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Why paint?

A fortune is being made in the industry of cosmetics. Make up is a must for ladies and for some reason there seems to be a worldwide attempt by people to be someone other than themselves. Make-up actually conceals certain parts of a person's features - obviously features that one would like to conceal - like wrinkles - and brings out the features that one would like to show to the world - like a beautiful pair of eyes. In every society some form of make-up exists as well as accessories which are calculated to make women beautiful. However, what is considered beauty in some parts of the world differs from other parts. Those of us who had the opportunity to see 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' an excellent movie, would have been surprised at what the bushman hero had to say when he saw a white woman for the first time. His verdict was that she was the ugliest woman he had ever seen, and he made the remark because of her complexion and size. To the bushman, small and dark is beautiful.

Make-up is not new. In ancient Egypt, China, India, and perhaps in all early civilizations, it was a thriving industry. Women just have to dress attractively, or do a whole host of things to get the attention of the men. Strange though it may seem to the modern man, men used to used to use make up too. During the middle ages when it was fashionable for men to be elegant, men used to compete with women to look beautiful - though they still drank and fought and did other inelegant deeds. The fashions of the day did a lot to bring out the beauty of the men. Men wore wings and powered their faces to look beautiful.

In indigenous cultures men wore, and still wear, make up. This is mostly paint. We are used to seeing Native Americans wearing war paint, but that was not the only reason that men painted themselves. There are different types of paints - or make up - for different events. The smearing of color on the face and body is supposed to signal something. An example of a carry over of this practice to modern times is the applying of henna on the hands and feet, by Malays and Indians who are newly wed.

In the animal world, strangely enough, it is the male that wants to look beautiful. It is the peacock that has the beautiful tail feathers, the peahen is plain. In the chicken, the cock has a much better plumage than the hen. The more graceful goldfish is the male. Among those who attract by voice rather than looks, it is the male who sings. The singing canary is male and so is the bullfrog. The reason for all the flaunting of beauty is simple: attract the female and then mate. The female does not have to look beautiful at all, she makes a choice as to who to be attracted to. Among the species where beauty does not seem to matter, like cattle and horses, the males fight it out to attract the females. The role in all nature is the same, the female naturally attracts the male and it is the male who has to make himself attractive - in any way he knows.

   
  Questions
   
  1. (a) Justify the writer's view that a fortune is being made in the cosmetic industry.
    (b) How does the writer seek to simplify what make-up actually does ?
    (c) Describe the example about beauty, or the lack of it, as seen by the bushman ?
       
  2. (a) When was it fashionable for men wear make up ?
    (b) Where and when do men wear make up to today ?
    (c) What does men's make up signify ?
       
  3.   In the animal world it is the male which wants to look beautiful. Explain this with examples.
       
  4.   For each of the following words give one word or short phrase ( not more than seven words ) which has the same meaning as it has in the passage.
      i.   conceal   v.   elegant
      ii.   accessories   vi.   plain
      iii.   complexion   vii.   flaunting
      iv.   thriving   viii.   species
       
  5. In less than 160 words, describe briefly the methods employed by men, women and animals to look beautiful.
       
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  Answers
       
  1. (a) When we consider that an industry exist in all sorts of beauty aids, we see that indeed a fortune is being made in cosmetics.
    (b) He says that make up is for people to hide certain parts of themselves.
    (c) The bushman saw that the woman was big and white and to him that was ugly.
       
  2. (a) In the middle ages men wanted to be elegant and make up was fashionable.
    (b) Men from primitive tribes wear war paint and also paint themselves for celebrations.
    (c) They signal that they are taking part in certain celebrations.
       
  3.   In he animal world the male looks beautiful while the female is plain. The peacock is more beautiful than the peahen; the male goldifish is more beautiful then the female and the cock is more beautiful than the hen.
       
  4. i hide
    ii jewelry
    iii color
    iv doing well
    v refined
    vi simple
    vii showing off
    viii kind
       
  5. Make up is used to conceal certain parts of a person's body and bring out certain other parts. The idea is to make oneself look beautiful to others. For example wrinkles are concealed while eyes are emphasized. In all societies, there is some form of make up and accessories to make one look beautiful. Make up for women has been around since ancient times and, in the middle ages, men too wanted to look beautiful. Men wore wigs and powdered themselves.

In indigenous cultures men still paint themselves to celebrate different occasions. This type of make up is supposed to signal something and in some form is practiced everywhere. Strangely, it is only in the human species that the female adorns herself and wants to appear beautiful. In the animal world, it is the male that looks better, as among birds. For those animals who don't look beautiful, they try to attract females with their voices or through other means. ( 160 words )

           
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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