..::..::..:: INTRODUCTION ::..::..::
I was in Metro Books the other day and spied this book on the shelf, 『正妹的心机彩妆术』and it caught my attention because I didn’t have a clue what the title meant. I could fathom each character but not when grouped together as a whole statement. I also quickly flicked through the interior of the book and grasped the idea behind it. Anyways, here’s my attempt at a personal translation of the title:
正妹 ~ all girl, or top chick [i.e. whole younger sister]
心机 ~ self-motivated [i.e. heart machinery, or heart functions]
彩妆 ~ multi-faceted or multi-hued [i.e. varied look]
术 ~ skill
So, finally it concludes that I thought it meant: “The all girl guide to self-motivated and multi-faceted artistry”, but it wasn’t clear that it was about beauty and cosmetics in particular, which is exactly what it is about.
Here is what I thought in more detail:
正 – I think the notion of 正 is that it signifies whole, correctness, uprightness and even straight-up (i.e. no frills and plain). But that does not mean it is necessarily complete, wholly right, righteous, nor for beginners. A common misbelief, I feel, is that straight-up information and teaching is for beginners to receive. Beginners need more frills to enhance their lack of, and even empty, sphere of knowledge in this particular area. 正 therefore, appears to be for those more advanced, perhaps at intermediate level.
妹 – means younger sister, a young girl or in English the colloquial term might be ‘chick’.
心机 – the literal translation of ‘heart machinery’ suggests the internal workings of the heart i.e. what the heart is made of, what it contains and maybe that suggests passion and desire? In Chinese culture there is a saying of ‘calculations of the heart’ or ‘memories of the heart’ or ‘to remember and recall by heart’, but there is also the meaning of ‘focus’ and ‘concentration’ that comes from wanting, willing and daring to do something that perhaps your rationale of brain and education suggests you are not able to do. I would interpret this to mean ‘self-motivation’.
彩妆 – the literal translation is “varied view” or even “multiple looks”.
To 化妆 means to dissolve the view of yourself i.e. sometimes it is not to your advantage to put the whole of yourself on display, especially when facing many different people on a regular basis e.g. for customer-facing work.
To 化装 means to dissolve the packaging and perhaps to show the real you, that would be for those who have developed misunderstanding as they’ve had to rise to the challenge of facing others in society i.e. to face society and others is a higher challenge for them. 装 contains the characters: slice, scholar and clothing i.e. a slice of scholarly clothing, which is a form of pretentious clothing intended to allow you to work at a higher level.
Whereas those who 化妆 and need to dissolve parts of themselves when facing others in society means that they need to take this opportunity to enjoy the lighter, even nicer customer-facing work for them since they have higher social skills embedded within them now. Some might call this breeding i.e. nature plus nurture have enabled them to become more innate at facing a variety of people on a daily basis, but they may have to work on the professional manner. These people, even though they do customer-facing work, are skilled enough to also do other, more behind-the-scenes work too.
Whereas those who 化装 tend to do only one or the other i.e. either front-of-house or back-of-house.
彩色 means colourful, where 色 means colour and 彩 means full, or more accurately ‘varied’ or ‘many’. Thus we have ‘varied/many colours’ i.e. colourful. So 彩 on it’s own may mean varied, or multiple. To some this would mean shallow or lack of depth. For many, the notions of ‘generalist’ or ‘multi-faceted’ have negative connotations of ‘know a little about a lot, but not a lot about anything’ which leaves people hungry or frustrated when seeking information. Well, go get a book or encyclopaedia!
Just as an aside, let’s look at different meanings of colour on the lips:
嘴唇 means mouth lips
唇色 means lip colour, often your own natural colouring
唇膏 means lip cream or lipstick
润唇膏means moisture lip cream i.e. lip balm
So what on earth is 唇彩? It’s something for the lips that show variety. Lip gloss? Maybe it’s for those who have multiple lips? As in layers of speech and talk? That is, it often only suits those who have much to say on many levels. Really? I don’t know, go try for yourself. Maybe beauty isn’t as shallow as all that after all…
术 — 技术 means artistic skill, 描述 means creative skill (note the grass sprouting from the field i.e. fertility). So 术 means skill?
So after all that, it seems to me, that cosmetics are an aid to expressing or repressing yourself, to expanding or constricting yourself. To quicken or slow yourself. To make-up for any weaknesses or losses you might have, or to cover-up any strengths or excesses you might have that show on your facial form. This allows a type of visual consistency when dealing with people, as well as restricting confusion by covering up certain aspects of yourself and framing other aspects to determine what you are when facing many people.
This is particularly important for work, when those with varying backgrounds and educational qualifications are working together.
Examples of issues that exist when there is a cross-sectional team in one place facing many different people:
Who does what, when and why? <—this can cause great confusion if your visual self-expression misses the point and causes delays.
Who gets promoted first? <—will you miss out or will others be broken by excessive responsibilities?
Who is actually very weak in real working experience, but grounded in theory? <—who do you work with best and who can you communicate with most effectively?
Who is strong with people but poor with working standards? <—who needs to be spotted for further training?
Who is good with selling but sells to the wrong people? <—who is confused about the business objectives?
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…
Why must we communicate these issues better and why don’t we just say these things or type it out on a piece of paper and hand it to our reporting senior to sort out for us?
Because life is life and those that know need to hurry up and get to where they need to be going, but first they must muck it out with others on the ground. And those that need to hang around for longer shouldn’t get mixed up and herded away with the others when they are getting promoted away to other areas – you haven’t finished where you are yet!
Don’t think that a promotion means that those people stop working on the ground, because sometimes they come back but with greater and bigger roles that include time on the working floor – thus, this needs to be expressed in their look so others can tell at a glance what is going on. And those who should be on the ground sometimes also go elsewhere for higher-level challenges to enhance their skills for greater effectiveness when they return to their original roles.
An important thing to remember is that if you want greater opportunities in customer-facing roles you need be approachable i.e. not too high and mighty and not too lowly. Look as if you are willingly and ably useful and helpful at the drop of a hat.
Often those who have studied much, end up with smaller, more fragile and vulnerable eyes due to over-use. But if you are not using your more studious self in your work, then you have to show this in your body language, your approach to people skills and your facial form i.e. you may use eye widening and eye enlarging cosmetic artistry. This often communicates i.e. expresses, that you are present and using real life skills rather than academic studies and theories. You may find that customers won’t approach you if they think they’re going to get an academic answer to their real life question. This means you miss out on real life working experiences, while your other colleagues get way too much i.e. there is a disproportionate spread of working experience.
For example, in a bookstore you might expect the more helpful shop assistants to be bookish because you might need help in choosing which books to read. However, it depends on the clientele and their personalities and who they get on with. So, for clientele with more sociable skill sets they’ll need to have more extroverted book selections and personalities on offer as assistants. However, a bookstore is a place of contemplation, thoughts and generally subdued actions. The last thing you want is a hyper-active, jumpy-jumpy assistant with bags of energy telling you everything there is to know about everyone else while you are to trying to choose a book. It is not a place for the shop assistants to demonstrate excessive energy and party looks, so they would need to enhance the side of the themselves that is bookish or studious and reduce the more socially energetic side of themselves. They would need to demonstrate this through self-expression in looks, action and language.
OFF ON A TANGENT
This means that cosmetics are important to be able to manipulate correctness of form when facing others so that we may receive better opportunities to move forwards.
However, whereas looks and aesthetics can be more clearly categorised and defined in the West, looks carry greater, and deeper consequences in Asia.
Some call this ‘face feng shui’ and it is not superstition, but rather age old traditions of self-expression, self-knowledge and self-awareness, resulting in widely acknowledged symbolisms and signs of correctness of interactions.
It shows higher knowledge and appreciation of varied communication between a range of people – this speeds up exchanges, especially in a busy, crowded city. Remember, a prolonged exchange is not always better. Protraction can require greater skill and consideration.
The uniqueness of this knowledge creates a need for it to be widely acknowledged (akin to significant monetary currency).
It enables a better connection between strangers. An almost instantaneous connection even before the interaction begins.
Maybe even connection at first sight… but no, we are not talking about love at first sight, just a way of eliminating too much strangeness, rarity and foreignness in large cities. That is not to say it is a way to eliminate strangers.
My ultimate choice in interpretation of the book’s title? Well, I didn’t go for what I initially decided, instead I ended up with two choices…
『正妹的心机彩妆术』1. The all-girl guide to the artistry of
the multiplicity of expressive looks
2. Top Beauty Tricks to express the
Multi-faceted and Self-motivated Chick
A step by step guide on expressing the self-motivated beauty
by using these 62 grooming tips to solve the limitation of facial form
– all it takes is 10 minutes to bring out the desirable hues!
What follows is a section that I interpreted from the book about oily skin, a skin type that I have personally found to be one of the most complicated to solve.
“EMERGENCY REPAIR PRE-COSMETIC APPLICATION :
Clean, Fresh and Translucent Complexion for Oily Skin
Here is a lesson in a money-saving trick to eliminate the problem of long-term over-production of sebum and enlarged pores, which uses the theory of heat expansion and cold contraction. On waking first thing in the morning, use warm water to wash your face then splash with cold water.
Warm water allows the pores to expand, allowing the skin to more easily expel the excess sebum and grime produced overnight. Cold water then shrinks the pores to maintain a smooth, fresh quality of skin.
Follow this morning ritual with a pore-shrinking or oil-reducing skin nutrient product, which should leave your skin feeling fresh and not sticky. These products are intended to support your skin’s moisture-balance.
Avoid using overly-heated water to avoid damaging the skin. ”
I like this idea, but my blackheads and grime are super-duper and very attracted to me and my skin and often refuse to budge… when I stop going out so much then I will remember this top trick and use it to save my budget, time and energy.
“ ON POINT :
a lecture on fundamental perspective
A humid environment (i.e. damp heat) plays havoc on the skin. The worldwide situation of climate change is making the temperature rise linearly. With each 1℃ rise in temperature, the skin produces 5-10% more excretions. In such an environment, many people discover their skin speeds up sebum production even changing skin type from dry skin to oily or combination skin.
Long-term excess sebum not only clogs pores, but enlarges them. As the environmental humidity increases, the skin has no way of thoroughly expelling and evaporating its sweat as its cooling system is sabotaged. Thus, all the skin’s excretions build-up on the skin’s surface and in the epidermis causing bloating and clogged pores, even condones, pimples, blemishes and uneven skin tone, resulting in eternal agony.”
What could be worse about these kind of sub-tropical environments? Well, the heat puts you off doing anything active or even disables you from being active and thus your cardiovascular health suffers and sufficient physical circulation is very beneficial for good skin, but some might argue that the sauna effect of the humid environment can balance some of this out – hmmm… really not convinced. Humidity puts your body under strain in many ways. Anyway, in sub-tropical cities, there is a device called air-conditioning – hallelujah!
“ OIL CONTROL PRODUCTS :
an oily chick’s best love
Actually, excess sebum is caused by a lack of moisture, so the problem cannot be resolved without hydration solutions. At the same time as fully boosting the skin’s moisture level, the use of moisture-locking fluids enables the cosmetic base to glide on and stay put. Also, don’t forget to apply pore-refining serums before the cosmetic base to prevent getting a bumpy skin surface. ”
Yeah, bumpy skin – argh!
Bumpy skin happens, but it most definitely is *not* the end of the world, girls. But bumpy skin plus an oily complexion needs professional help from a great facialist (beauty therapist) to put things to right.
Just to let you know, the beauty book had all sorts of ideas on make-up artistry to subtly alter your features, face shape and attractiveness to be more moderate and have more instant appeal and approachability.
That does mean a form of standardisation of look and there are criticisms about that, but for your working life it can only be a good thing. Hints of personality and understated personal statements, as opposed to loud and brash overstatements, put you in the running for the longer term.
Remember, a flash in the pan is original for a moment (and creates a memory, but you must stand back), but then it’s gone. Whereas a lingering glow from a candle lasts that much longer (creating memories and fills a room), with greater chance to generate much more appeal. But the decision is yours – make it work or not. Some people love a challenge.
Anyways… enough from me…
PS so I looked up 正妹 in the dictionary and it means working girl.
Is a working girl a top chick? Is a working girl an all-girl kind of gal?
I’d say yes.