So this article (which will probably have been retracted back behind the drawbridge by the time you click, but don't worry I'll reproduce relevant parts here) talks about how French women wear less or more subtle makeup than American women.
True? Sure. Why not. Whatever.
An example of silly France-baiting and really bad sociology*? Uh, yeah. (eg. "Certainly, the French delight in defining themselves in opposition to America, no matter what the topic — food, wine, diplomacy, even beauty. But this attitude is complicated — a blend of chauvinism and fascination, perhaps with a touch of envy. The French admire the Americans, even as they criticize and dismiss them." Boy, between not wearing makeup and secretly admiring America, they sure sound busy over there! How do they find time to eat them snails, even with those 35 hour work weeks?!)
But, ok, it brought up an interesting point for me. I've gotten to thinking about France and America and all that quite a bit lately, as Manpants is in fact, le Manpants. I've got a whole French family I'm very fond of, and watching cultures intersect close up is a lot of fodder for thought, especially when the two cultures are so weirdly intertwined.
And so I guess what is interesting to me about this article is that it aligns with my perception that often, to the French, one's appearance has a real moral component.
Here, if it occured to us to say anything, we might make fun of a woman wearing too much makeup, but we don't think that hard about it. I don't think many people would invoke the idea of actual DECEPTION, and articulate their objection the way a 22 year old nurse in the article did: "American girls worship the cult of the 'ideal woman. No part of the face seems to be forgotten. And when you use too much makeup, it means you are hiding from yourself."
Anyway, this is a fledgling impression. On the one hand, I feel like invoking morality in makeup just another way to give women a hard time. On the other... well, gosh, I think expecting women to wear and buy ton of makeup without thinking to hard about why and if they want it is a way to give women a hard time. So. No one wins this round.
*EVERY SINGLE US PAPER'S coverage of the student protests used them as an excuse to be really strangely smug. It was like, since something vaguely approximating free-market capitalism has worked sort of okay-ish I guess in the US, France fails to the extent that it deviates from that. There was like zero comprehension that this was another country with, like, its own history and economic traditions. FAR OUT!