I don’t know if any of you have been Instagram surfing in the last few days and seen the amazing #PowerOfMakeup trend taking the internet by storm, but just in case you haven’t, let me fill you in.
It all started with a YouTube video by hair and makeup artist Nikkie Tutorials when she painted just one half of her face with makeup and kept the other half natural. She said in the video “I’ve been noticing a lot that girls have been almost ashamed to say they love makeup, because these days [people assume] you either do it for boys, you do it because you’re insecure, or because you don’t love yourself.”
The result of this has been countless people applying half their faces with makeup whilst leaving the other half bare, to prove that they wear makeup for themselves, because it’s fun and because they like the way they feel in it.
hich is great and I love it! Even I had a go at it this morning, obviously I looked totally ridiculous but I liked the sentiment behind it. And then I started thinking about makeup in general. As little girls we accepted it as something that our mummies wore and we couldn’t wait to be old enough to wear ourselves. And then we went to school and became the proud owners of a Blue Rimmel Eye Shadow and spent a couple of years experimenting with that, or in my case, using lip liner as eye liner cause no one told me the difference, and then finally and thankfully some kind person took you under their wing and taught you that NO, more is not necessarily better.
But when did makeup become so important? I always thought I wore makeup for ME, but then I realized on the days when it’s just me, my boyfriend, a pizza and a box set there is no way in hell I’m going to doll up. So maybe I’m not wearing it for me? Maybe I’m wearing it for my confidence, or for the way I look in pictures, or for the people that need to look at me, or maybe in fact I am wearing it for other people?
I wore it in school, a little bit and I think it was probably good for me, for girls, and boys actually, with low self esteem issues or bad skin, perhaps makeup is a great thing. But on the other hand, does it put too much pressure on girls to wear it because their friends are?
So I decided to call in the big guns (The Pretty Normal People) and find out what makeup means to them, how old they were when they started wearing it and, if they went back to school tomorrow, would they be totally fine to strip back and face the world as nature intended them to?
Our survey showed that most people were allowed to wear makeup to school, as long as it was subtle, a bit of mascara maybe and some concealer, and that most of our girls started wearing makeup at about 12 or 13 years old.
When asked who they would be happy to go bare faced in front of the results were unanimous, close friends, family and boyfriends (of longer than 3 months generally). Oh and our sporty survey takers admitted that gym-bods, cycle friends and fellow athletes often see them without a scrap.
However when we asked if they would be happy to go out without any makeup on at all, all bar one survey taker said yes, although they would go out without it on, they wouldn’t be ‘comfortable’ to do so.
So then we threw some tricky questions at them, questions which have had headmasters, mistresses and school boards scratching their heads for years:
Should girls be allowed to wear makeup in schools?
Charlotte, 22, a graduate student for medicine says “Definitely, it’s a chance for freedom of expression, however I feel it should be within limits as school is a professional environment.”
Nicole, 23, a professional dancer, says “No, I don’t think girls should be allowed to wear makeup at school because I think it is allowing them to be someone who they really are not. Without makeup you can be yourself and not hide behind a face full of ‘perfection’ as some would say.”
Ellie, 38, a teacher says: “I think discreet makeup is okay, but they should not wear too much, especially when they are very young. I think it is bad for their skin and is also often used as a way to hide, which means they may never learn to be comfortable in their own skin. I do agree that teenage girls should be able to express their personality, but I think makeup should be worn when they are not in school. School’s have uniform for a reason”
Do you think makeup opens the door for bulling in schools?
Charlie, 29, a singer-songwriter and makeup artist, says “No – bullies will bully anyone for any reason. Weight, hair colour, skin colour, makeup, shoe size… A bully will bully for anything whether relevant or not…”
Claire, 53, an office manager says: “Yes, in a way, but I found the girls that wore a lot of makeup were the bullies.”
Emily, 22 a medical student says: “Yes if the ‘victim’ allows it to become an issue. At the age when others started to wear makeup and I didn’t I did feel self-conscious as others didn’t understand why I didn’t really want to bother with makeup. I’m pleased I stuck to my guns as to who I am and stayed myself but if I had let some comments get to me and become more an issue it could be thought of as bullying?”
Do you think girls of a certain age feel pressured to cover themselves in makeup?
Judith, 60 (gulp), an Aural Rehabilitator says: “There is a lot of pressure and I find the use of thick foundation disturbing, unless the person has bad skin they want to cover up for their own self-esteem. Experimentation with colour ect is normal and fine, but not the need for young girls to be afraid to leave home without it (too much like middle aged+++ women who need it to feel confident and attractive!”
Hayley, 37, Head of Health & Physical Wellbeing, says “I think the media has a lot to answer for. Trash magazines that berate celebs for going out bare faced and picking up on every flaw they have. I say flaw, I actually mean their natural look that may or may not include marked skin or uneven tone. I believe this increases an individual’s lack of self-confidence or worth. I know some young girls (under 20) who wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without being fully made up.”
Ellie, 22, an Account Executive says: “I can say with assertion that I never felt pressured to wear lots of makeup during school. I did, however, notice the difference between myself and girls who did – sometimes feeling they were much more grown up than me. I do think it’s almost become a rite of passage now, though. Every girl will eventually get to a point in her life where she will wear makeup. For example, if I were to go on a nice night out, I would feel under-dressed if I went with a bare face. Almost as if I’d made no ‘effort’. I think that’s an interesting consideration – that it’s almost a part of getting dressed, not feeling exposed at all? Perhaps there was an element of pressure here. At uni I started to wear more makeup and even took fake eyelashes for a test drive, just because all the girls I lived with did and I felt less ‘done up’ when I didn’t. I quickly realized this wasn’t me and stopped – hate the way foundation feels on my skin so don’t wear it.”
And finally, the million-dollar question:
Do you wear make up for YOU?
And the answer here is fairly clear, yes, although our Pretty Normal People are wearing makeup for themselves, it will always feed back to the way that we feel about ourselves. Although it may appear that we are wearing it for other people, this is not the case. We are wearing makeup because we like the way we FEEL.
As Ellie pointed out, it’s almost as if putting makeup on is part of getting dressed. A lot of us feel naked without it, like we would if we had forgotten to put trousers on, or were missing a button on our blouse. We get so used to the way we feel in it, we learn to LOVE the way we feel in it, that we take it for granted, so when it’s gone we feel like something is missing.
My boyfriend is baffled by makeup and always describes it as me ‘putting on my war paint’ and I think he’s exactly right, when I put makeup on in the morning, or the evening, or whenever, I’m getting ready for battle, whatever form that is taking. Whether it be an interview, a party, a date, a dinner, it’s all part of the big old conflict that is life, and so yes, I suppose it is our war paint.
So should girls wear it in schools? Probably not, maybe they should, I DON’T KNOW. What I do know however is you have got to live your life for you, and if you can live a happier, easier life hiding your spotty chin or drawing on eyebrows because otherwise you look like you’ve had a nasty accident in the chemistry labs, then so be it. As was made apparent by the fabulous answers that you read above, the media and trashy magazines ought to be held accountable for this overwhelming desire we feel to make ourselves perfect, however, we are just too far along that road now to change it.
We are so used to celebrities covered in makeup that we are generally surprised when we see someone without it on, which is sad, and wrong and horrendous and shit but this is our biggest battle of all and will take time and tears to make it right. So what do we do right now? I think we need to accept this for what it is and we need to make the most of this situation. So girls, if you like the way you feel in makeup, then do what ya gotta do.
PS. People of the Internet, I would love to hear your thoughts on this….