Monday, July 5, 2010

To wear make-up, or not to wear make-up

I have a confession to make. I am vain. And I don't like to be seen in public without make-up. I probably started wearing it when I was 12 or 13, and haven't gone many days without it. As I've gotten a little older, I've started to question the use of make-up. I mean, it's pretty silly that girls feels like they have to put harsh chemicals on their faces to fit into a mythical idea of beauty. It's sad. Even though I use all-natural beauty products, the question I have to ask myself is why? Why do we try to hide? A man's worth isn't defined by whether he nearly stabs his eyes out every morning with an eye pencil to make them "stand out". Why are we held to a different standard, and why do we give in? I know it's what I've grown up with. I've never known anything different.

And if we are going to be really transparent (no make-up here), I am sometimes afraid of being viewed as one of "those" feminists. You know the stereotypes. The all-natural (considered unattractive) chewy feminist who MUST be a lesbian.... and probably hasn't looked in a mirror since the Second Wave.

It's an inner-feminist struggle that I have been wrestling with, and haven't fully concluded. Cognitive dissonance. I just haven't been able to let go of make-up. It makes me feel so much more comfortable, and pretty, and commodified...(hah).

I fear that people will write me off.

As crazy.

Maybe I am a little on the fringe. But all I'm asking is, why do we wear make up? Sometimes I think we don't even stop to think about it.


Momma Rhyne said...

Gosh, sometimes I wish I never started wearing makeup in 9th grade. Because everyone is so used to me wearing it, if I don't, I look like I got hit by a truck. LOL. But with 3 kids, now I only go full out for church. All other days are just mascara and bronzer, no time to put it on when my kids are the only ones who see me (and hubbY) and no time to take it off. I say ditch it, you are gorgeous!!

the thrifty ba said...

im 39, 2 young boys and i only leave the house with out make up to work out (5am). i feel like i can handle anything when i look my best.
i think each woman needs to find what works for them.

tessica said...

i struggle with the same thing...i like how i look with makeup
but somedays feel as though i am not giving myself enough credit for how i look without it
(i know that sounds completely narcissistic and i am not saying i am some looker, just that why not appreciate the unique look i have)

Unknown said...

Believe it or not, I'm pretty much the exact opposite of everyone. I wear make up for special occasions, but for just about everything else, I don't even bother putting it on. It's just easier. But I've never cared as much for outer appearances. I dress to be comfortable, I hardly wear jewelry, and my hair is just blown dry- no styling.

Make up feels gross to me. If I wear it, it's the first thing to come off when I get home. Sometimes even before the uncomfortable shoes.

I don't think you should worry about other opinions when you go sans make up. I've been asked about why I don't wear it, but I don't think anyone's ever made an assumption. And you're honestly too beautiful and feminine for someone to stereotype you as THAT feminist. Honestly, I think for the most part most people don't really notice it.

Anonymous said...

I use make up when I want to, but Skin Deep is a great guide to making sure whatever cosmetics you use are safe:

Anonymous said...

I don't look at the use of make-up as feminist or not. As an artist, I look at the use of make-up as making art on my face, in a way. Not that I'm painting pictures on my face to go to the office, but, I don't know... It is a means of expression to me. Which lipstick I choose, whether I go with black, eggplant, or flashy teal eyeliner, a subtle sparkle to my glow or a more reserved powder finish... It is all about my mood, where I am going, what I am doing. Do I want to look retro rockabilly today, or gothic chic? Punk rock grrrrl or vintage Hollywood starlet?

Granted, I am also vain and don't leave the house without it on, either. However, it is just fun to play with, to experiment, to play with different looks from different times. And come on, I just love those drag queen lashes. They really know how to glue'em on and it's just fabulous fringe!

Sheena Louise Roetman said...

I don't wear makeup because I don't like it. I hate the way it feels and the way it looks on my skin. And it freaks me out--Putting all that stuff on your face can't be good for your skin, and it's not! It causes breakouts!

That said, sometimes I'll wear eye makeup. Because I like the way it looks. Not because Ryan likes it (he doesn't, actually) or because I feel like I have to wear it or that I have to look a certain way.

I think you should wear it if you like it, and to hell with everyone else! And if you don't like it, then don't wear it! I'm glad you wear all-natural makeup though, because the chemicals really do freak me out. ;)

Tia Colleen said...

Over the past 6 months, I've stopped wearing makeup completely. I don't have time to put it on. I like the way my freckles can breathe without it. And mostly, I never leave the house.

I wore some mascara and some lip gloss (which is, ya know, next to nothing) a few weeks ago, and my husband was like "WOW, you look gorgeous!". Who knew that gloss and mascara could be such a big deal?

I like to have it around, in case that I do want to wear it. But I also like choosing not to :)

Cassie Bustamante said...

hi caroline! i don't wear much make-up in general. in the summer i use lip gloss, bronzer, and mascara and am good to go! lately i am thinking a lot about the chemicals and carcinogens in make-up and beauty products and have started switching everything over to all natural- like burt's bees. i plan to switch over what little make up i do wear to physician's formula for the same reasons. i think it's healthier for us, better for the environment, and honestly, we all need a little more confidence. we're women, we're beautiful, and we shouldn't hide it behind excessive make-up.

Corinne said...

Every several months I get the urge to play with eye makeup and start wearing it on a daily basis...that usually lasts a week. I just can't get used to it, putting it on and looking different. I wear foundation every day, y'know, to smooth things out a bit, but that's all. I think makeup can be fun, but I like not being tied to it. I think I must be the only girl I know that doesn't wear it.

ShanaM said...

I hardly ever wear makeup. I have rather good skin, which helps.
I sometimes put cover up on the dark circles under my eyes, and mineral powder but that is it.
I think I look at it like, 'who am I trying to impress?' and since I need to impress NO one then why bother.

I think feminism is more about being yourself, without playing into anyones idea of who you should be so if you want to wear makeup ... then go for it.

Anonymous said...

I don't wear make-up. It irritates my eyes, takes up time, MONEY and it smudges because I never learnt to wear it properly.

I also only shave my legs when I feel like it, because it makes ME feel better. And I wear shorts A LOT...

I honestly don't care what people think. I am more comfortable when people like me for myself (sans make-up and in baggy t-shirts) than when I'm dolled up and in something tight. Make up makes me feel MORE self-concious, and I guess that's probably the opposite of most girls out there.
My sister wears make-up, and so does my mother. So is it society that teaches girls to wear make-up, or your female role-models growing up? How did I escape?
I'm glad I did though :)

jen said...

This is so funny, because I've been waging the opposite debate with myself lately. I've never worn it but lately I've been feeling like my skin just looks old and have been thinking about starting. But don't want to...mostly for the same reasons you talked about.

Anonymous said...

I don't think wearing make up is or is not an affront to our gender identity. For sure, I can see both sides of the argument here. It doesn't sound like your motivation to wear make up is to fulfill a beauty ideal, as much as to feel confident in your own skin. That's one of the same reasons that people work out, or choose their clothes or jewelry.

It may sound silly, but you could always wear make up as a sort of rebellion against the unpleasant stereotypes against feminism.
Part of being effective as a communicator is unavoidably intertwined with appearance. You would not take a photography class from a teacher who is awful at taking pictures. You do not want to eat food made by someone who refuses to eat it himself or herself. I think people are less likely to engage in thoughtful conversations and give as much credence to a person who looks like they just rolled out of bed vs. someone who appears put-together. I think a lot of people associate a put-together appearance with a put-together mind. I’m not saying that being attractive is actually equated to trustworthiness at all, but I think it’s a subconscious assumption people make.

If you’re confident and comfortable in your make up, you’re probably a better communicator and more at peace. Make up would be a trade off for you only if you put it on knowing that your intentions are anti-feminist.

Basically, all of that to say, I think it really depends on intention.

Also, BarbieGirl, I like your point about self expression. 

Unknown said...

i am a chronic makeup wearer as well. i recently had LASIK eye surgery and couldn't wear eye makeup for a week and i thought i was going to die! i just feel better and more confident when i have my mascara on. but i am gradually getting more comfortable without it...

Vanessa said...

I am also vain and I also probably haven't had a make-up free day in years! Well, maybe not that long, but I wear make-up most days, even if I don't go anywhere.

I know why.

I use it to accentuate what I like about my face. Not to conceal (unless my skin decides to go through puberty), not to hide much, but to highlight what I like. My big brown eyes 'pop' more when I put on the right shadow and mascara. I have full lips and lipstick shows them off.

If you've got it, flaunt it, and for me, make-up helps that. :-)

Ash said...

i cant do a day without an eyeliner. everyone got their own choices and i would have loved to wear more make-up everyday but my sleep is more dearer to me. hehehe

~ash's mum
(i'm following ya! :))

kristina dutton said...

i think the only thing my mother has ever taught me since i was a kid was to "never leave the house without make-up, i don't care if you're wearing pajamas, don't you leave without mascara!"

Laurie said...

I think as long as you personally feel make-up is a personal choice and not a society-placed requirement, make-up can be a great way to feel feminine and beautiful.

I had similar thoughts last semester and decided to go a set amount of time without any make-up. It broke me of my fear of going make-up free and helped me appreciate my own natural beauty...

Granted, I had everyone asking me if i was sick or tired for the first few days, but after that everyone got used to it (including me!) and accepted it. It was through my "make up fast" that i started wearing make up because I wanted to.. not because other people would notice or think differently of me.

The Shrub said...

Hi Caroline,
I just wanted to drop by to let you know how much I Looove your blog, and have passed on two awards to you! You can see them here:

Have a great day!

Camila said...

i am probably a little younger that you but recently i found myself withuot my BIG make up bag in my purse, and had to be without it.
I realise i look better with it but i felt a little confort in not using it everydayand having to cary it around with me.
if you want to try and stop using, you should start ignoring some of it. liek the lipstick or the eye shadow.
i used to love to put some blush in my cheeks but my boyfrind actually hinted me so many times that he doenst like the smell that i decided to not use with him, which is easier. he prefers my true face, so i started to think and changed my mind about make up. I use it now to go out, like mascara and black line over the eye to look vintage. but not much more.
But I still like to put some mascara everyday.
we, feminist or not, have the strenght to free ourselfs of the necessity and do it for fun and wellbeing. =) you are pretty , you do not need too much make up.. i guess. i dont want to look like marie antoinette anymore. =)
love your blog. regards from brazil

Snark said...

"A man's worth isn't defined by whether he nearly stabs his eyes out every morning with an eye pencil to make them "stand out". Why are we held to a different standard"

Jesus. Hyperexaggeration, much? Do women nearly stab their eyes out every morning with eye pencils? I've never heard of such a thing. Not a single woman I know has ever stabbed her eye out with an eye pencil or even come close.

On the other hand, I have to take a razor sharp blade to my face and neck five mornings a week. And, unlike eye makeup, I actually am required to look smart (i.e. clean shaven) for my job. There is no equivalent requirement on women to use an eye pencil. That is something you do because you want to do it, not because you have to do it. Try to recognise the difference; people tend to come across as spoiled brats when they can't.

And I have bled in my efforts to look the best I can. Shaving cuts are hardly uncommon. Especially since you're using a razor blade and not a goddamn soft pencil.

But hey - what about teh wimmin? Let's all drop everything and have a cuddle party for teh wimmin! Nobody else is allowed to be a victim of anything; but teh wimmin must be the victims of absolutely everything ever.

I'll tell you what, Mzzz. Feminist Housewife.

If you truly find it absurd that only women should wear makeup - if you truly can't perceive that there are differences between men and women which account for ... the differences between men and women, then you must also find it just as absurd that only men shave their faces every morning.

I therefore insist, in the interests of equality, that all whinging feminists shall have to take a razor blade to their faces each weekday morning. You must reach your quota of three visible cuts per week. Only then shall you be permitted to complain about having to alter your appearance in the morning. I can think of nothing more equal and fair than this, and I am sure you will agree - since you believe that 'men' and 'women' are two words referring to the same thing.

Katie said...

In my opinion it all comes down to whether you're using make up in the right way. If make up is something nice you do for yourself to pamper yourself and make you feel prettier, go for it, it's no different from painting your nails or doing your hair in a cute way.

However, if you feel like you NEED make up to look pretty...that's just unhealthy, and has more to do with a poor self image.

In the end, it comes down to what makes you happy. Drawing 50's style cat eyes on myself with my spark-ly green eyeliner makes me feel like I can take on the world, because it brings out more of who I really am, and it makes me feel more confident.

And ultimately, isn't that what being a feminist is all about? Saying "Hey, I'm gonna do whatever makes me happy, not because you think I should/shouldn't do it, or because this is what everyone else does, but because it makes ME happy"?

But that's just my opinion,
Katie =)