Sorry, Shakespeare, for ripping off your famous quote to use in a post about far more trivial topics than those of betrayal, murder, love, etc…But I just had to do it. Besides, I am sure your words have been exploited hundreds of times over the years, more than you can count. Or could count, if you were still alive. May you rest in sonnet-filled peace. Anyway, don’t worry–this isn’t going to be some venomous post bashing the evils of makeup and clamoring for all women to just “show your natural beauty!!” Just because I choose not to wear makeup (except for dance performances) doesn’t mean I would write an entire post on how ridiculous, vain, excessive, and trivial makeup is. I am not about to start ascribing human characteristics to a collection of facial pastes, powders, and creams. Nor will I argue that people who wear makeup are overly concerned with their outward appearance, because the choice of whether or not to wear makeup doesn’t necessarily reflect on your inner characteristics and virtues. Now, I could just stop the post here, say “wearing makeup is a simple personal choice and nothing more,” and sign off for the day. However, if you know my thinking and writing style, I am not one to just drop a topic so easily without first ruminating on it, over-analyzing it, discussing it in great depth, and examining both viewpoints on it. Can you tell why I can be a very indecisive person? Ah, and as a quick note, I realize that many men choose to wear makeup, but I am referring to only”she” in this post because I didn’t want to write male/female, him/her, etc…every few sentences.
The reason I never started wearing makeup was because I had an intense phobia of spreading any type of cream, paste, etc…on my face and couldn’t even apply sunscreen without having a slight panic attack. OK, not really; I just thought that would be more exciting than the truth. In all honesty, I simply never felt the need to wear makeup, and considered it a waste of precious time and money. I could actually be a rather practical adolescent at times. Perhaps it was partly due to the fact that I was homeschooled my entire life until college and never felt any type of peer pressure to improve the physical beauty of my face. However, correlation does not prove causation, so I can’t simply state that homeschoolers are less likely to wear makeup. That, my friends, would be a risky claim that would require a great deal of research to support it. Plus, my older sister wears makeup, and she too was homeschooled until college. So I won’t dwell any more upon that particular hypothesis. Anyway, fast-forward to 2014, and here I am, 20 years old and still never wearing makeup (except for the aforementioned ballet performances). I prefer not to wear it on a daily basis, so I don’t. The majority of my female friends and family members prefer wearing makeup, so they do. It’s as simple as that. Well, maybe not quite so simple, but I’ll touch upon that topic momentarily. Does my face look ugly and unattractive without makeup? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on who you ask, I suppose. “Beautiful” is such a subjective word. I know some people enjoy putting on makeup because it is a form of artistic expression for them–and there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, it is a tedious and unpleasant task, so I avoid it at all costs.
One thing that DOES irk me is when people construe the act of not wearing makeup into some grandiose “feminist” related action. First of all, according to my sociology professor, a feminist is simply a person who believes that men and women should be treated equally and have equal opportunities. Not all “feminists” support abortion, shun makeup, or hate men. However, you probably know how much I despise such vague labels in general, so I’ll stop ranting about the whole “feminist” title for now. Anyway, not all women choose to abandon makeup because they are trying to “make a point” or prove something to the world–maybe they just don’t enjoy wearing it! Perhaps this is why those popular “makeup-free” challenges have always baffled me slightly, since I don’t think choosing not to wear makeup is truly some incredible or “courageous” act. Maybe that sounds a bit harsh and critical, so let me elaborate a bit. Just because I don’t wear makeup doesn’t mean I am some heroic or revolutionary person, and I certainly don’t want to be admired or praised for such a simple and trivial decision. However, I understand that for some people, especially those who wear makeup on a regular basis, choosing to abandon their daily primping ritual does require a certain degree of determination and maybe even a bit of courage. It’s not my job to categorize acts into “courageous” and “not courageous,” even ones as simple as tossing out your lipstick and blush.
So, the million dollar question is probably this: Why DO we wear makeup? Just like many other questions, there is not one simple answer (is there ever?). If you read any anti-makeup/”you’re beautiful just the way you are” article online or in a magazine, there will almost certainly be comments saying something along the lines of “Hey, why do you assume we wear makeup to attract men (or women)?? Maybe we wear it for ourselves!! Maybe it makes us feel beautiful and confident!!” This could certainly be true for some people, and I don’t doubt the validity of this statement. However, if you were going to be in solitary confinement with no mirrors for an entire day, would you put on makeup? Probably not. Well, maybe you would, though this seems unlikely. I realize this is a rather extreme example, but I doubt that every single female wears makeup “just for herself.” No, they don’t necessarily wear it to attract romantic or sexual attention, but there are probably other reasons that involve not just themselves but the people with whom they interact. Most people on earth (yes, even myself–I am not a perfect angel) DO care, at least slightly, about how they look to other people, so I don’t think wearing makeup is an entirely selfless act done simply for your own pleasure. At least not in most cases. We want to look pretty, handsome, put-together, or at least decent when we go out in public, which is why I don’t walk into the grocery store in my semi-see through camisole top and yoga shorts. Also, I know some women may say they wear makeup because it makes them feel more confident and comfortable in their bodies. While I can’t understand how putting stuff on your face increases one’s confidence, this could certainly be a plausible reason. Just because this reasoning doesn’t make sense to me doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. Maybe some people wear it simply because it is fun and enjoyable. And for some people, as I mentioned earlier, putting on makeup is a form of artistic expression; they enjoy experimenting with different colors, styles, patterns, etc…
I’ve noticed that while wearing makeup is completely “normal” in our culture, there seems to be a fine line between a “normal” amount of makeup and “too much” makeup–at least according to some people. It is somewhat akin to having a tan: nicely bronzed skin is something to be admired and sought out, but you don’t want to be TOO tan, for fear of looking like you’ve been eating too many carrots and squash. These distinctions seem to be rather arbitrary and absurd–are these people trying to say that wearing mascara and lipstick is perfectly fine, but too much eyeshadow classifies you as “weird?” Or that going to a tanning booth is acceptable, as long as you don’t get overly tan? I’ve heard my sister mention that certain people in her school wear “too much” makeup, but how much is “too much?” If you have no problem with people wearing makeup, then why should you judge people who seem to be wearing “excessive” amounts? Not that my sister is always judgmental toward such people, but I know some people may be. Heck, I know I’ve made snap judgments about people based on their makeup, so I am certainly guilty in that respect. The important thing is not to let these judgments affect our long-term behavior toward these people, or prevent us from analyzing these split-second assumptions and thinking Hmmm…maybe I shouldn’t be so judgmental simply because of their physical appearance.
Makeup has been around for thousands of years, at least back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, and I don’t think it will be going “out of style” anytime soon. Or maybe it will at some point, when either (1) the price of cosmetics shoots up and people can no longer justify spending money on such products, (2) everyone simply loses interest in wearing makeup, or (3) some scientific discovery indicates that wearing makeup will almost certainly give you cancer. However, since none of these scenarios seem particularly realistic, chances are that people will continue applying lipstick, blush, eye-shadow, mascara, and other such products at least for the next several decades or so. I do NOT consider myself to be a “better” person simply because I choose not to wear makeup, put on jewelry, style my hair, or go shopping for clothes on a regular basis ( clothes shopping is one of my least favorite activities in the entire universe). These are simply personal choices that I have made, and do not make me any wiser or less shallow than my friends and family members who do choose to take part in such activities. Yes, I do think it’s ridiculous that certain jobs can require (or at least pressure) women to wear makeup. Yes, I do think that many cosmetic products are unnecessarily expensive (that’s the thrifty college student in me speaking). Yes, I do sometimes find it difficult to understand why some people feel as though they need to wear makeup every day. However, I would never claim that people who wear makeup are shallow or vain, because that would be both a huge generalization and an insult to all those wonderful, kind, and generous makeup-wearing people in the world.
So now that I’ve rambled on longer than excepted, I’ll turn the conversation over to my readers. Do you wear makeup on a regular basis? Why or why not? Do you agree or disagree with my opinions regarding makeup? Feel free to share any thoughts/rants/questions/criticisms! I promise I won’t censor your comments or be offended by your opinions ;)