Why Cosmetics Work
This chapter addresses the question of whether personal decoration practices are arbitrary or follow discernable rules. The primary focus of investigation is the practice of color cosmetics(make-up). It begins by demonstrating the existence of a sex difference in facial contrast, then presents evidence that cosmetics are used in precisely the correct way to exaggerate this sex difference, making the face appear more feminine, and hence attractive. It then describes ways in which cosmetics are used to manipulate other factors of beauty in addition to sexual dimorphism. It proposes that cosmetics can be viewed as a kind of technology for manipulating these universal factors of facial attractiveness. Finally, the chapter discusses how this account of cosmetics may relate to personal decoration in general.
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