Some women outline their lips in blissful ignorance. They can create a pink pout, darken their lashes with mascara, or add color to their cheeks without a second thought. Others peer at their reflections in the mirror and see . . . Charles Darwin.
Darwin's the guy who first suggested that beauty might have evolutionary significance. He figured humans naturally selected partners who looked fit for breeding to insure survival of the species. Women would seek men with strong jaws and testosterone-fueled muscles who could beat back a saber tooth tiger, provide a cool cave for the family and maybe even afford the latest model wheel. Men, in turn, would look for women with wide-eyes, full-mouths and figure eight shapes that implied youth and fertility.
But species are made up of individuals who want to survive for themselves. The zebra running at the edge of the herd when the lion stalks is not thinking, "I'll take a hit for the team. Go stripes!" More likely, she is thinking something along the lines, "Run! Run! Out of my way! Run!" And, finally, "Oh expletive!"
Humans are no different.
So a wise woman, sensing her personally precarious position on the outskirts of the proverbial herd, figured a little wild berry stain on the lips might give her an edge on the competition. And, for a while, it worked. But other women soon grew hip to the berry trick. So an ingenious woman discovered she could smear a bit of soot across her lids and achieve a wide-eyed appearance. The next thing she knew, everyone was wearing lid soot so she searched for the next big thing. And so it went until a few thousand years later, Estee Lauder responded with 278 shades of lipstick.
Biologist Leigh van Valen dubbed this constant evolutionary struggle of personal survival as "Red Queen Principle" for the character in Lewis Caroll's book "Through the Looking Glass." The Red Queen must run as fast as she can just to stay in the same place. To get ahead, she has to run twice as fast. Spring makeup trends will help women pick up the pace.
Do it for Darwin.
Vivian McInerny: email@example.com