Is it superficial, expected or just something we do? Or is it something more?
“She’s got way too much on,” An acquaintance threw the comment out there without thinking after another woman has left the taxi to return home after a night out.
Before I could speak up, another woman in the taxi agreed with my acquaintance.
I was dumbfounded.
Here was women tearing down other women about something that is literally just a layer of powders and liquids on a face.
I was watching people badmouth a woman who had just as much makeup on as me.
What were they going to say when I got out of the taxi?
Would I be accused of trying too hard? Would they say I looked inappropriate? Would they make fun of my lashes or my eye makeup or my lipstick?
Would I be judged for something I enjoyed doing?
Would they give me a value based on how acceptable they thought I looked?
I stopped wearing makeup
Let’s be clear, I didn’t stop wearing makeup because of those women in a taxi or the numerous posts online about women being too done up or overhearing men discuss how they liked makeup but “isn’t a form of lying?”…
Makeup was my crutch but it was also a target for insults, and shame.
I stopped wearing makeup because my skin was awful and I was using makeup as a shield to deal with the day.
I didn’t stop wearing makeup for other people but when I stopped wearing makeup, I felt shame if I wore makeup for a special event, or concert or social event.
I had written about wearing less makeup so I felt I was being hypocritical for then publicly wearing makeup.
When I wrote about my journey to less makeup, a lot of people in my real life talked to me about it. They thought it was brave. They said I was doing something inspirational.
I was promoting being makeup free.
Was I traitor to my cause for occasionally putting on some eyeliner and eyeshadow?
How we talk about makeup
There is something wrong with how we discuss those who wear makeup.
It’s either too much or too little.
It’s either tasteful or disgusting.
I’m both expected to wear makeup and be good at it but also be natural , no visible makeup and have flawless skin…
The world seems to have this strange conclusion about makeup: you must wear it but only enough for each individual to view you as acceptable.
But you can’t make everyone happy. Fact.
Imagine being unacceptable or different — how awful! (Sarcasm)
Unless you love the process of makeup, which has been around for centuries in different forms, you won’t understand the appeal.
It’s the same with any interest. I don’t understand football but a lot of people do; my lack of interest in football doesn’t make football unacceptable but it just means that I don’t get it and that’s fine.
I wouldn’t try to make someone feel bad for being interested in football so why is it okay to make women and men feel guilty about liking makeup?
Shame versus Empowerment
If I’ve learned anything from Rupaul’s Dragrace, Drag SOS and the Beauty YouTube community, is that makeup can be a source of empowerment.
Putting on eyelashes and a smokey eye can make you a different person.
It can give you the confidence to get through the day. It can give you the confidence to face that scary meeting, and go out on the town when you’ve not left the house in weeks. Makeup can be a tool for strength. As much as it can be a source of pain when you are judged for it, it is one of the best ways to make yourself feel better when you’re having a bad day.
I’ve turned to makeup on days and nights where I’ve wanted to hide under the duvet and hibernate.
Makeup can unleash the inner you that is desperately clawing to get out! It is a wonderful source of creativity and expression so why not utilise it to give yourself confidence?
Why is this form of creativity a bad thing?
Leave the shame behind
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” — Coco Chanel
With or without makeup, you are still you. You still exist under all the makeup and clothing but those things can be how you express your inner self.
I don’t understand why people get annoyed by makeup and I can’t change their minds.
But isn’t this world just slightly more fun with a bit more colour?