It’s an average Tuesday afternoon, I’m walking into my lecture theatre and I can’t help but over-hear a conversation between two girls in front of me: “She wears so much make-up, like it’s actually ridiculous”, says one, “yeah she must spend at least 45 minutes putting it on,” says the other. As I trail in behind them with a fully contoured face wearing my pink sparkly eyeshadow and golden highlighter, I can’t help but feel offended. I have most definitely spent at least 45 minutes on my make-up, and am wearing 3 different types of mascara and very expensive foundation. But why should I feel ashamed?
The degrading tone those girls have used to discuss make-up perhaps bothered me more than it should have, but it’s because the comments they’ve made are ones I’ve heard time and time again. Questions like: “Who are you trying to impress with your make-up?” and, “why do you wear make-up? You look fine without it”, are ones that I’ve had posed to me on countless occasions. It’s often assumed that I must be wearing make-up because I’m obsessed with my appearance or because I want to change the way I look, but this is just not true.
On an average morning, I’d say I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour doing my make-up, and yes, it is quite rare that I leave the house without any on. Whilst this may seem completely crazy to some of you and you might be thinking that I have some deep-rooted issues, I actually just really enjoy putting it on. I find it highly therapeutic to take some time out of my day to solely focus on one thing; applying make-up. So why are make-up wearers so heavily criticised? Whose business is it whether I want to wear make-up or not?
Whilst I don’t claim to be some make-up guru who always has perfectly drawn eyeliner and fabulous eyebrows, I would like to stress the fact that the artistry and creativity behind make-up is often ignored. People spend weeks, months and even years learning and perfecting various techniques of the make-up industry as a career or hobby, so why is this considered to be any more of a shallow pursuit than an interest in say clothes and the fashion industry? Why is make-up often belittled and viewed as a shallow interest to have rather than celebrated as something which people can use as a form of self-expression?
Yes, I’m very aware that historically women were encouraged to wear make-up to appear more attractive and so I guess you could say it’s a vicious and sexist creation of a patriarchal society, but I hate to break it to you; most things are. However, this is also no longer the case and although many people have tried to tell me that as a female I have been socialised to invest more time in things such as wearing make-up rather than learning a skill, I’d like to stress that make-up is a skill and art within itself. Why is make-up viewed as more useless than any other art? It’s just as expressive, just as therapeutic and it takes a lot of skill to be able to do it well. It is also no different to taking time out of your day to plan an outfit or to show an interest in clothes and fashion - may I point out to the aforementioned girls wearing their Urban Outfitters coats and Doc Marten brogues.
The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t be so dismissive of people like me who want to wake up early in the morning to apply their nude matte lipstick and highlight their cheekbones. Whilst people’s reasons vary as to why they want to wear make-up you shouldn’t assume that people who wear make-up are any more shallow, self-conscious or less intelligent than you. And to those of you complaining about make-up re-enforcing norms of a male dominated society, I’d like to say that you are also re-enforcing the patriarchy in criticising other females for wearing make-up rather than applauding them for their skill and creativity.
Oh, and one last thing - I know a lot of boys who wear make-up, and not only are they demonstrating how make-up can be used as a form of expression, their skin is flawless and they could probably teach you a thing or two about how to perfectly shape your brows.