The (not so favourable) art of makeup shaming

Why is it okay to judge someone based on how they present their exterior? If someone chooses to express themselves in a particular way, why does that make them a target for mockery?  Makeup shaming is the (not so favourable) practise of putting people down for wearing ’too much makeup’. It is a growing problem across social media as well as just in everyday life.  It is people making the assumption that whether or not you choose to wear makeup dictates your character, accusing people of only wearing makeup in order to please others or out of self-hatred.

Personally, I have worn makeup nearly every day since I was around 12 years old. For this I have been scrutinised many times by a range of people. I have had people inform me that it makes me appear stupid, that I should wear less of it, that I should do it differently. I have overheard similar things said about others, that makeup somehow carries connotations of their character. Because I wear makeup I must be superficial, I must be vain, I must be submissive in some way.

There are plenty of people who would have you think that wearing makeup makes you fake and that people only wear it to hide their insecurities, throwing around phrases like ‘your makeup is why I have trust issues’ (another ridiculous phrase that has been popping up on social media).  We need to understand that women are beautiful with or without makeup, wearing it doesn’t mean you’re hiding yourself, just as not wearing it doesn’t mean you’re missing anything. Most makeup wearers will tell you, it’s fun to play around with different techniques and colours, for some it’s a passion and makeup artists grow a career surrounding it.

The same goes for men who wear makeup. Why does it have to be gender specific? I see no reason why men can’t use it for a similar set of reasons and use it to express themselves. I don’t understand why anyone would look down upon it when most male models in magazines, male actors in films and anyone appearing on tv will be wearing makeup of some form and no one bats an eyelid.  But when a male wears it in a more obvious or everyday sense, it is suddenly taboo.

There is also the opposing argument that makeup is anti-feminist as it objectifies women by being used to make women look more seductive. For example, red cheeks and red lips show fertility and appear naturally around the time of ovulation due to the increase in blood circulation which is supposedly more attractive to a male. As well as this it could be seen as buying into the beauty standard which can be harmful to women.  But isn’t feminism all about women having the choice to do what they please as long as it doesn’t hurt others, isn’t it about not taking away women’s passions and choices? Feminism isn’t about dictating how a woman should be, how she should dress and do her makeup. It is about the freedom to choose.

Wearing makeup can be seen as a particular problem for children as it can be seen as early sexualisation and may cause them to become obsessed with physical appearance rather than developing their character which is so much more important. As well as this, it could send them down the path of striving for an unattainable physical perfection which can lower their self-esteem considerably. However some children only wear makeup to emulate their parents and they find it exciting and interesting: just another part of playing dress up rather than something potentially damaging. How many little kids have played with their mum’s red lipstick just to feel a little bit grown up? Just the other day, I found my 5 year old sister with some silver, glittery eyeshadow all over her face because she ‘wanted to sparkle’. It did look more like she had been sweeping the chimney but she was thrilled. Should I be incredibly concerned about it? I don’t really think so.

Finally, to quote Francois Nars:

‘To me the essence of makeup is the freedom to be who yourself, to express who you are’.