One of a half-dozen large cosmetics shops at Taipei's Taoyuan International airport
We are, hands down, the most vain species of creatures on the planet, no doubt about it. Worldwide, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year in an effort to make ourselves look like something other than who we actually are. It's a phenomenon that's long amazed me. I'm not talking about clothing - that's a separate horror show - and those who know me have long ago come to accept that I don't make fashion statements, I make fashion slurs!
When I was a child I was blissfully unaware of most of it, other than seeing men shaving and splashing cologne on for an evening out or watching women I knew painting and powdering their faces far more often than I could understand. In elementary school I wore clean clothes and learned I was expected to brush my hair if I wanted to avoid the ridicule of my peers, but that's about as far as it went - until puberty caused many of our faces to resemble miniatures battlefields - and I think that's when many of us fall victim to the advertising.
In many ways it was a blessing that I hail from humble beginnings. There was no lusting after the newest Levis or bicycles or clothing because we just couldn't afford it, plain and simple. We could afford soap and water, and - face facts - that's about all anyone really needs to be presentable. While I don't necessarily celebrate every sign of age that appear on this shell that carries my spirit around I don't feel compelled to invest much energy in a show of smoke and mirrors to fool people into thinking I'm younger than I am. I don't fault those that do - that's their own business - but let's face facts here, folks: it's an investment of time and effort that in the end will show no reward.
The legend remains that Ponce De Leon went searching for the Fountain of Youth back in the 1500s, and variations of that worldwide obsession still rule much of the realm of personal grooming to this day. Here's what I feel is a good example of just such behavior: there are three basic type of items available for sale in the "Duty Free" shops in airports worldwide: make-up, cigarettes and liquor. That's it. OK, there's a smattering of chocolates, I'll grant you that much.
The images up top today were taken in Taoyuan airport as I waited to board my connecting flight to Suvarnabhumi, and I stitched four of them together to show the whole shop. Mind you, this one was far from the rest of the shopping areas, where there were at least five other shops, all larger than this one - some three times as large. That's one hell of a lot of snake oil. The above woman was meticulously dusting and re-arranging each item on the shelves as I sat there for twenty minutes or so, thinking about the business.
Sorry if I've touched a nerve with anyone today, but I find all of this just as much of a waste of time as I do the cigarettes and liquor available in the other duty-free shops.
My personal feeling about trying to fool Mother Nature is this: to those who really matter in our lives, it doesn't matter if we become a bit wrinkled, lined and flabby. It's what happens.
Now, if someone would help me down off of this soap box, I need to go shave and get myself presentable to go out for the day. Or not.