My Relationship with Makeup

As a little girl, I would dream of the day I would cover myself in bright blushes, shiny shadows and luscious lipsticks. I would imagine my face without imperfections, looking like the women on the cover of the magazines my mom would have out on the counters. “Then,” I thought to myself, “I will finally be pretty.”

After much begging, my mom finally let me buy a small pack of makeup. I could only wear it during dress-up time at home, but still, it was makeup! I put it on, excited to look like the cover models, turned to the mirror, and my heart sank. I looked like a clown! I practiced, though, and finally I started looking how I wanted. Of course, I look back at these old photos of myself and wonder how I ever thought what I done to my face was attractive. Yet I was a satisfied 10 year old with smeared makeup across my face, finally thinking I was pretty.

And as I sit here as a nineteen year old woman, bare faced, I have to wonder “how could this ever be helpful to little girls?” It’s an internal debate I struggle with constantly. How can makeup be empowering, how can it be seen as anything other than a way to cover up natural blemishes and imperfections?

The argument for make-up is that it empowers women by allowing them to look their best and feel good about themselves. But the reason they feel good about themselves is because they are being made into an artificial perfection, so how is that empowering? We have been led to believe through makeup that women can naturally look perfect. Every celebrity, every movie and tv actor is caked with makeup to look perfect. Yet, that is society’s standard of beauty. I am guilty of this, too. When I see friends without makeup on, I think to myself, "oh, they look worse than normal." But they don’t! They just look natural, and I am attuned to a superficial natural.

When I choose to wear makeup, it’s because I think my face needs enhancement. I feel although other women may give other reasons to wear makeup, they are thinking the same thing. I wear makeup when I go out, so I can be noticed. Maybe that’s by men, maybe just by people I am surrounded by, but I want to seem pretty to others, so I make my face unnaturally perfect. I feel good when I wear makeup. I feel horrible when I take it off. How can changing the way you look to fit a societal standard be healthy for women? I want to be wrong, I want there to be a way where makeup being an empowering thing makes sense, so please try to persuade me.

Celebrities won’t show their faces until they have put makeup. Girls wake up and won’t leave the house until they are wearing makeup, and when they do they apologize for it! They apologize for going out and being a natural human being! That seems so wrong to me. Yet, I will continue to wear makeup when I go out, constantly asking myself why I am doing it and what it means for myself. I ask you to do the same. Why am I wearing this? Who told me to wear it? Why do I feel better with makeup on?