Makeup — The Defining Factor?

With the new wave of incredibly talented make-up artistes and the utmost need for a face-beat for the most casual occasions to the red carpets at big events, CA writer @Mawu_Femor takes a look at the question ‘Does it, or should it define beauty?’

I can’t remember who sat me down to teach me the art of making up but I know that I wasn’t allowed to wear it until I was well over 16. I remember how my mother would rant over the fact that I had too many colorful Claire’s ribbons on my head (they were just two or three as a child depending on what hairstyle I had on) and ‘this is what the boys liked’ so you can imagine what my upbringing was like.

I would however not deny the fact that the iron fists molded me into who I am today — I feel very much like myself without a dab of lip gloss or lipstick, caked layers of foundation and powder, stenciled brows and lashes that will keep pricking me in the eye balls. Of course there are days that make up is necessary but it becomes a worry when some of us ladies cannot go a day without it hence the big question — “Is makeup what defines beauty?” Whilst opinions may vary here’s what I honestly think:

I do agree that some Ghanaian girls these days have become so accustomed to the use of makeup so much they do not feel put together on days that they go without it. I’ll share a brief story out of the many I have:

My first year class in Uni was basically a conglomeration of many fabulous and talented girls and a boy and as fashion students many of us looked the part. My friend whom I’ll just call Lady X was one of those have it all — extremely good with this fashion thing all round, stunning in terms of appearance — but a makeup freak. Semester after semester, there was no day she went without it to school. No matter how late she was, how urgently she had to get to school whatever the situation was, she absolutely had to wear her ‘mask’ to step on school grounds. She only pulled the breaks and served her face minimal portions of cosmetics when few of her really close girlfriends constantly spoke to her about it. Now if i were this Lady X in question, six out of seven days I’d let my face breathe because honestly, with or without make up she is beautiful. I never got to ask Lady X why she was addicted to wearing makeup but this addiction was obviously eating into other parts of who she was.

Now think about this again, using Lady X as case study. ‘Is this normal?’, ‘Why couldn’t she go without makeup?’, ‘Was she being influenced?’, ‘If she was, by what or whom?’ Ladies, don’t get me wrong. It isn’t bad at all to wear makeup. Making it the substance of your very being is where the problem lies. Here’s what some ladies and guys think about makeup. They also share their views on the excessive use of it:

- Mandy (GIMPA): “I use makeup to add an extra touch or spark to my face. Makeup in excess looks just too heavy and scary”

- Enam (Lifestyle Properties): “It enhances my face and appearance. Also covers dark spots and evens my skin tone. Sometimes i go without makeup if I’m not going to any serious place like work, church or social events.”

- Akpene: “I sometimes wear it when I’m having one of those bad days where i don’t feel pretty or to enhance my beauty. Different moods, different looks and just a different feeling. People use makeup a lot probably because it makes them happy. The ultimate need of every human is to be happy so if that’s what does it for them then cool.”

- Miriam (University of West England): “Makeup defines my look. However, making it an everyday thing creates reliance and reduces one’s confidence to wear they’re natural face and this I believe shouldn’t be the case. I therefore urge people to use makeup minimally and be confident more in their natural looks.”

- Diana (KAF University): “I use makeup to hide blackspots and enhance beauty. Excessive makeup i think is for the insecure ones or let me say those who don’t believe in themselves.”

- Winnie (Radford University College): “I hardly wear makeup but occasionally, i do something small to brighten up my face and enhance my appearance a bit for the purpose of the event i am attending. Hmm, excess makeup means your new ‘look ‘replaces your actual face so you tend to look ‘not beautiful’ without your ‘beauty’.”

-Ahmed (Radford University College): “If makeup makes ladies look nice then why not? Looking good boosts your self-confidence. Too much of it is a no-no”

Meanwhile, several others Couture Afrique spoke to were of the notion that the excessive use of makeup is as a result of over exposure, pressure, societal and foreign influence. Take the media for instance. You hardly ever see fashion models, celebrities, brides and women with a sea wave of social media following pop up on your screens without makeup or minimal makeup and all sorts of modifications. Young girls in turn idolize these women and all they ever think about is “i want to look like her”- sometimes at any cost because this is what they have been made to believe being beautiful should look like. Truth be told they don’t always look like that. It is just for the camera. And a lot of these pictures are edited so they look flawless. Bear in mind fashion and entertainment have defined for their industries what beauty should look like and you are definitely not obliged to have every one of those requirements checked to pass as beautiful.

So the next time you pick up that tube of concealer or pot of eye liner, be sure that it’s for all the right reasons. Remember, wearing makeup is a choice not a requirement (Deborah Rhode, Law Professor & New York Times debater- Does makeup help or hinder a woman’s self-esteem?). Learn to feel good in your natural skin!

Picture from @woena_mua (Instagram)

Because we are focusing on makeup this week, we have a special someone on Couture Afrique in Focus. Look out for it this weekend. It will be exciting! Clue: M.U.A, Ghanaian, Female.

Makeup should enhance and not change. You’re beautiful without it. You were born without it.

By @Mawu_Femor | Fashion Editor at Couture Afrique & Fashion Designer — It’s the start of a beautiful journey!

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