What does the author want to say in these lines?

“I suppose the sets and the studio lights needed the girls and boys to be made to look ugly in order to look presentable in the movie”

(Please have a look at the image I have attached, which actually contains the text from which the line is taken.Please note that the word “pancake” refers to make-up in the text. Thanks to all)

In this sentence I have 2 questions –
First, what does the author want to say by saying “needed the girls and boys to be made ugly”? Is he saying this because he is against the idea of using make-up and personally thinks that make-up makes people ugly? If not, then what does else does he want to say?

My second question is that, why are boys and girls needed to look ugly because of the sets and studio lights? What is the connection of sets and studio lights with them being needed to look ugly in order for them to look presentable in the movie?

Thanks to all, whoever sees this or thinks of answers for me 🙂
enter image description here


In the early days of movies the monochrome film they used was notoriously sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum, including ultraviolet, to such an extent that clouds in the sky didn’t show on the film at all. As skin tones are at the red end of the spectrum humans appeared darker than was natural, and uneven skin tones looked dirty. To overcome this actors wore heavy white (or orange if they wanted to appear dark-skinned) greasepaint-and-powder make-up, painted on eyebrows, and eye make up for definition, and hence appeared ‘ugly’ to the human eye but looked good to the camera.

Find some background here and here.

Source : Link , Question Author : Rohit Shekhawat , Answer Author : Roaring Fish

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