The makeup paradox (and girls are finicky)

My boyfriend was looking over my shoulder just as I was about to publish my previous post about makeup. He then asked me, ‘do you actually want me to compliment you when you’re wearing makeup?’ Some context – he usually does, but he compliments me plenty even when I’m not wearing any.

It raised a really good question, though – what exactly do I want to achieve with a bunch of pseudo-feminist blog posts? Do I want boys to say that there is no use for makeup? Do I want them to appreciate how much skill is involved in the art of a make-up artist?

I can’t speak for all women, obviously, but personally I don’t like the idea of a fake me (and that’s kind of what a made-up girl is, really) being more attractive or like/loveable than the true me. It just tells me that I’m naturally ugly. According to this logic, then, I dislike it when my boyfriend tells me he thinks I look good with my makeup on. At the same time, though – if he doesn’t compliment me when I’m wearing makeup, I’ll feel a little sore. I put all this effort into making myself look ‘good’, even if that good is a little far removed from what I really look like. Yet, I don’t seem to be pretty enough – even with artificial help! – for you to comment on. Does this mean I’m so ugly even makeup can’t help? That’s a terrifying thought.

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Obviously, both of the cases outlined above apply to any social situation, not just between lovers – although it is certainly more personal between lovers. But friends’ feedback can cause the same kind of insecurity.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Are girls just finicky creatures who don’t know what they want? What conduct is deemed appropriate regarding how good someone looks?

Girls are finicky creatures who don’t know what they want – but so is everyone else, so it would be hypocritical to accuse girls of that. Conduct-wise, I think it’s a good idea to tell the made-up object that they look good both with and without makeup. Truth to be told, when it comes down to the technicalities, people just look different with and without makeup on. It’s up to societies’ standards, and the prevalent fashions of the time, to decide what looks better or worse – but it’s all arbitrary.

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Perhaps the easiest way to think about all of this is to think of makeup as more like an outfit of clothing – each makeup look is as different as the other, and expresses a different part of your multi-faceted being. And if you choose to go nude – well, that’s just another look (although it’s far more taboo if we’re talking about the nude body, and a discussion for another time) that is arguably the most beautiful of all.