Yesterday Illamasqua announced their "Final Act of Self-Expression" collaboration with a London Funeral directors to provide makeup artistry services for the recently deceased's funerals. The intention I'm sure is to offer a service which would allow those for whom makeup played an important in their identity to be made up in a way which they would have had done whilst alive. However, I am not convinced that this is coming across in a way in which they intended, it does seem in poor taste, namely because many of the people who would want this service are young or at least much younger than the average life expectancy. It is not 'natural' in Western society for young people to die, it is not common place to expect to lose a loved one so early on in life, so such deaths will ordinarily be extremely traumatic, if it had been a service offered through funeral directors, it would be fine or if this scenario were really commonplace it wouldn't seem as bad.
My primary objection comes from the fact that this could create an unrealistic expectation as to how the dead person will look. The model in the images advertising this is obviously alive and looks fantastic, much more like a sleeping character out of a fairytale than a corpse. Despite the common misconception, it is difficult to make the dead look alive, when my Mum died I was present and the change was instantaneous, the body she had once lived in looked like that of a stranger and no amount of make up would have been able to change that. As a result we decided that the coffin lid should be shut and no viewing allowed, although viewings are fairly common where we come from in Scotland (there were viewings at my Grans funeral, at my great-Grans twenty years ago and at all but one (out of necessity, rather than disapproval) of my families funerals in Scotland). Opinions varied as to the success of this but my Mother had said that my great Gran "looked like a vampire-it was horrific", she had said that it wasn't down to the make up or and lack of skill on the part of the funeral parlour. I think this could be selling an unrealistic expectation to someone who is dying and to relatives who have just been bereaved.