Makup On Vanity

Beauty On The Eye Of The Beholder: Makeup as an Empowerment Movement & Art


Art. Known for its subjectivity, the term’s core meaning is rooted in its Latin origin “ars”, meaning skill or craft. Art itself and beyond its definition is, essentially, the range of human activities that express imaginative or technical abilities, meant to transmit, primarily, expression and emotion. Its principles, based on elements such as movement, contrast, texture and color, gives room for creativity to blossom, as well as liberty from sets of specific aesthetic traits - relying on one’s artistic drive. 

Beauty, on the other hand, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind.” That is similar to the concept of art and has also a highly individual notion, based on the feeling provoked by sensory stimulations. So, the true question is: what sets them apart? Art can be deemed beautiful - but why can’t beauty be regarded as artistic? Truth is, it can - and makeup is an example of this possibility.

  1. 1. The face as a canvas 

    A tradition that spans over seven thousand years,  it takes the face as a canvas to portray the artist’s display of just about anything. Initially, the use of cosmetics was linked to rituals, indication of social status, and attempts to impress the gods. The purpose of enhancing one’s beauty, despite being already present in such contexts, gained force with the arrival of the film industry in Hollywood. With it, however, certain standards of beauty ideals were established - and questioned, in protests like the 1968 “Miss America” movement, in which feminists encouraged women to go sans makeup. 

    Since such a historical act, a lot has changed in the makeup scene. Something that used to be a subtle form of oppression became a way to express freedom and embrace uniqueness; it became an art, where individuals were able to experiment with colors, shapes, and designs, to convey creativity on themselves. And the cinematographic experience, opposed to their role executed in the past century, became an inspiration for this wave of self-expression. HBO’s drama Euphoria, for example, has had a huge impact, bringing tendencies such as colorful eyeliners, glittery eyeshadows, color blocking, and other avant-garde looks to the mainstream sphere. 

  2. 2. Makeup & The New Tendencies

    Merely associating makeup to something other than vanity is a statement. Going without cosmetics, in this day and age, can be as empowering as using some and exploring with it, as a form of experimentation and art or just because you want to. Empowerment, basically, comes from the ability to choose, to take pride in oneself, and own your identity. And, by choosing to wear colorful eyeshadow or black lipstick or not a drop of foundation at all, amidst a society that scrutinizes “too much makeup” or “too little” (or, basically, any other form of inventiveness other than what is normalized), is a power move. After all, bending imposed beauty standards to one’s originality and inventiveness is, certainly, a form of empowerment, isn’t it?

Art is ever changing, and, like beauty, its understanding varies from time to time, person to person, country to country, and so on. And makeup, as a convergence of both of these concepts, is nothing short of that - it is, ultimately, your own: decision, creation, and a sort of empowerment. 


The article above was edited by Laura Ferrazzano

Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus Casper Libero for more!