Feeling guilty after the make-up workshop

After chemo on Monday I attended the Look Good Feel Better workshop – this is a free two hour workshop for women with cancer. The focus of the workshop is make-up. Immediately after the workshop, I didn’t feel better, rather I felt guilty. Why did I bother?

Had I not be lured into the workshop by people saying it was excellent, I likely would not have chosen to attend. I had been warned, but the warning was from back in Canada, where surely, it was different. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was that different (or perhaps not different at all). If you are someone like likes to put on make-up in the morning, and who wants to learn how some tricks of the trade by professional estheticians, then you may very well enjoy the workshop. But don’t expect the facilitator to know anything about cancer – and don’t expect them to know what make-up is good for you – and don’t even expect that the make-up kit you receive will contain make-up you can use after the workshop. They categorize the make-up into three colour schemes (light, medium, dark). Given that I was a medium, the medium range is pretty wide! You don’t know what colors or even what types of make-up are in the kit until after you open it – at which time it cannot be re-used.

My behavior made me experiencing cognitive dissonance. In one breath, I am asking you to help sponsor my fundraising walk that raises awareness about the chemicals in our life that increase risk of breast cancer, in the next breath I’m attending a cosmetic workshop where some of these chemicals are used to produce beauty products that I do not need and will not use.

So, in short, if you are someone who wears make-up and wants to spend a couple of hours getting some tips from professional estheticians, then you will likely enjoy the workshop. If you are someone like me, who never wears make-up (I wear the occasional lipstick), then don’t bother. It is both a waste of your time, but is also an environmental waste – as all the free make-up you are given will need to be tossed out once you open it. Here is a selfie of me with make-up … it didn’t last long as the foundation irritated my skin, so I washed it off shortly after the workshop!

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  • Becky


  • I can totally see your point. I think chemicals in make-up are a problem too. Did you see the documentary Pink Ribbons Inc? I recommend it. There is a great line in it that says something like, “We cannot solve the problem of a disease that is, at least in part, caused by commercialism by more commercialism.” It is referring to all the pink products you can buy where some of the money goes towards research. Your blog post seems to be expressing that too.

  • Some of these conflicting things like make-up that might cause reactions are just thoughtlessness that can be reduced by blogs like yours. FASD Fetal (or foetal) Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are a big problem in northern Canada and sadly the biggest money makers at the local FASD “awareness” fund events are the open cash bars featuring hard liquor. It’s a disconnect driven by ignorance fostered by the way commercialism distorts things and confuses us into associating products to needs. Anyway, I’m not even allowed to wear my favorite deodorant “Anarchy” to my chemo sessions as the sent is too strong:-)

    The person who does our local “Dress for Success” pre-employment course de-emphasizes make-up in favor of clothing choice. She also has resources for borrowing nice outfits to try out and I’ve heard of a similar program in Vancouver run by executive assistants to some of the big corporate CEOs who donate to young people’s wardrobes for interviews. This seems more relevant to a person’s overall self-image and may even cost less.

    Sharon, you might want to check out: “Public Relations, Activism and Social Change” by Kristin Demetrious.

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