Wake up! Makeup is the big issue

As a girl growing up in the post-millenium period, I am very much a part of that demographic that is subject to unequal standards in almost all areas of social life; it’s become naturalised to everyone, and how do you pick out something that’s been naturalised and say, ‘oh, this is wrong’?

Makeup is a large package of those strange standards, but I don’t think it’s contentious enough in our everyday discourse. It’s one of the only things that still hasn’t quite crossed the male-female line the way pants have.

A lady is expected to put some makeup on in a professional working environment because it’s seen as an etiquette. A young woman is expected to make herself look ravishingly sex-worthy under the dark and dim lighting of a club – there are bouncers that turn girls away for not looking enough like bait. Even in a casual social situation (in the West anyway), a girl is expected to look pretty via covering up what she really looks like. What kind of message is that sending out?

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There’s a really poignant quotation from a young lady who went through a really emotionally unjust experience, and wrote a most riveting post about it, though I don’t necessarily like everything she says (not because it’s wrong, but because it’s a very cynical view of the world): “How can I look beautiful? I’m wearing makeup.”

If you read the rest of her post, that quotation has a very different meaning from what it sounds like on the surface. I like what it sounds like on the surface. I like the idea that the “I” who people say looks beautiful is not truly “I”, because “I’m wearing makeup.”

My mother is as tentative about makeup as I used to be, so I never learnt that set of ‘womanly skills’ from her; I got it off the internet, and practised it in dressing rooms and during GCSE revision breaks. Maybe this is why I seem to be the only one I know who feels as vehemently about this; the fact that I wasn’t brought up on it the way many girls here in the UK are, or that I don’t feel the need to wear it just to show my face to other people. Or maybe I just haven’t been hitting up the right communities; maybe somebody else on the internet who feels the same way, or has opinions on the matter, will read this and tell me what they think. Maybe it’s just one of those things people find it hard to discuss face-to-face because it seems so petty and picky to get into a tizzy over something that’s such a big part of the everyday routine of most girls.

I intend to blog a lot more about this; like I said before, maybe I’ve just never met the right people or read the right blogs, but I feel like not enough people talk about makeup as a social phenomenon, and only talk about how to use it. I’m just a confused, self-pitying little girl who just cries about the injustices of the world all day, and I don’t claim to be an expert opinion. I’m just someone who thinks about these things.

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