged $1,500 for toiletries on their store account, saying she was “possessed of a passion for such luxuries.”
Max Factor, a prominent makeup artist for movie stars, began to package his products and sell them out of his makeup studio. Others joined in this avenue of money making. Women such as Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein opened beauty salons on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Then smaller operations sprang up across the country. The initial products promoted were skin care systems that included an array of cleansing and nourishing creams for the face and neck.
After World War 1, women’s growing acceptance of beautifying products blossomed into a mass market for cosmetics. From expensive skin creams to dime store makeup, new goods made their way into the marketplace as profits soared. Many major women’s magazines partook of this new source of revenue by participating in advertisement. The promise of substantial proceeds caused former convictions about this questionable practice to be discarded. By the 1930s, regular beauty columns were standard fare as editors eagerly cooperated with the largest cosmetic firms.
With the inception of mass marketing, an advertising frenzy ensued as women were slowly being conditioned to believe that painting was permissible. Cosmetic ads endlessly reminded women that they were on display and must ever remain a vision of perfect beauty. The painted face had suddenly become the sign of the times. What had once been denounced as paint was now celebrated as glamour.
Thanks to Hollywood, cosmetics evolved into the giant industry it is today. During the twenties, makeup features in magazines were rare. Today movie stars appear in fan and fashion magazines, contributing to the new looks with their step-by-step guides. With the help of face makeup, eye shadows, pencils, mascara, rouge, and the very essential lipstick, the “girl next door” can become “glamour girl”.
Ironically, vanity, deceit, and desire, having once been seen as women’s vices, were now considered signs of a normal mind. Beauty manuals and women’s magazines urged women to encourage narcissism in their daughters. Asserting women’s “right to ROMANCE”, advertisements offered cosmetics as talismans and weapons in the proper quest for men and marriage. “Most men are like babies,” stated one beauty guide, and women should use cosmetics to manipulate them—discreetly.
In the 1920s and 1930s, cosmetics producers, beauty experts, and advertisers shifted the burden of female identity from an interior self to a personality made manifest by marking and coloring the face. They claimed makeup was a true expression of feminine identity and not a false mask. Making over was a means of individual self-development. Underlying all the skillful advertising techniques and high-sounding ideals was a prevailing lust for money. Women were brainwashed into believing that beauty could be found in a bottle of makeup.
What started as a cry for liberation and a bid for freedom from restraints has in fact become an instrument of bondage. Women are coerced to believe that they are not beautiful without makeup. They are afraid to perform tile smallest tasks outside their homes unless they have put on their “face”. Self-confidence is destroyed incessantly is one beauty ideal after the other assaults women.
It is interesting to note that makeup was originally used to advertise harlotry. However, ambitious entrepreneurs and beauty experts strive to prove and proclaim its respectability while at the same time they are concealing its primary purpose. “Female makeup is conventionally thought of as a means of disguising age and imperfections. In fact, it only does this partially; its main effect is to create the appearance of erotic arousal: the wide eyes, the swollen, reddened lips, the flushing of the skin.” Once again, the cover-up is exposed. Considering the weight of this disclosure, is makeup really innocent after all?
Modern stores are filled with beauty aids of every sort. There are paints for faces, fingers, and feet. If a person is not content with her appearance, she can have a makeover! The latest craze is tattooed makeup. A woman no longer needs an hour to put on her “face”. She can wear rouge, eye shadow, and lipstick permanently. A remedy is even offered for tattered fingernails! Just visit a salon to have fake nails applied. Talk about convenience!
Magazines are full of advertisements and articles detailing the most fashionable grease paint and fingernail polish colors. Women are enticed to paint their face, fingers, and toe nails in the most hideous colors, all in the name of beauty. Meanwhile, the Church does not remain immune to these voices.
The enemy whispers in our ears that indulging in these fashions will not hurt us. “Just take a little bite of the forbidden fruit. After all, who wants to look pale as a ghost or have washerwoman hands?” STOP!! Before you buy into his lies, let us unmask the origin of the art of artifice. Is it okay to make up? Should we turn a blind eye to the worldliness that is creeping in, or is it time to sound an alarm? Should the children of God who are called to reflect His glory engage in such practices? Let us find out what the Word of the Lord says to us concerning these matters.
Lucifer was created perfect in beauty.’ As he reflected the light of God’s glory, he was the epitome of flawless perfection. However, his separation from God obliterated all traces of his previous splendor. No longer the shimmering, anointed cherub, Lucifer became darkness, the direct opposite of the light he once radiated. Isaiah prophesied, “They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?”‘
No longer the magnificent creature he once was, I Lucifer must resort to subterfuge in order to enhance his appearance. The initial guise that he assumed was that of a serpent in the Garden of Eden. His first order of business was to annihilate God’s creation to gain control of the earth.
Through his subtlety satan beguiled Eve, convincing her God had created mankind imperfect. Partaking of the forbidden fruit would open their eyes, making them like gods, knowing good and evil. Eve thought God’s image would be greatly enhanced when in reality it was soon to
Satan’s strategy has not changed. He continually tells mankind their lives will be improved by partaking of what he offers. In his quest to destroy God’s image, the devil assumes many disguises. He masquerades as a beast, a dragon, the Anti-Christ, and the False Prophet.’
Peter warned us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”‘ Who is the true lion—the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Satan is bold enough to pose as the Son of God while seeking to devour an unsuspecting soul through false doctrine.
Paul spoke of satan’s ability to transform himself “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.’ Although he appears as a light bearer, hi reality his light is darkness. Jesus averred, “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! Lucifer is the greatest makeup artist who ever existed!
Consider for a moment the words “makeup” and “made-up”. These words are used to depict something that is false. When someone tells a lie, we say, “He made that up,” or “She makes it up as she goes along.” That is why we do not make up. Because “no lie is of the truth “!
Genesis 1:27 states that we are created in the image of God, the most extraordinarily beautiful Being that ever existed. If we are created in God’s likeness, why would we want to alter His image? Yet satan tries to tell us that we would look better if we looked like him.
Throughout Scripture, makeup has always been synonymous with idolatry and harlotry. Jezebel was an extremely wicked woman whose influence contaminated both the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah. She sought to eliminate the worship of God through idolatry and whoredoms. Her idolatrous lifestyle included the practice of painting her face.’
The Old Testament records how Israel and Judah t. hose to follow the ways of the heathen. They began to worship their gods and engage in pagan rituals. As a iesult, God resolved to send them into captivity. Jeremiah lind Ezekiel were sent to warn God’s people of impending itidgment. With picturesque language both prophets portray these backslidden nations as harlots with painted faces.12
The human face, which is created in God’s image, is a mirror that reflects His glory to an idolatrous generation. This is illustrated beautifully in the life of Moses. For forty days and forty nights, Moses communed with the Lord on the top of Mount Sinai. “And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.”” The glory of the Lord emanated from Moses’ face as a radiant testimony of his glorious experience.
Remembering the circumstances surrounding Moses’ previous trek down the mountain, Aaron and the children of Israel were afraid to come near. Aaron had made a golden calf for the people to worship. With reckless abandon, they had stripped off their clothes to indulge in unspeakable heathenish rites, provoking God’s wrath that threatened to completely exterminate them. When the Israelites beheld the glory of God shining upon the face of Moses, it reminded them of their sin. At their request, Moses wore a veil whenever he spoke with them.
Likewise, when our lives are transformed by the power of God’s Spirit, glory is revealed in our faces. The glory of God intimidates when we walk through the midst of this wicked and perverse generation. The world wants us to veil the glory so they will not be reminded of a holy God who judges sin.
In II ‘Corinthians 3 the apostle Paul writes about this incident in the Old Testament. “But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.”
As Paul draws the parallel between the two covenants, he focuses on the revelation of the glory in the face of Moses. That glory was transient; however, the radiant power of the Spirit will never fade. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” We have been liberated from the power of darkness, and that liberty shines forth in the unveiled faces of the saints of God.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The glory of God can only reflect in a face free of deception. We do not need any cosmetics to enhance our appearance. The only beautifying agent that a saint of God needs is the Holy Ghost; “he will beautify the meek with salvation.”
Can Max Factor, Maybelline, or Revlon compete with God’s beauty technique? Do not fall prey to the enemy’s lies. Don’t ever veil the glory!
The above article, “Don’t Veil the Glory” is written by Ruth Rieder. The article was excerpted from Rieder’s book Reflecting the Glory.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.