Instagram Makeup and the Degradation of Self-Confidence

With makeup artistry comes the showcasing of one’s work. MUA’s and makeup enthusiasts have been posting before and after pictures of their makeovers on themselves and others for ages now, yet there has been a recent, exploitative trend towards picking on those transformations.

“Take her swimming on the first date” is a motto of ignorant male Twitter that attacks women for having natural skin underneath their makeup. It’s quite appalling to see how these men think women are born naturally with flawless skin, filled-in eyebrows, sparkly eyelids, and burgundy lips. Majority of those tweets picking at women’s transformations include pictures of women who suffer from hyperpigmentation, alopecia, acne, etc., an apparent demonstration that “savage” Twitter will make fun of anything and anyone for five minutes of fame.

Many makeup artists and makeup enthusiasts have retorted, from videos showcasing their waterproof makeup to well-written paragraphs about how they are NOT insecure underneath the makeup that they wear, but what about those women who are insecure about their looks and use makeup to boost their self-esteem? Granted, not everyone who wears makeup is covering something they don’t want seen, but a handful do. Where is their support?

I would not have ventured into the makeup world and become a beauty enthusiast if it were not for the problematic skin my mother passed down to me. If it weren’t for the break outs I suffered through my sophomore and junior year of high school that led to scarring that made me afraid to walk outside without foundation. Fortunately, with the improvement of my skin followed the improvement of my confidence, and I have reached a nice balance of security with our without makeup (although, I would like to be more confident without makeup). And I know many similar cases exist.

The fact-of-the-matter is with “Instagram makeup,” which I define as trend of the showcasing of makeup artists/makeup enthusiasts work on social media, accompanies things like “face-tuning” where blemishes, wrinkles, pores, or anything that signifies problematic skin are smoothed out. Perpetuating the idea that picture perfect skin is common, when majority of women have skin problems. The ideal of flawless skin emphasized by Twitter and Instagram has created yet another unrealistic expectation that girls and women need to reach. This expectation has the potential to particularly harm younger girls, those exploring makeup and learning about themselves, teaching them that if their faces are not flawless at every stage of their development, they are somehow “ugly” and unworthy of positive attention.

It saddens me that many, including myself, are hesitant to post selfies, especially without makeup, because of the negativity we are bound to receive. Unless we have no dark circles, no hyperpigmentation, and perfectly chiseled facial features, it’s almost certain that someone will attack us for being “deceptive” by using makeup. The apprehensiveness of going makeup-free in real life exists as well. I find myself contouring my nose every morning to make sure it appears smaller. And I know of plenty of women who cannot fathom stepping outside barefaced.

As beautiful, wonderful, and expressive as makeup can be, I rarely find makeup enthusiasts and artists talk about the negative effects of “Instagram makeup.” Quite frankly, “Instagram makeup” has made us women hyper-aware of the flaws in our appearance.

While it is very easy for me to sit behind this computer screen and encourage us all to embrace our natural features, it is actually very difficult to start that journey of self-appreciation. Makeup is a wonderful art form, something that many women of color enjoy, something that often even brings us together, but we should all make an active effort to remember makeup should not dictate our self-confidence. It’s okay to start being comfortable with the natural oils, colors, and pores of our skin. And it’s okay to unfollow, mute, and disconnect ourselves from pages that make us feel otherwise.