I feel like whenever a modern women talks about makeup, she INSISTS that she doesn't wear it because she's insecure. She wears it for HER. For ART. To EXPRESS HERSELF.
The cultural conversation surrounding makeup is all about how wearing makeup is a form of "female empowerment," to make us feel fierce and independent and in control of our appearance, and has nothing to do with other people.
I don't doubt there are women out there who wear makeup for their own enjoyment. But that's not the case for me.
Both the area under my eyes and my eyelids are extremely dark. The color is an unflattering mixture of purple and black and, on really bad days, red, somehow. If I don't wear concealer, I look like a zombie who got punched in both of her eyes.
I also have super light eyebrows, which makes it really hard to be a brunette, and also makes me look like a 10-year-old boy. So I never leave the house without lightly filling in my eyebrows with a pencil. It transforms my face from one that looks like that kid in "Big Daddy" to one that makes me look like a 22-year-old woman.
What I'm trying to say is, I wear makeup to improve things about my face I'm insecure about. I'm not ashamed to admit this, and neither should you.
Yes, winged eyeliner and sparkly purple eyeshadow can definitely be considered an artistic form of expression. Rocking a bold lip can make any woman feel like she can conquer the world. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and say that the concealer and eyebrow pencil I put on every morning is art. Because for a lot of us, it's an obligation.
If it were up to me, I would never, ever wear makeup, because I hate makeup. It takes up precious sleep time in the morning, it runs down my face if I'm walking in cold, windy weather and it smears all over my eyes after I go to the gym or have sex.
Unfortunately, it's really not up to me if I wear makeup. I wear makeup because every other girl wears makeup because we live in a patriarchal culture that has decided that women -- not men! -- need to cover up their dark circles and pimples to look presentable.
If I didn't wear makeup, I would probably look objectively sh*ttier than everyone else. The only way I would stop wearing makeup is if every single girl on earth came together and collectively decided to stop wearing makeup.
And speaking of men, I don't think women (particularly straight women) wear makeup for men per se, but they definitely wear it to look like the best version of themselves, and some of the places we try to look like the best version of ourselves are on a date or at the bar -- aka places where we want to impress men.
The best version of ourselves is a version of us that men can marvel over just as much as we can. There's nothing wrong with this.
On a deeper, more theoretical level, though, we all sort of wear makeup for men because they control the standard of beauty.
We live in a world in which nearly every aspect of popular culture is catered to satisfy a heterosexual male gaze. Somewhere along the way, men must have determined that, in addition to long legs and big boobs and a small waist, what would satisfy their gaze was a blemish-free woman with full lashes, arched eyebrows and pouty pink lips. So that woman started dominating television shows, movies and advertisements, and she became a new beauty standard.
The problem with this is that the average woman is not blemish-free, nor does she have perfectly full lashes, arched eyebrows and pouty pink lips. She needs foundation and concealer and mascara and an eyebrow pencil and lipstick to have any of that. She needs makeup.
One good way to evaluate whether something is sexist or not is to ask yourself one simple question: Are men doing it? Look at the difference between how women and men get ready in the morning. The process that makes a man attractive is nothing NEARLY as long and complicated as the process that makes a woman attractive.
Women are encouraged to plaster pore-clogging foundation on their skin to cover their acne, weigh their eyelashes down with falsies and stab their eyelids with a pencil and a bristled mascara brush.
But men don't have to do any of that sh*t. It's pretty clearly not fair or equal.
Men get pimples, too. Men have beady eyes that could use some emphasizing with eyeliner and mascara. If we lived in an equal society, both men AND women would have to cover up their zits with a little concealer.
I'm as much of a feminist as any other feminist, but I'm tired of reading about how empowered women feel when they wear makeup.
I'm not trying to take away a woman's right to feel empowered when she wears makeup, but she feels empowered by it in a society where the cards are stacked against women who don't wear makeup. I mean, every girl on earth has been asked if she's "tired" or "feels sick" on a day she chooses to go without makeup.
The only reason I feel powerful in makeup is because I know nobody can see the pimples and dark circles that I feel like I have to cover or the light eyebrows that I feel like I have to fill in. Is this REALLY empowerment?
Women all around the world are fighting against the beauty standards set by the male gaze, but it would be irresponsible to say they flat-out don't exist anymore. So aren't we still, on some level, beholden to what men think of us? Don't we still, on some level, wear makeup for them?
I love when men tell me they "like when a girl doesn't wear makeup," as if we were the ones who came up with this whole idea of spending half an hour every morning painting our faces.
But what men don't know is that what they think is "no makeup" is actually, like, six different products. So even if he thinks his girlfriend is wearing no makeup, she's wearing makeup. Makeup isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
At the end of the day, I'm OK with admitting that I wear makeup to hide my physical flaws. But the very second that we live in a truly egalitarian society, I'm throwing out my concealer and eyebrow pencil. Forever.