How do you respond when someone says that makeup perpetuates the idea that people need to look prettier?

How do you respond when someone says that makeup perpetuates the idea that people need to look prettier? Or that makeup makes people feel ugly or degrades them?

I try to liken it to wearing clothes that fit, choosing flattering hairstyles, clothes, and the like. Makeup is also more than purely about looking prettier for many; it can be an art form as well as a form of self-expression.

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For my everyday 5 min look it is more about good grooming rather than trying to become prettier. I am fine with the way I look naturally. I love makeup but my face looks better with very little of it on. I like oil controlled skin, brushed natural full brows, moisturized lips and defined lashes……..basic grooming.

Makeup is something different for everyone. I think the glossiness of the fashion industry and hollywood perpetuates the need for pretty and might add perfection.

This is something I have been wrestling with for a while -if I don’t care what people think why do I feel I need to wear make up? Can I bear not to be considered attractive?
Not around the house but definitely for work. I am 57 and if I don’t wear make up people ask me if I’m ok or that I don’t look well. A little bit of make up makes a big difference. My children notice and say you look nice. I am thinking of experimenting during Lent, giving up make up and see how I feel going bare faced- well maybe a bit of concealer!
Then there’s the question of hair colouring – I colour my hair so that I don’t look like a badger, is it vanity, a bid to look younger , look attractive mmm food for thought…..

I’ve never been really interested into conventional ideas of ‘beauty’; I’m not tall, not pale, my face is not really pretty. I renounced many years ago to the idea of ‘fitting into the beauty standards’. But I LOVE makeup. I love the way it changes my appearance. It can change my features into something I like, be it something society considers beautiful or not. I’m also an Arts Major, and I LOVE COLOR. Makeup has inspired many of my works, and my makeup has been inspired by art; it’s like taking your artistic work anywhere you want to. It makes me feel confident not because I feel ‘pretty’, but because I feel myself.

I like to tell them that makeup isn’t just for vain/pretentious purposes.
It’s a form of art, expression, even a way to feel better, but most important is to embrace ourselves as pretty with bare face or makeup on.
The outside is something constantly changing, the inside is what define us.
Putting makeup on for me is a therapy itself 🙂

This is a great question!
I’m a proud feminist, and I am very used to friends giving me odd looks and saying I’m being contradictory for liking make up, which some of my stauncher friends say is just a patriarchal tool that is inhibiting our true beauty. I think make up often does the opposite – it actually encourages female expression and creativity, domains which have been very shut off to us in the past. I hate all this ‘You can’t be a feminist! You wear make up!” rubbish. So I can’t believe in women in Sudan getting the vote because I wear lipgloss? I can’t be disgusted that men are paid on average 30% more for the same job as women because I love a smoky eye? I don’t have the right to oppose out dated views on victim blaming and the fact that in Britain there are approximately 7,500 rapes reported a year and of those a pathetic 3% ends in a conviction because I know which blusher suits my skin tone?
Nah didn’t think so. I REST MY CASE YOUR HONOUR! 😉

Not to mention, it’s just yet another way in which women are kept down, in my opinion. If you can be discredited as a feminist for liking makeup, then you don’t pose a threat. And those who want to discredit you will always find a way to try. Be who you are and be proud.

I don’t like it when someone says they NEED make-up to feel good about themselves. What you want to rock is what should make you feel good about yourself, regardless of public opinion.

Whenever my boyfriend asks me why I wear that much make-up and why I think that I need all that stuff, I just say that I don’t think that I need it at all. I really don’t mind going out without anything on my face, I just love doing my make-up and I just feel a little bit more comfortable with make-up on. Doing my make-up in the morning is kind of a relaxing moment for me. 🙂

I say it is true because we are all narcissists in a way, and beauty addicts are very often so. They first ask ” WHEN is this to be launched ” and sometimes ” HOW are you “? I mean WE need to feel prettier but everyone has their good and personal reasons too, I too. I don’t know what’ behind the curtain or scene but I know narcissism does play a role in our love or addiction for beauty products.

I’d say that looking our best (or trying to look our best) is a way of not only showing that we feel good about ourselves but also a way of showing respect for others, that we put an effort to look good for them too. It gives self-respect and respect for others as well.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be bothered to respond to someone who would ask me that, because it’s so hypocritical. The ones who think make up degrades you and all that stuff don’t have a clue about how genetic/biologic attraction laws work and why we choose certain types of faces/bodies and reject others. Moreover, this people are also the ones who also feel attracted by good looking people, like everybody else, so they don’t practice their own doctrine.

I explain the inherent need of most animals to clean and present themselves well. I give examples of human adornment, from a historical and cultural view. Then, I let them know that it’s a matter of expression for me, personally. Finally, I let them know that no one that I know judges anyone for their desire to wear makeup or their desire not to.

It’s kind of a defensive world view. I’ve heard it before and this approach, oddly, works best for me.

I agree with them first, a little bit. Then they are more willing to listen to the rest of my view on make up. So I tell them that is it also a form of self expression. Everyone knows I like colorful things, so I tell them lipstick doesn’t make me prettier, but it makes me more colorful. And I love that.

I think cosmetic company’s advertisements fool people into thinking that their photoshopped perfection is possible with their brand of makeup, I feel that is an delusional mindset. But I feel that makeup is something that helps me feel confident and lets me change my look every now and again. Nothing wrong with that.

While I totally understand where they’re coming from with regards to feminism and women, I think it’s the attitude of why you wear makeup that matters.

Frequently I hear women say that they have to wear makeup to be pretty, to look good for someone, and I think that that’s possibly perpetuating the idea that you have to wear makeup to be beautiful. That being said, if you’d like to wear makeup to please others you most definitely can, I’m not dismissing people who do.

On the contrary, I know lots of women who wear makeup because it makes them feel pretty, gives them confidence, or allows them to express themselves. Personally, I tell people I wear makeup because it’s fun and it makes me feel good. Taking care of your body either with makeup or skin care is taking care of yourself.

I completely agree. Makeup is just another form of expression, and the only time it… makes me sad is when I hear women who say they can’t even leave the house without any on. I know some people who can’t buy milk from a corner store without putting on their whole face, but for the most part, most people I know wear it just to change things up and feel colorful. 😀

LOVE LOVE LOVE your reply, Christine! ‘it can be an art form as well as a form of self-expression. ‘ You are so much more eloquent than I’ll ever be: I’m totally stealing this for the next person to talk about my makeup.

I think we can agree that you should wear more or less fitting clothes to work, does that mean you think women who don’t wear make up don’t deserve jobs as well?

I think Christine meant fitted, like so they followed your silhouette and flatter your figure, not just clothes that are neither sagging nor have you bursting through.

As far as I know, most people choose close that flatter their shapes – it has nothing to do with wearing clothes that are tighter/looser, only that people often choose clothes they feel are flattering on them. I don’t know where your comment re: makeup is somehow relevant to whether you get a job? I don’t think I mentioned anything regarding work or jobs.

Yay!!! You posted my question! I feel special now. LOL. My friend said: “bras are not necessary…and yet we prefer to wear them anyway because they keep our boobs from sagging and looking ugly… the same can be said for make-up.”

I wouldn’t use the word ugly the way she used it, but I do think makeup can give us a boost (kind of the way bras give us a boost).

She’s spot on though. Unless it’s to prevent back pain from large breasts or doing sports, bras are completely unnecessary, but women still wear them because society has become accustomed to breasts being held up and sticking out like that. Natural breasts, which tend to hang, are seen as “saggy”, which is a shame.

I’m ideologically opposed to “base” garments like push-up bras, body shapers and things like that for the same reasons I’m ideologically opposed to “base” makeup: because if enough people are doing it, it gives a false illusion of what “normal” is and sets unrealistic expectations for the uninformed.

“Prettier” is a subjective state-of-mind. If the a specific colour or silhouette makes you feel at-your-best, go for it. Anything to help a healthy, positive state-of-mind.
Insecurity won’t be masked by any kind of makeup or clothing. Confidence is always “prettier” no matter how one packages it.

I roll my eyes… Well not really, but it is a question that irritates me. If we’re limiting ourselves to people (mainly women) who just wear make up to ‘look good’ (makeup artists seem to get a pass because their use of cosmetics carries the whiff of ‘art’), I get tired of the view that makeup is a more vapid pursuit than gaming, or reading, or painting or any other activity people do for pleasure.

I don’t want to go off on a rant (I think this question will unleash hell… lol) but, despite the mid 70s radical feminist dream that by now we’d all be wearing overalls and letting our armpit hair grow, I think many women want to ‘look nice’, for themselves, I don’t think that’s a sign of a repressive patriarchy any more than bathing or brushing your hair is. And if women wear makeup to please men, where’s the harm in that? We’re all slaves to others’ perception of our selves, and that’s not a wholly bad thing, it helps regulate social norms and shared values. All cultures have rituals of looking ‘good’, whatever that is perceived to be, and painting some stuff on your face to look ‘fresh’ is a much less extreme cultural ideal to aspire to than some others out there.

I actually give the cosmetics industry a bit more of a pass in the ‘body image’ wars, they sell an increasingly democratised product, that doesn’t require the user to starve themselves or remortgage the house to purchase. Anyone can wear makeup, it requires no long term investment and it washes off, so it can be adapted to suit your age/mood/occasion etc. If looking pretty is so meaningless (or harmful/brainwashed/foolish) why don’t we all just wear the same thing and never bathe?

>Rant over<

“I get tired of the view that makeup is a more vapid pursuit than gaming, or reading, or painting or any other activity people do for pleasure.”

I remember reading a quote about this that was more to do with fashion, but holds pretty true either way – that fashion/cosmetics are one of the few things that are mostly concentrated to women and female expression, but they’re belittled and treated as less worthy than other forms of expression.

And it kind of ruins the fun because then there’s more “practical” clothing/cosmetics that are pretty but nothing special and not enough mainstream experimental brands. 🙁

“despite the mid 70s radical feminist dream that by now we’d all be wearing overalls and letting our armpit hair grow, I think many women want to ‘look nice’, for themselves, I don’t think that’s a sign of a repressive patriarchy any more than bathing or brushing your hair is. And if women wear makeup to please men, where’s the harm in that? ”

Yes yes yes.

I was so offended in high school, when my self proclaimed feminist friend, myself, and a few others were talking about shaving habits. She shaved every couple days (and was seeing a guy), others shaved about that much or less (some were single, some not), and I shaved every time I showered, or basically every day. I was single, and this ‘feminist’ friend of mine said “Who are you shaving for?” with a snort.

Then your last point is also so ‘yes.’ What is wrong with wanting to look good for the other sex? As long as it doesn’t define your life or self worth (and I find most fashion and cosmetic forward people are VERY confident), why would it matter?

I just tell them that it is my personal preference and if they feel ugly because i’m wearing makeup they can take a hike. JK. But really i think it’s rude. Everyone does something different for themselves to boost their self esteem. Whether it be art, academics, books, makeup, clothes, shoes, or jewelry. We all take pride in ourselves differently and I don’t think it’s appropriate for anyone else to chime in.

I had this conversation with my co-workers yesterday, and I said exactly the same thing! It is about color and art, not about conforming to a pre-determined notion of beauty- but I wear almost no makeup (maybe bb cream and mascara most days) unless I have the time to do “art” on my face. I’d rather go bare-faced than go with something that I don’t feel adequately expresses creativity or my sense of aesthetic

it’s also called GROOMING: Individual animals regularly clean themselves and put their fur, feathers or other skin coverings in good order. This activity is known as personal grooming, a form of hygiene. Extracting foreign objects such as insects, leaves, dirt, twigs and parasites,[1] are all forms of grooming. Among animals, birds spend considerable time preening their feathers. This is done to remove ectoparasites, keep them in good aerodynamic condition, and waterproof them. To do that, they use the preen oil secreted by the uropygial gland, the dust of down feathers, or other means such as dust-bathing or anting. During oil spills, animal conservationists that rescue penguins sometimes dress them in knitted sweaters to stop them from preening and thereby ingesting the mineral oil which is poisonous. Felidae cats are well known for their extensive grooming. One reason advanced for such grooming is to remove all traces of blood and other matter so as to not alert prey with the scent. Cats groom so much that they often produce hairballs from the fur they ingest. (wikipedia)

My take is that lookism is real and makeup makes very little difference in perpetuating or curbing it. Lookist bias accounts for up to 17% less pay and fewer promotions, especially for women. Plus, the idea of “attractiveness” mixes a toxic intersection of racism, fatphobia, gender bias, sexism and classism. Cosmetics may reflect our cultural problems, but they don’t cause them. The idea that they perpetuate them is tricky, unless that statement is contextualized within all the other factors that perpetuate bias. Especially those with institutional authority. Passing the ERA would be much more helpful than swearing off L’Oreal.

On a personal level, I’ll be honest here: I’m ugly. I mean in the measure-my-symmetry-with-calipers way. Even at my thinnest and youngest, my flirting inspired embarrassment. Makeup or no makeup, there’s not much change. Makeup does make me feel better about myself. It allows me to leave the apt and face the world with less despair. Also, I have kickass skin and nails. I like makeup to emphasize these things, if for no other reason, to torment hotter people with acne and hangnails.

I think it’s interesting that the more I started using make-up, the more comfortable I became with my looks without it. I used to be one of those “can’t go outside without eyeliner and mascara” people but after I started experimenting with full make-up looks, I started to see my unmade-up face as just another variation.

I’m not totally sure of my point here other than to refute the claim that using make-up makes you feel worse about yourself. I gotta say I’m sick of the recent spate of tumblr photos featuring “nice guy” boys insisting that the only reason you wear make-up is to impress men and that they’re not like all those other jerks. Yeah, I love it when other people tell me what to do.

I feel the same way! I’ve also become more comfortable with my un-made-up face because using makeup has helped me realized that I have the potential to look a variety of different ways. Knowing that you can do something if you so choose is powerful.

I tell them to take a long walk off a short pier…

Well, not really.

I think it’s a ridiculous notion. The products themselves can be used in whatever way – if they want to have anger at society’s messages wrt appearance, bashing make up isn’t the way to do it. There are plenty of brands that are about expression rather than attractiveness, so instead of writing off all makeup and the expression that comes with it, why don’t they focus that anger on the parts of society that place emphasis on appearance over expression?

… did that even make sense?

Like it or not, biology perpetuates the idea that people need to look pretty. Just look towards nature, frequently it’s the prettier and flashier male that gets to mate with the female. Being pretty and flashy is a sign of health and good genes. There’s not much difference when it comes to human beings. Many external traits of our bodies are cues of health, fertility and good genes, and it’s only natural to be attracted to that. It’s how we’re built and how we’ve evolved to be.
Makeup doesn’t perpetuate that idea, our biology does. The pressure to be pretty would still exist even without makeup, beautiful clothes, etc. Makeup is merely one way to improve our chances at being chosen by a mate, but more than that I’d say to many of us it’s a means of self-expression, even a form of art.

Though it isn’t my opinion on the specific question, I really agree with this. And good skin, full lips, etc are signs of health, which make you look biologically good.

Washing your face, moisturizing, brushing your teeth, cutting your nails: that’s grooming, and we expect it of both men and women.

Makeup is not grooming. I don’t believe that makeup is necessary for a person to be beautiful or even socially acceptable, and I don’t like it when people judge women for skipping makeup.

That kind of attitude turns it into an obligation and sucks all of the fun out of it.

I like to think of makeup as jewelry for your face.

Does makeup perpetuate the idea that people need to look prettier? Often yes. The marketing does. But it doesn’t have to. You can fight back by skipping makeup, which I did for years, or you can fight back by enjoying makeup and breaking all of the “rules.”

I really love your comment! Makeup IS like jewelry for your face. And I both skip makeup on a regular basis, as well as love breaking all the rules! Wow! You’re like my kindred spirit ha ha

I think Makeup is about enhancing natural beauty and it’s fine for it to make you feel confident and pretty, but if you’re relying on it and feeling like you need it for self-esteem then that’s not great.

Depends on what type of makeup we’re talking about. Are we talking about the airbrushed, Hollywood-ized ideal of beauty that pressures women to starve, pluck, buff, inject, and make up themselves to be as beautiful as possible because they’re only fundamental value is their appearance? Sure. I’m in complete agreement.

But makeup that women choose to wear for themselves? No. People – especially men – who tell me they think makeup is a reflection of some kind of internal lacking infuriate me. It’s just another form of patriarchal patronizing packaged in a way to make it sound like empowerment. If a woman wears makeup to make herself feel better, then that is problematic, but makeup is the symptom, not the problem, of a society that consistently undermines women in order to drive sales. But wearing it because you want to, because you want to highlight what you already love about yourself…? I’ve always like Kevyn Aucoin’s philosophy that makeup is about transformation, about expression of the inner self, the self you want to portray. And that isn’t a female thing, it’s a human thing. Everybody wears the face they want others to see.

“It’s just another form of patriarchal patronizing packaged in a way to make it sound like empowerment. If a woman wears makeup to make herself feel better, then that is problematic, but makeup is the symptom, not the problem, of a society that consistently undermines women in order to drive sales.”

I wholly agree with you here. I think a lot of messages and conceptions are subversively (or overtly) oppressive to women. Funny how this conversation has become about feminism!

The worst are those people who come on to sites like this and slag everyone off for loving make up. I mean, I don’t do on Granola Girl websites and vomit my hate on them and their bare faces. The world is a big enough place for make up bunnies and non make up bunnies to coexist peacefully.

The problem isn’t that makeup exists or that individual people choose to wear makeup. The problem is the idea that people have to look a certain way to be attractive or even to present themselves in public at all. And that’s the fault of society, of advertising, and of people who think that their personal beauty standards are the only beauty standards that anybody should follow.

Anybody who blames the fact that makeup exists for pointless beauty standards is completely misplacing their objections. It is 100% possible to wear and love makeup and still not treat it as an obligation — and that’s the mindset people should have and promote. You do you!

(Also, in actual conversations with people who hate makeup, I often find out that their real objection is “things generally associated with women are dumb/gross/pointless” — which is, of course, sexism.)

I have a lot of male friends who don’t like makeup, and the general opinion I’ve heard is that they either don’t like the way it feels (when kissing and w/e) or that they feel that women are already beautiful and makeup is completely unnecessary.

I have a lot of male friends too and have also dated many men where they claim they hate makeup. These men I dated ended up being total and complete chauvinists and would expect me to ‘roll-over’ on command and not have an opinion. It goes both ways but unfortunately I do now believe there are A LOT of closet-chauvinists and misogynists out there because of the things they and other men I know have said. In jest and not.

Oh what bollocks. Society perpetuates this crap, makeup is just a tool we can choose to use (or not) as individuals see fit.

It is absolutely rage stroke inducing to me that women of all shapes, sizes and skin tones are expected to fit some sort of completely unrealistic and ever changing “ideal” and that their sole purpose is to be decorative, because ya know, women are actually functional human beings, looking pretty is not the sole reason for their existence.

I love makeup, LOVE IT. But I don’t put it on and then walk around with the mindset “Gosh, I hope I look acceptable to every random person I pass on the street today” because I have, you know, better things to think about.

I agree about the “idealized” standard of beauty – the one that dictates that large eyes are preferable to small ones; that a small, thin nose is “prettier” than a large broad one, etc.
Certain people are simply not born with features that fit the “mold.” Why *can’t* a large, broad nose be beautiful, for example?
It’s odd how variations in coloring are quite “acceptable.”
You won’t hear anyone saying, “You’d be pretty, if only your hair weren’t so dark!”

It’s an unpopular opinion, but I think it’s right. I didn’t wear makeup for years because I refused to believe that I needed to put a mask on my face to be pretty. I still refuse to wear foundation or full-coverage concealer because of it. Makeup for me is about putting colors on my face, and expressing myself, not to pretend that I have “flawless skin” or “natural beauty” or some BS like that. It actually bothers me that if I have blemishes or something like that, I’m expected to cover them up if I’m also wearing makeup. I do it because I don’t want to look bizzare–but the less “base” makeup I’m wearing, the better I feel–includng when I’m wearing bold makeup.

I think makeup is a tool we can use to express ourselves and make ourselves look or feel the way we want. For me personally, I prefer to cover up acne because I don’t like it, but for you, you’d rather not cover it up. Neither option is better than the other; It just depends on the individual person.

I also cover up acne because I don’t like it, but I also feel kind of guilty when I do. Because when it’s a lot it’s like, what else am I going to cover up about myself? Do I erase all my flaws because I’m scared of other people seeing my face? I suppose it’s trivial to a lot of people, but honesty and integrity are really important to my personal philosophy, and that includes being who I am and accepting my own flaws.

That, and I’m jealous that guys aren’t expected to cover up the flaws on THEIR faces.

I just wanted to weigh in here, When I was younger I was very sick and unfortunately suffered from an eating disorder, as a result of which I lost all my hair as well as a plethora of other long term side effects, however my hairloss is the most obvious physically. I choose to wear a wig due to lots of reasons, and I openly admit that fitting to society is one of them. I will add here that fitting into society is a natural human trait and I love reading the sheer amount of comments that say they don’t care about fitting in, perhaps that is consciously what they believe but instinctively not what we are programmed to do. When it comes down to it our “job” as humans is to survive and mate and produce offspring, the race would not have survived if everyone was an outlier who went off and did their own thing and didn’t find a mate etc. Anyway getting a bit sidetracked, my point is, most people would say that being bald is a flaw by your logic is you were in the same position as me you would not wear a wig-correct? and also by the same not, the fact that I do choose to wear a wig questions my “honesty and integrity”. I don’t want to be rude, but I find this a little offensive. The major reason that you feel comfortable not covering flaws on your skin is because so many people in the world have skin flaws and so many people don’t cover them up, so you’re not really standing alone. If you had a slightly less common flaw perhaps you would feel a little differently about whether or not covering up flaws is actually indicative of a persons personality/attributes/values/morals.

Ah, sorry about that, what I meant to say with my statement is that I’m more fixated and excessive with my ideas of “honesty and integrity” than most people are. I understand that I’m kind of extreme about it–and that doesn’t make me “better” than someone who chooses to wear foundation, it’s just something I must do to feel at peace with myself.

Responding to what you said, I do feel that there’s a distinction between small and big acts of defiance. I’d certainly think twice about standing out if what I did could get me harassed, or if it made me feel unbearably self-conscious. It’s about striking a balance and it’s a very personal decision.

As for the wig part, I don’t know how it feels like to be in that position, so I don’t know what I’d do. I probably would want to not wear a wig, in defiance of what other people think is beautiful (probably wear some kick-ass makeup and some big earrings or something to decorate myself), but realistically, at least some of the time I think I’d cave in and wear a wig, for the same reason I cover up my pimples when I’d rather not–because I’m scared of people’s opinions, even though I don’t want to be.

I think it’s not about looking prettier, or subtracting flaws, but if say, one day you wake up with a blemish, you can go back to your own ‘normal.’ Likewise for under-eye circles after a bad sleep.

Then of course there’s the addition of colour (lipstick, eyeshadow, etc)- clearly that isn’t ‘making you pretty’ compared to a natural look, it’s just fun, even if it’s pretty on its own.

At the end of the day, it’s not about looking prettier. Make-up is only to let you enhance you’re looks. It is no different than clothes or shoes. We all know that some woman were not blessed with the best in facial features, and even the ones that were are all eventually going to start loosing them either to age, smoking, sun exposure (or all of the above). No amount of make-up will ever bring them to societies definition of pretty. Even some models and celebrities that are my ideal of physical beauty are the very definition of ugly people in how they treat others and behave themselves. What’s important is confidence and being happy with yourself and the way you look. No one else’s opinion should matter to you if you have confidence and remember the very true saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Don´t respond, or simply answear them to mind their own bussiness. If you have to respond simply tell them to go out without showering, in their underwear, without brushing their teeth and hair, and be barefoot aswell. Make up is part of my personal grooming and hygiene routine nothing wrong with that 😀 .

I don’t think it’s makeup that perpetuates those attitudes – I think it’s sexism and a marketing culture that preys on people’s insecurities (men’s, too).

I think a lot has to do with how the individual views makeup, and what it can do.
If cosmetics are used as a fashion statement, as part of a “look,” and a means of highlighting positive attributes, I think it’s okay.
The trouble comes when a person starts feeling (as I did when I was younger) that she “needs” makeup to correct her “flawed” features; that her bare face is just not good enough.

I would say “Need to” no, but “want to” yes.

If you “Need” to look prettier you *need* to check yourself and your priorities.

With that said, what’s wrong with wanting to look like a better version of yourself?

I’d tell them that I don’t wear make-up to look pretty. For me, the act of putting on make-up is a ritual, and make-up itself, an art. I’m so much more at peace with myself ever since I started wearing make-up, not because I find myself prettier with it, but because staring at myself in the mirror for around an hour a day has been therapeutic.

I would previously actively avoid seeing myself in any mirror, and that didn’t do my confidence any favor. But by getting to know my facial features – and myself – a lot more, getting familiar with my big nose, my double chin, and my every blemish, blackhead, and imperfection, I’ve actually come to love rather than loathe myself. Now, I’m more confident than ever. I now enjoy going out and meeting new people — even when I’m not wearing make-up!

Love your comment! Well put! I hadn’t realized it, but now that you’ve said it, I think I too have become more comfortable with the way I look because I’ve studied my face as I’ve practiced wearing makeup over the past couple of years.

Alley Cat,
I think I can relate.
I’m 48, and when I was in my teens and 20s, I genuinely hated my looks, to the point that I had literal nightmares about being caught out in public without make-up.
My “epiphany” came when I was 36, and had a nearly fatal illness.
I had to spend four months in the hospital, without access to a speck of makeup. To my utter astonishment, I got tons of positive comments about my appearance. In fact, at one point my doctor refused to believe that I was having pains in my appendix, because (and this is a direct quote) Ididn’t “look sick enough to have appendicitis.” I had an emergency appendectomy hours later.
Once I got back on “the outside,” and started wearing makeup again, I took a totally different approach. Makeup is no longer a mask to hide “ugliness;” it’s a way to enhance and highlight my God-given beauty. Makeup is SO much more fun and rewarding now!

Exactly. I can understand why people would think make-up perpetuates the idea that people need to look prettier, especially when so many think of it as a “mask,” as you said, in which they can hide behind. (Frankly, though, if one wants to use make-up to look pretty, then so what? Let them use make-up as they please.)

But there’s something about using make-up to enhance your features so that you can interact with the world that way you want without feeling that you’re naked and ugly and lacking without it that’s so — so beautiful and liberating.

I think Albinwonderland said it best: even if someone is literally using makeup to hide their flaws, who cares? (That’s a sfw paraphrase.)

Saying that makeup is responsible for a huge socio-cultural norm such as women “having to be” attractive is femme-phobia and totally ridiculous.

I don’t think it’s the cause but it’s a contributing factor. I know when I was younger, I wondered why almost all the girls had such perfect skin, but I had pimples and bags under my eyes. Of course, they all just hid theirs under concealer leaving me to think that perhaps something was wrong with me.

Too true. I looked up to this girl when I was in my first year of high school (I was 13 at the time). I felt so gross because she had the most flawless beautiful tanned skin. I told one of my friends (who was right into the beauty-hair-skin scene due to her mothers job) and she just replied ‘you mean her FOUNDATION is flawless and beautiful.’

I say that is not only makeup that perpetuates this idea. Fashion, Book, Media, Social Manners etc and the feminine gender roles society place on us also perpetuates that women need to look prettier or tell us what would make women look prettier. This has been happening to women from the beginning of time, each woman must rise above this and choose what is right for themselves

Once I have made this statement, the person normally shut up and I get on with my life.

I say that “whatever makes you happy.” I personally have loved makeup since I was a child. I do find it a form of self expression and can honestly say that my “look” of the day can absolutely determine my mood. Some days I prefer to have the natural “girl next door” vibe, while on others I like to be the man eating temptress! lol Seriously, makeup is fun but not define me. It just makes me happy 🙂

I’m 4’11”, 100lbs, and in my mid twenties. All my life, because I have a “baby face” — big eyes, a small ‘button’ nose, and large lips — people have thought I was much, much younger than I really am. I know it sounds like a big time ‘first world problem’ (and it definitely is), but it leads to people not taking me seriously when I’m in leadership positions, like T.A.-ing for college courses, heading up panel discussions and applying for jobs. Without makeup, I look like a cute enough little kid. But, with a little blush, some contouring powder, a swipe of eyeliner, a hint of mascara, a touch of brow gel, and some power lipstick, I look more like a person my age. So, I don’t really take it seriously when people cut women down for wearing makeup. Makeup helps me communicate to other adults that I’m a professional in an academic field, which is pretty much the definition of empowerment.

Now that I am in my mid 40’s I consider myself a artist who chose to use makeup as my medium to create and my face “a canvas”. Every morning I so look forward to creating something.. anything. I am extremely comfortable in the skin that I am in. It’s the one time in the day where I get to really spend time with myself and become one with my spirit. I do not apply makeup to my face to look prettier but hey if that mind set is what “float one boat” -more power to you. I have other things to do with my time and life than to try to convince someone of reasons for wearing makeup.

I’m about as feminist as they come, and although I do think that the idea of making choices in a vacuum is not correct (we are ALL influenced by society to some degree!), the absolutes that many people subscribe to regarding makeup turn me off as well. Whether it’s “OMG you NEED TO wear makeup to look professional” or “OMG enjoying makeup means you are supporting the PATRIARCHY!” the efforts to constrain women’s choices rub me the wrong way entirely. (And it also manages to erase people who wear makeup but who do not identify as women…) If you enjoy makeup as an art form, awesome. If you don’t, that’s cool too. Finger wagging over individual choices when there are so many structural obstacles in place (sup wage gap) just seems pointless.

My initial reaction is “that’s bollocks” (and I’m not even British haha). After reading a lot of the comments, though, I now feel a bit of “the lady doth protest too much”. Maybe there IS a point to it, and it does perpetuate unreasonable self image. I’m just playing devils advocate here, and considering the other side of the debate.

I do think, however, that it is unfair to focus on makeup alone. There are MANY concepts within society that perpetuate the concept that we aren’t good enough the way we are (to paraphrase) and not just in the way we look. The point I’d like to make is: so what? Wanting to look prettier is not inherently wrong. Just because it’s visual, and on your face, it can be seen a vapid. It’s philistinism.

The problem is that businesses want our money, run damaging image campaigns, and some women wind up so over pressured to look a certain way. Eating disordered models are the big problem, but spackle for wrinkles is overboard. People who don’t wear make up can’t differentiate between those and some powder on ones nose and start this noise up.

I think it’s so stupid that people will immediatly judge how you feel about yourself just because you wear makeup. I wear makeup most days simply because I love putting it on, buying it etc… Everyone has something they enjoy like say a sport or their career, why is it wrong to love makeup? If someone ever tells me Im wearing to much makeup or asks me why Im wearing it I just tell them to worry about their selves it’s not my job to enlighten you on the “mystery” I don’t believe anyone should feel like they have to wear makeup to be beautiful because you certainly don’t and I feel like that’s what everyone thinks when they see a girl wearing makeup. Usually when people tell me im wearing to much makeup I will literally be wearing sheer gloss and maybe a champagne cream shadow on my lid… sorry… but I don’t think that’s excessive… At that point I just take it as a compliment…

Sounds like the posters here have a healthy attitude about themselves and makeup. We play with makeup, we express ourselves with it, we celebrate our femaleness with it etc. Personally, I like a clean eye so I can see the shape of a persons eye and their expressions, along with a healthy blush color and lip color. I think every woman looks healthier with a rose or peach blush and some lip color. Being washed, with teeth in good healthy and clean hair goes a long way towards feeling your best which is something we all deserve. I’m glad that as a woman, I get to have more tools at hand to help me feel good about myself, confident and happy . I couldn’t care less whether some man approves or not, I’m doing this for me! Whether I wear makeup or not, I’m still the same person inside and that is where my worth resides. The outer self is for self expression and play. It’s my choice and no one else’s. If someone doesn’t like the way I look, then they don’t have to look at me.

I say that I wear makeup because I just enjoy it so much and I really do. I don’t wear it for anybody but myself and I DO feel better when I wear it and you know what? I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
It’s like a hobby for me. I love all aspects of it!!! I love reading the blog, looking at the swatches, ordering it, waiting for it and then playing with it when it comes. Knowing I have a package waiting for me at home some nights really makes my day brighter at work.
And then again, I am 46 and I really don’t give a crap what anybody else thinks about it. It’s like anything else in life….don’t like it? Don’t participate. I’m a big girl and I am comfortable with my choices and if you don’t agree? Oh well!

I say its about intention: If someone is using makeup to cover up their face because they think its unsightly, because they think their (rosy/light/deep/whatever) type of complexion is one way and should be another or that they feel they are lacking, then its an internal problem, and no amount of makeup will fix it.

For others, makeup is something they enjoy, a way of emphasizing their look, style or features. Some actually enjoy the process of wearing makeup, the ritual of taking a moment to care for themselves. I’ve always loved cosmetics: the feel of using brushes and creams and skin care always made me feel artistic and beautiful, I’d even liken it to using magic potions or a calligrapher’s set of pens. I don’t think its about other people: I like feeling polished and put together, and its fun, even when there’s no one around to appreciate it.

I think it’s an excellent question, and especially from a feminist point of view. It does become a problem when makeup is considered as mandatory for a woman for her to feel as such. It boils down to the idea that all women should fit into one vision of beauty and femininity, and it thereby reduces women to their looks.
But it is equally problematic when makeup is blindly criticized: more often than not, it is then denounced as entirely superficial, a superficiality that is associated with “traditional” femininity. And that’s sexist too, because being a woman does not entail being vapid, and neither does being feminine (in traditional representations of what it means), whether you are a man or a woman or anything in between (makeup is not women-only!). “Traditional” femininity should not be badly connoted.
So, I don’t think makeup should be degraded as long as it’s a choice, and that we’re aware that advertisements do provide us with problematic standards of beauty. I personnally see makeup as a hobby amongst others, and it definitly does not prevent me from keeping my priorities straight, while still bringing me pleasure and enthusiasm.
Like you said, Christine, it’s not even necessarily a matter of being pretty. It can be about having fun, expressing yourself, relaxing, or feeling good on the whole.

Hah! Make up doesn’t do that, make up advertising does that. We buy Chanel et al for its promise of loveliness. But- cosmetics have become subversive in the last half century. Certain looks aren’t about looks, but about subcultures. Mods, Rockers, punks, glam rockers, it’s a long list. The success of MAC was about an art supply store for painting faces and bodies in subculture styles.

Urban Decay was on that too. It was a response to urban culture and social shifts. Ilamasque carries that banner now, and it’s about Freak, not pretty. How many horrible make up practices persist because of subculture? Dark liner, pale lipstick? Shudder! But it’s a clan mark. Been around since 1978 when I first shuddered at it.

I do have self-image issues, and makeup does help make me feel better. I don’t see a problem with that. In particular, I was born with a ptosis in one eye, I’m sensitive about it, and eyeliner goes a long way to disguising it – so much so that many people never notice it if I’m made up. How can that be a bad thing for my self-confidence?

But beyond that it’s a form of artistic expression for me, I love to do different eye looks and I find it relaxing. I will sit and do stupidly intricate eye makeup some days when I’m at home all day and know I won’t be going out, just because I want to: so the argument that “you’re just doing it because of societal pressure to look pretty” falls flat on its face.

Lastly, the makeup looks I go for are often quite alternative and not to the taste of a lot of people. I’ll bet a lot of people will say it makes me look stupid, not prettier, but I don’t give two hoots because when I look at myself, this is my aesthetic and it’s what I think is pretty!

This is a great question and also a very difficult one. When a teen, I would get up early to put makeup on I loved it. Then came the career phase and at some point I looked around and realized that the feminist iconic heros that I worked with and looked up to wore very little makeup and NO nailpolish. Reluctantly I toned down the makeup and stopped wearing nailpolish. Not wearing nailpolish almost killed me!

Now I’m older, life is busy and sometimes very difficult. I just want to have some fun! Makeup is a fun, harmless creative hobby. Sometimes just pawing through one of my makeup stashes is a calming fun thing to do. I try not to make a fool of myself at work but…:)

For me, its a hobby. I wish I was one of those people that looked *completely* different with makeup on and 1000X more gorgeous, but I look the same, only with a bit of color on. I’m not skilled in the art department…I cant paint, or draw or build anything…but I do know how to work with makeup. Do I look better with makeup? Probably. I have no problem leaving the house bare faced though (and I do, often). But I feel prettier with some on, and I’m more confident with some on, and thats never a bad thing.

I love your answer Christine. If someone said that to me I’d reply with I’m not wearing makeup for anyone’s benefit but mine. I wear makeup for me, not to look ‘pretty’ for the opposite sex. Makeup is expressive and artistic and it’s FUN! And if a bit of mascara and lipgloss makes me feel good then where’s the harm? I go plenty of days makeup free a week and another day I may slick on some bright red lippy 🙂

Personally, I like makeup because it’s fun. I love art and I like having another medium to play around with. I keep a sketchbook and watercolor but makeup is different because of all the textures and finishes. I usually go out with just some lip balm unless I’m dressed up for a party or formal event–I never wear foundation. And by no means do I have perfect skin (acne on my forehead, dry patches on my nose, dark eye bags) but I don’t think it’s healthy to worry about such trivialities when I can focus my time and energy on the things in my life that should matter. The world of makeup bloggers/forums is really helpful and inspiring but I cringe when people say that they can’t live without a certain product, or that you *need* to hide imperfections, or anything along the lines of “you should use mascara so boys will notice you!” My first exposure to makeup as a tween was online, and it was confusing because I began to notice the tiniest details and blemishes though I’d always been comfortable with my external appearance. I think some bloggers don’t even realize when they take on really unhealthy tones about themselves, but many of them have young audiences who are getting their first perceptions about the necessity of makeup. (After following Temptalia for a little over a year now, I’m glad to say I haven’t noticed Christine use any negative language like this!) I think makeup easily perpetuates the idea that people need to look prettier if you develop a reliance on cosmetics and it starts to consume your life. Personally, makeup is a hobby at most for me but I do admire bloggers/MUAs/any other makeup fanatics just as I respect any other artists, as long as people understand that external beauty (and makeup, literally) expires and that ideas and relationships are eternal.

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