I'm bipolar. I blog about it. I also blog about sex, theology and atheology, funny shit and sad shit, books, music, feminism, and love. Mostly love.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Makeup is NOT Antifeminist

Yes makeup, yes feminist.
*I would like to note that I wrote this geared towards women because of the feminist nature of the post. However, these truths are applied (often in reverse) to men who wear makeup as well. Men should not feel bad about interest in cosmetics, and no assumptions or judgments should be made concerning a man’s sexuality because of his use of makeup. I try to be sensitive to my male readers on this topic, because I acknowledge the flaws of our gender dichotomy. <3 to y’all.

I love makeup. I love makeup because it is art. It is art in the same way tattoos, piercings, and clothes are art for our bodies. It’s a form of artistry I’m not half-bad at. I appreciate cosmetic application as an expression of personality and a creative outlet. I like picking colors that look good together and finding the perfect shade of foundation for my skin. And I love helping other women do the same. I’m a Mary Kay consultant. I’m also a feminist.

And I know that’s hard for some people to grasp, because the way in which people use makeup can be antifeminist, and the way in which people interpret a woman’s use of makeup can be antifeminist. But makeup is never antifeminist. Some women do not wear makeup because they don’t like it. Just fine. Some women don’t wear it because they want to push social boundaries. Just fine. Some men and women are attracted to a certain style of makeup. Just fine. But makeup is often viewed in ways I find problematic. Following are my issues with makeup and my explanations of those.

What makeup is not:
  1. A requirement for beauty.
  2. A requirement for women.
  3. An invitation for sex.

Further explanation:

  1. Physical beauty has nothing to do with images on TV or in magazines. Physical beauty is something every single woman has. Some man or woman who is in touch with their sexuality and their wants and needs will find her attractive. Ugliness lies in behavior and isn’t present in physical appearance. I don’t believe in ugly. I do believe in unattractive. Something may be unattractive to me, which to me means that I find it unattractive; and not that it is by nature unattractive. Just because I do not find someone attractive does not mean they are inherently unattractive; someone else still might. Makeup isn’t what makes a woman beautiful. It can highlight the things she is most fond of. Maybe a woman really appreciates and loves the shape of her lips. If she wants to accentuate that, I take no issue with that. All that means to me is that she loves herself enough to have found a part of herself she is willing to show off. And the same goes for a woman without makeup! If she finds herself attractive without makeup on, then she need not wear it. I know I’m beautiful without makeup, but I still enjoy it. I wear makeup a lot, but I sometimes (more often lately) allow my face to go without. I need to remind myself that I’m beautiful without it, and I am confident enough to show it off without fear of how others feel about it. I find myself attractive, and if someone else does not, I’m not bothered by that. I don’t find everyone attractive either! It’s crazy to expect everyone to be attracted to me. A woman’s beauty comes from her attractiveness which is a combination of her personality and her physical appearance; which does not have to match societal standards of beauty to be beautiful. Damn the man.
  2. It’s absurd to define a woman’s femininity by her interest in makeup. Perhaps she just feels more comfortable expressing her creativity elsewhere. A woman is a woman by choice, and if she does indeed identify as woman, then she is a woman. Her style of dress, her career, nor her interest in cosmetics can take that identity from her. I’m concerned that a woman can feel less of a woman because of another person’s idea of attractiveness. Often that idea of what is attractive is defined by images on TV (curse television), and I take issue with that because...

    A) images of women on TV are often achieved by unnatural means and are unattainable by nearly every other woman. It is unfair to expect that of women. Women should not be attempting to fit themselves into our cultural cookie cutter, because not everyone fits! Women should instead accept their appearance, although always aiming for health. But some women are healthy at a size 14 (this girl, for instance). Some women are healthy at a size 0. No body is the same. And the cookie cutter is getting more and more complicated. The cookie cutter has breasts that are not proportionate to the rest of the tiny body. The cookie cutter has skin that is darker than is healthy for the popular blonde hair often associated with it. Blondes tend to have fairer skin and are more prone to skin sensitivity and sunburn. This cookie cutter leaves women feeling hopeless and unfeminine. Women try to lose weight to look like those skinny women, but the weight first comes from their breasts! Women try to tan, but then age more rapidly—another natural process our culture is terrified of, as if looking younger means you aren’t actually approaching death. A woman in her natural state is attractive to someone as she is. There isn’t one way to be beautiful, and it’s ludicrous to think that because a woman doesn’t look like a Barbie—something nearly physically impossible to achieve without cosmetic surgery –she isn’t attractive! And,

    B) people who are attracted to those images are often only attracted to those images because they feel a social obligation to be, as if not finding Kim Kardashian attractive would make them less of a man. (I only say man because women are generally not expected by society to find Kim Kardashian attractive.) So, TV Heads (people who allow television to think for them) can only be attracted to them physically which is only half (although still important) of attraction. That means these people are experiencing a very shallow sense interest in these images, and they are assuming that they will be wholly attracted to a woman that displays that image in the “real world.” However, they are lacking the equally important part of attraction: personality. This leads to misinterpretations and unrealistic expectations. For instance, women with large breasts are often considered sexual—regardless of their personality—because our society encourages young men to find large breasts sexually attractive. Also, I’m bothered because I don’t think TV Heads are really in touch with their sexuality. Every single person attracted to women is not likely attracted to the same kind of woman, and vice versa. A person that lets their TV think for them is often not aware of what they do find attractive. They think that only certain physical bodies are supposed to be found attractive, and someone who finds a 300 pound woman attractive is wrong. But honestly, I believe that person is far more in touch with their sexuality and their physical needs, because they’ve come to that conclusion on their own. Society had nothing to do with that decision. I respect that.
  3. I feel ridiculous that I have to say this at all. Guys and gals: just because a woman wears a style of makeup our culture tends to pair with sex doesn’t actually mean she wants to have sex. You may say, “Maddie! People don’t really think that!” But tell me if you’ve heard this: “Her makeup looks so slutty.” You have. And the word ‘slut’ is associated with sex! But be sure to check the etymology on that! When someone calls someone a slut because of the style of a woman’s makeup, they’re insinuating that woman wants to have sex because of that. Culturally, red lipstick and thick, black eyeliner are associated with prostitution and thus women who are initiating sex. But further consideration needs to be made: Perhaps she just likes the aesthetic appearance of that style of makeup. Is it not possible she just finds herself attractive in that style of makeup? Also, we should consider the likely possibility that she may feel pressured to present herself as a sexual being, because she may see herself as such. By calling her a slut, you’re confirming her belief that her purpose is to please men; nothing more. We need to be a lot more careful about our judgment of women—everyone has a story, and you don’t know everything! I get that it’s pretty much written in our DNA to judge people and categorize them, but we’ve come quite a long way since the days of a necessary, biological sense to protect ourselves from warring tribes, in order to carry on our race. In fact, we’re dangerously overpopulated. Seriously. It’s unnecessary. And people. Assuming a woman wants to have sex with you just because you think her makeup screams it, makes you look kind of desperate. And desperation + the flippant use of the word ‘slut,’ makes you a tool. Congratulations. You’re an asshole. Nice guys don’t really finish last.
In short. Makeup is a form of artistic expression. I don’t like for women to feel as though their beauty depends on it. And I don’t like women to feel as though their womanhood is unbreakably bonded to cosmetics. And I don’t like when a woman is labeled a slut because of the way she wears her makeup (or anything she does, really). But I love makeup. I’d appreciate if other feminists stopped harping on it.

But for the sake of you feisty women: I do think women should wear it less. I think they should experiment with their natural, physical beauty and learn to accept themselves as they are. They should look for things they’re proud of instead of focusing on what they’re ashamed of on their bodies. And the confidence to go without makeup is impressive, only because of our culture’s emphasis on it. Try it out for a while every now and then, just to remind yourself of how beautiful you are, and to get in touch with why you’re really putting that face on in the morning.

No makeup, no big deal.


kyle gene said...

I personally like the no make up pictures better. Then again, you are wearing glasses in those as well. That makes a difference too. I can't accurately judge. :P

Cypress said...

You go girl! I'm glad to see your point of view on this. I agree, makeup can be an art form in the same way clothes and tattoos and stuff can.

Jayne Williams said...

2 thoughts: padded bras & make-up as we age.

in about 1995, a group at the American Psychological Association was circulating a petition against padded bras with feminist reasoning. I didn't sign it. I think body shape is personal and the wearing of a padded bra might be defended with some of your arguments for make-up.

as a woman's skin ages, it impacts how make-up looks. The make-up artist and the make-up wearer are making adjustments all the time...but for me, the look of my skin with make-up on it is definitely changing my relationship with make-up (and this doesn't seem feminist to me...just practical).