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Defying the beauty myth

 Text: Dr Liz Conor, AnyBody contributor

It is never the done thing for a woman to extol any part of herself as

worthy. It is the done thing to be neurotic and thereby of especial

remunerative value to the beauty industry. But I must say, lately my

fingertips have been in very fine form.


They are smooth, unblemished, wrinkle free, and with enviably even skin



You see, every time I smear eye gel and wrinkle softener and bio-oil and

paw-paw ointment and sun-screen onto my face, it first gets gobbed onto the

ends of my fingers which then prep with a little digital frottage. My

fingertips probably absorb more Jurlique that the myriad Œtrouble spots¹

that occupy the increasingly uneven terrain of my over-40 face.


By rights my plump little pads should be showing all the signs of having

become the principal beneficiaries of a lotioning regime that no woman with

a duty to beauty would ever dare to let lapse.


Thus it is surely our fingertips that should be held up as living proof of

the virtues of moisturizing. They should be celebrated for their suppleness

on the covers of Vogue and Madison and the fingertips of celebrities praised

for their age-defying firmness in weekend magazine features.


Yet fingertips never appear full-frontal in cosmetic advertisements, even

though, all of us unguent junkies are mostly treating these outer

extremities. Sometimes they do make an appearance in those instructional ads

that show with arrows exactly in which direction you need to apply your

liniment for maximum firming impact. But as if resisting the paparazzi and

the eye-focused world it panders to, fingertips are always coyly turned away

from the camera.


Paring off the disproportionately over-represented and over-attended and

frankly perfectly spoiled realm of Nails, why have we given so little

attention to our fingertips when they have such a hand in our beauty

maintenance? With every other part of our bodies, except perhaps our toes

(as distinct from toenails), singled out for extreme makeovers and zoned for

modification, improvement and treatment, how have our fingertips, the

cats-cradle bridge between bottle and body, been so flagrantly cast aside?


If you were a dreadful cynic, and daily witnessed your brow furrowing under

your wrinkle softener, you might think of two reasons.


Fingertips are unmodifiable.


Fingertips are in fact over-treated, yet unable to evince any sign of it.


As such fingertips are an audacious affront to the billion dollar cosmetic

industry. They prove that our bodies are largely impervious to the thing

that this incalculably opulent industry really sells. Lotioning. (Sun-screen

aside - though I¹ve never seen a freckled or sunburnt fingertip).


If we paid proper attention to fingertips we¹d notice that they soak up a

greater proportion of the oils, unguents and serums that are more expensive

by the gram than uranium ­ and thereby, if you follow the logic of the

beauty industry, are the most alluring part of a woman¹s body.


Fingertips are on the pulse of beauty culture charlatanism. Forget

statistics and a poignantly portrayed personal history of anorexia. Naomi

Wolf needed to look no further than her most far-flung appendages to

demolish the beauty myth.


For who has heard of fingertips being too fat, thin, disproportioned or

aged? Aside from puckering quite becomingly in the bath I suspect our

fingertips carry us through to the end of our mortality looking much the

same on our deathbeds as they did when we clawed our way into life.


And, in the interim, what a service they perform! Have they ever been

acknowledged as a sex-organ? Or, since the predominance of the keyboard,

credited as the Membrane of Communication? In this ocularcentric world, once

again doing the rounds of Golden-Globe and Oscar mania, is there an awards

ceremony for excellence in touching and feeling anywhere that prizes

fingertips rather than solar-plexes?


We are mesmerized by Nigella¹s cuisine but never consider the role her

pinkies play in all that saucy tip-to-tongue action. When it comes to

Nigella all senses are reduced to that overstuffed and overrated organ of

taste that doesn¹t bear mention. But having excited so much controversy, not

to mention fantasy, surely Nigella¹s fingertips deserve their own agents?


The same goes for adored musicians of every genre. Habitually sensorily

reductive we limit all aural pleasure to the ear, but forget the mechanics

of music. The sheer haptic virtuosity of a pianist or harpist or violinist

depends on the strike and stroke of their fingertips.


With all this brushing off, I¹m surprised fingertips haven¹t sought to annex

themselves from the human body altogether. But as the croupiers of the

digital world, they could also provide a perfect alibi for the world¹s

present economic crisis. A complete set of the finger prints of all the

unregulated Bankers of Wall Street and we¹d soon have our crooks with their

hands up.


The point is fingertips are all over everything and yet most of us are

stumped about whether fingertip is one word, or two, or hyphenated. We

should never forget that it is the insouciantly moist fingertip that gives

us the finger, and deservedly so.


Dr Liz Conor

Honorary Research Fellow

Department of Culture and Communications

University of Melbourne



Reader Comments (12)

i love hands! they are so sexy. i def have a hand fetish lol
March 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersarah
I never use water to wash my hands only lotion. Water will destroy the skin over time
March 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergetexback
For those seeking relief from aging, wrinkly skin, Botox is an excellent, non-surgical means of reducing the look of wrinkles and fine lines. Botox actually temporarily paralyzes the muscles that cause facial wrinkles, especially those of crows' feet or wrinkles from the nose to the corners of the mouth. Several treatments are needed for optimal results, and while not permanent, the results can last for several months at a time, giving you a younger, fresher looking face.
April 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergetexback
I have found that using the combination of exercise, weight loss diet and tropical creams can do wonders for the skin. here is a site that says it all. <a href="">Lose Weight Review</a>
May 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergetexback
Here is the site on my prvious post, It did not post it for some reason.
May 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergetexback
why are the above posts on Botox and weight loss diet on this website!? Seems as though someone is being smart about where to plant their advertising.
May 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrem
Thank you for the post. I think I can use some of this desperately;
June 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthigh diet
One of the beauties is called " natural beauty". I think this can be a good explanation.
September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
Wow, looks great! So it can run with Firefox and Google Monochrome! I was like dying to find this. Thanks a lot!
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October 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterexercise ball
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March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClarkDorin

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