What is it about makeup that makes us all so weird?
Almost daily, I am shamed for my makeup choices. Normally it happens on Instagram. When I don’t wear makeup for a selfie (and then have the brag about my ‘bravery’) I lose followers by the dozen and then, when I do, even stranger things happen: I find people, women, relentlessly commenting on every ‘made up’ photo asking the same thing: “why so much makeup???”. I am told that I am prettier without it. That they wished I didn’t wear so much. That I shouldn’t be wearing it in the first place. I can’t do right for doing right it seems. I don’t wear it, people jump ship and abandon me forever. I do and then someone shames me for making that choice. What’s a girl to do? (Other than simply say ‘fuck it, it’s my face, leave me alone’ I mean…)
Let me tell you about my relationship with makeup. Sometimes I don’t touch the stuff at all. Sometimes I feel like I look great without it on and decide to embrace my “natural beauty”. Sometimes I don’t wear it and for every second of that day I hate my face so much. Sometimes I put it on and instantly regret it, feeling that I’ve either ruined a perfectly good canvas or that I have, in some way, not remained true to myself. Sometimes I wear it simply because I want to. Sometimes I put it on because I am bored and it’s fun and therapeutic. Sometimes I don’t feel myself without it on. Sometimes I feel like I should wear it to impress someone or because I feel that it is expected. Sometimes I put it on and get angry that it hasn’t made me ‘perfect’ and end up resenting my face. Sometimes it makes me feel totally beautiful. And then sometimes I just need it. End of. It is complicated, to say the least. I don’t understand it at all, but there is one thing that I know for sure: it is incredibly personal.
The makeup that I do, or do not, put on my face is there, or not there, for a very good reason. I don’t always know what that reason is but I do know that it is not, I repeat not, a conversation for anyone to have, but me. Commenting on someone’s weight/shape/height/colour is, by most, considered inappropriate. Although it still happens (GRRR), normal people know that that is not an acceptable thing to do and our opinions are often not welcome. And yet, for some reason, where our makeup choices are concerned, people feel that their opinions are CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. Not only appropriate but totally necessary. They comment as they please.
But my choice to wear makeup is so much more than just fancying it on any given day. I’ve chosen to wear it, or not to, for a reason, whether or not I really know what that reason really is. I am creating a face to present to the world, it is a reflection of me in that moment, it’s often the thing that gets me through. If makeup is, like my boyfriend says, warpaint, then it is vital to my success in battle that day. Battles that change daily, but that happen daily. Battles that represent me, that are part of me and my life. Battles that are complicated and personal and important. Battles that you can’t see, that you don’t understand, that you’re not a part of. And with that in mind, I’ll ask, do you really think it is appropriate to tell me not to wear my makeup?
To tell me that I’m prettier without it? To imply that I’m somehow shallow and weaker because of the choice that I have made?
I think people often make the mistake of thinking that by telling a person that they look better without makeup on they are giving them a compliment. They are, after all, telling this person that they are a natural beauty and that they shouldn’t feel that they have to change. but of course what they are actually doing, albeit by accident (hopefully) is telling them that right now, in this moment, they don’t look so good. How’s that for a confidence booster eh? The other thing that they are doing, btw, is critiquing this person’s art work. ‘Cos let’s be honest here: makeup is art.
You may well think that a person looks better without makeup on you may hate the choices that they make, you may be SO angry with them, though God knows why you care so much. But you may not comment. Especially when it is clear to see that someone has obviously put the time into it.
I am lucky, I don’t really give a shit. Makeup/no makeup, I know that it’s my face. But despite that, it’s still annoying me.
If someone puts a ‘no makeup selfie’ online, by all means, tell them how gorgeous they are. But please do not assume that this is a ‘before’ photo. Please do not compare them to their made-up self of the day before. In the same way that it is inappropriate to ask another person: “but… why so fat?” “but… why so tall?” or “but… why such an unflattering dress?” asking “but… why so much makeup?” is not an entirely appropriate question. It’s a personal question.
Although, if you must know actually, WHY I’ve worn so much makeup….
I did it because I wanted to.
NB. Just as I finished typing this a woman commented on a new Instagram photo telling me that she thinks I do too much with my hair. Eyes peeled for a piece on why that’s not very nice either…