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Beauty represents a concept, an ideology and the desire to look a certain way. Most women nowadays compare themselves to media icons, with red cheeks, sharp jaw line, and wide almond eyes, which make them, feel dissatisfied with their appearance. This dissertation aims at examining the Socio-Cultural dimensions of beauty makeup practices among women in Buea. Additionally, it examined women’s perceptions and attitudes towards makeup trends in Buea and also assessed the place of makeup in women’s social status.

The data for this work was collected through Interviews and Participant observation. Instruments used were question guide and observational checklist. Based on one of the major objectives, information gathered revealed that most respondents had an understanding of what makeup was all about by demonstrating that it is the use of any aesthetic products on the face or body to enhance the physical appearance of someone.

Most respondents also demonstrated that they use makeup occasionally like during weddings, graduations, birthdays and any ceremony of importance. Makeup was also seen here to have many uses like to enhance the outfit of people, use for acting films and also by football fans. The community was seen to perceive non-users of makeup as ‘villagers’, poor, ‘uncivilized’ and religious fanatics while others regarded them as modest, natural and good wife materials.

One of the major recommendations was that makeup users should endeavor to purchase their products from appropriate shops and should not be exaggerated on the skin because of the adverse effects it can bring upon the skin. Furthermore, educational level, marital status, and monthly salary, all have a positive impact on make-up usage.

Key words: Socio-Cultural, beauty, makeup, perceptions, cosmetics


1.0 Introduction

During an early age, women are introduced to images of beauty and society’s ambiguous consensus on perfection. Face make-up is as old as man. It varies from culture to culture. Make-up is an integral part of most women’s life in our societies. The motivation to decorate the body and face has its beginnings in pre-historic days, when from the start, men used it to camouflage their form from predatory animals and to instill fear into threatening opponents (Corson 1972). As time went on, body painting and tattooing became linked to identity, being used to mark clan membership, as an artifact in ritual celebration and worship, and as a medium to stick and attract the opposite sex.

According to Noth, (1990), the role of make-up as a symbolic medium has ancient origins and whilst the meaning and symbols painted on faces may have changed over the centuries, the myth and mystery associated with facial adornment has not changed. Make-up is not a recent invention. Women and men wore make-up in ancient cultures, such as Egypt. While the use of cosmetics has changed over the years, today in societies all over the world, women are the main buyers and users of makeup.

Cosmetics are often applied to look attractive. Therefore, the use of cosmetics is a way to support the women’s appearance. The modern world “bombards” us with the image of a “perfect woman”, which makes more and many women compare themselves with the media image and experience the feeling of growing dissatisfaction with their own appearance. Numerous attempts are made to modify it in order to achieve the desired image. With the help of facial makeup, Research has demonstrated a positive effect of makeup on facial attractiveness (Cash et al., 1989).
Silverio (2009), argues that in every society, there is a standard of appearance that the population is expected to follow. In most cultures these standard norms of behavior are considered to be cultural norms (Moriarty, 2008). In Cameroon, like in most parts societies, it is agreed that bathing on a daily basis, brushing one’s teeth, and other general bathroom habits have become part of the cultural norm.

It has often been an assumption in today’s culture that, if one does not take the time to groom themselves properly, there is something wrong with them. Many at times those who do not keep up with these grooming habits are assumed to have a mental disease or defect, be poorly cared for, or have a low opinion of themselves.
No human society known to Anthropologists or social historians has not decorated the body in some way or the other. These decorations have included wide variations in body modifications both temporary and permanently, including sculpting or shaping, tattooing, piercing, scarification, coloring. The display of cosmetics is a cultural universal Kennett, (1995).

Women are so concerned with their physical appearance, and one way to enhance their physical appearance is through makeup. Makeup is a regular part of many women’s daily grooming routines. Liubov, (2016), argues that their external appearance plays a key role in everyday life’s social interactions. Hence, taking care of their appearance allows women to adjust and protect themselves, as well as communicate emotional disposition (sympathy or aversion) and social information (values, status). Makeup as a culture has changed over time and keeps changing, the uses, frequency and motives for its use is equally rapidly changing.

As the category of make-up is so diverse and continually expanding it is not feasible to examine the total sector Therefore, because the face is such an important vehicle in daily communication, this study will be limited to visible face-make-up alone. The present study will examine the socio-cultural dimensions of beauty make-up practices among women in Buea South West region of Cameroon.










1.1 Background of the Study

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