To Achieve Beauty: HMacMaster

After reading Jonathan Swift’s A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed I found myself somewhat disgusted when he described the process Corinna went through when she was getting ready to go to sleep. The whole poem seemed so exaggerated as if Swift was making fun of the time and effort it took for Corinna to become beautiful. Swift made the readers take a closer look at what society viewed as beautiful by exposing the steps it took for a woman to achieve this “beauty”. His descriptions made the whole process seem tedious and foolish because when Corinna wakes up he described her as “A dreadful sight”, so what was all the effort really for if underneath all the makeup she wasn’t truely beautiful? Why do women feel the need to put so much work into their psychical appearance in order for themselves to simply feel presentable to the world?

All of this seemed somewhat foolish to me, so an even better question is: Why do I feel the need to spend so much time maintaining my appearance? Women have fought long and hard to gain equal rights and to have the same amount of power as men, but as a whole we are still expected to appear a certain way, whether it be in the 18th century or the 21st century. As I laughed and turned up my nose at Corinna and her beauty routine, I had to stop and think about my own. Although I do not glue mouse hair to my face for eyebrows, I have used fake eyelashes which isn’t much different considering most of them are made from real human hair and you have to glue them to your eyelids if you want them to stick properly. Corinna also caked her face with plaister which may not be exactly what is involved in my personal beauty routine, but I still cover my face with foundation to “enhance” my natural skin tone. After the foundation coats my face, then comes bronzer because your face should always have a natural ‘sun-kissed’ glow…even in the winter. Corinna and myself don’t seem so different. We both have distorted views on what beauty really is because of societies expectation for women and we have allowed ourselves to feel pressured to look a certain way in order to be presentable to the world.

A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed seemed like a logical piece for me to base my photo assignment around because it is a topic that I can relate to. I get up every day and put makeup on my face just like Corinna did which gives me a more experienced look into the poem and the process it takes to become “beautiful”. My photo is a modern day version of Corinna’s night table. I can image that my bathroom vanity in the morning may look just as foreign and complex to any man today as Corinna’s night table did to Jonathan Swift in the 18th century.


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