Beautification In Ancient Egypt and Beyond

Of all the things I could chose to write about this week, I ended up thinking about makeup. Even though men tend to stay away from the little containers of colored powder and tubes of lipstick, women at least tend to put a little something on their faces before leaving the house. When Dr. Watrall mentioned in lecture that the earliest Predynastic people in Upper Egypt, those who lived during the Badarian phase, used ground up minerals for eye paint, it got me thinking about beautification, and how even now, humans use eye paint and much more to say something about themselves.

There are so many things about human civilizations that have changed over the thousands of years. We’ve gone from huts to mansions, donkeys to jets, and wood fires to microwaves and that is of course just to name a few of the incredible changes that humans have seen throughout their time on this planet.

It’s interesting, however, to look at the things that have remained the same, even after about 6,000 years. In 4,000 BC, Egyptians were using black powder to make their eyes into different shapes. In 2012, women, and even some men, are still doing it. Ancient Mayans filed their teeth into different shapes, and attached boards to babies’ foreheads to alter the growth of their skulls and shape them into more “beautiful” positions. It seems like a lot of pain and work for results that aren’t worth it, but thousands of years from now, people might dig our own bones up and shake their heads at the bits of metal attached to our teeth, or the silicone gel inserted into women’s breasts. Even now, one culture might view another’s efforts for beauty as strange, but when it all comes down to it, this is one aspect of human society that has never changed. Whether it’s a straight smile, dark eyes, flat foreheads, or something else just as drastic, humans will always go out of the way to make themselves into what they view as beautiful.

1 thought on “Beautification In Ancient Egypt and Beyond

  1. I find your post extremely interesting. I like that you chose to focus on beauty and it is – as clichéd as this is going to sound – in the eye of the beholder. But the extent that some will go to achieve, what they assume, certain beauty fads is somewhat extreme, if not ridiculous in some regard. And that idea, that concept – that fact – is something that is still common and will continue to be common.
    It is like humans have some kind of insatiability when it comes to beauty. I think it is more extreme now, which can be worrisome if one were to consider how extreme it will get in the future. Society, these days, is fixated on the preservation of youth, which in turn makes those people alter their physical traits. As you mentioned, if someone were to dig up our remains, thousands of years from now, their findings would probably astound them.
    The alterations that we continue to inflict on ourselves, may actually eventually create some kind of mutation in our genes, so that thousands of years from now, people may actually be born with a longer “youth-like” or “beautiful” period. Obviously, this is just a hypothetical situation, but say a person applies enough eyeliner (or whatever) and eventually creates a permanent darkened tinge to their lower lash line. Perhaps their offspring may be born with a darker coloring in his/her lower lash line. Then so on, their offspring will have lash lines with gradually increasing dark lash lines. A thousand years later, there will be a whole bunch of people with naturally dark lower lash lines. It will have its perks in the future, but may also come with its share of cons, as well. Again, that was just a hypothetical solution. But you essentially get what I’m trying to convey haha.

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