There’s a certain soapbox people love to stand on when it comes to makeup and beauty products. Let’s call it the “be confident in your own skin” soapbox. Those who climb atop it try to urge women to put down their blush brushes and mascara wands, and tell us that we don’t need makeup in order to be beautiful. We should embrace our natural beauty and be who we really are. That we are more lovely without any makeup at all.
All of this sounds well-intentioned, and on the surface, it almost feels like female empowerment. It can be easy to miss the actual problem with this message, because it’s so subtle and unspoken, but the problem is a huge one.
The idea of becoming our true selves by stripping away makeup implies that we are wearing it solely as a facade. It implies that we aren’t confident. It implies that we only feel beautiful when we wear makeup. It implies that we are struggling with self esteem issues merely because we shop at Sephora.
Quite simply, it implies that we aren’t as strong as the women who face the day with bare faces.
As a society, and especially as an internet-bred one, we’ve become incredibly judgmental of one another. We jump to the deepest conclusions about the most superficial things – taking a selfie is a cry for validation, plastic surgery is a surrender to the media, and wearing makeup is a sign of poor self image. When did we all become expert psychologists with enough research to back up such broad claims?
I wear black eyeliner almost every day – I have since I was sixteen. It’s part of my style, the same way my clothes and accessories are part of my overall look. I’m not wearing it out of any insecurities about my face, but simply because I like it. On the days I choose not to wear it, I don’t feel any different. I’m still me.
My makeup bag is filled with dozens of products – cc cream, blush, eyeshadow, lipgloss, mascara, eyebrow powder – you name it, I’ve got it. To me, makeup is an extension of fashion – I like to experiment with trends and colors, which is no different than trying out the latest haircut displayed on the cover of Vogue.
And yes, us women have the advantage of the endless products at our fingertips when we want to cover up a zit or dark under-eye circles. But you cannot tell me that because I dab a drop of concealer on a pimple, it means that I have deep-rooted self esteem issues. Sometimes, a touch of concealer is just a touch of concealer – nothing more.
I know there are thousands of women just like me – women who love browsing the makeup sections of the department stores, women who could spend hours checking out the latest contouring tutorials on YouTube. And so, for these women, I’m going to get on my soapbox. I’ll call it the “your mascara doesn’t make you weak” soapbox.
To these women, I want to say this:
Embracing the “red lip, classic” trend doesn’t translate to insecurity about your natural lips. Just because you love your Diorskin bb cream doesn’t mean you have body image problems. It’s okay that you spent thirty minutes doing your makeup today – it doesn’t mean you are superficial, or shallow – it just means that you have a different routine than the women who don’t wear it.
Different is not better or worse. It’s just different.
You are not less than your makeup-free counterparts, nor are you better than them. You are not weaker, and you are not stronger. You are equal, because you are all women.
You are still you, with your makeup or without it.