Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Before I had ever picked up a makeup brush, I remember watching some of the original Youtube makeup artists give tutorials on how to wing your eyeliner. Before I had ever picked up a straightening iron I remember hearing my friends talk about how they curled their hair. Before I had ever worn heels I remember seeing fashion dos and don’ts in Seventeen Magazine. I grew up in a time where my sister and I would turn on the television and watch America’s Next Top Model for hours. We were watching beautiful women transform into goddesses through makeup, new hair and a whole new wardrobe. We were in awe at these transformations, how beautiful they were when their faces were baked, their hair curled tightly and their outfits styled by professionals. These women were the peak of feminine performance, and it’s what I strived for as I grew up.

When I actually got into makeup I mostly stuck with eye makeup rather than confusing myself with the whole Idea of priming, contouring, highlighting and all the other complicated procedures that went into creating a beautiful face. It started with mascara. The first time I ever bought mascara was at a five below, just out of curiosity. I had put around $5 into a curiosity of the feminine performance. I started wearing it to school and people would notice. One day while I was sitting in music class my friend stared intensely at my face and asked me if I was wearing makeup. I told her yes. I remember talking to my aunt about the wide array of colors of mascara I had seen available at the five below. I remember my mom telling me that it was better to go with a clear or brown mascara for a more conservative makeup look. Makeup was a part of this female bonding. This practice was something we were expected to engage in, and a lot of us did so with pride. I remember when I finally got eyeliner and how I began to use it every day until the pencil was only a stub, the first mini eyeshadow palette I bought, for about $7, became a part of my regular daily routine. I began to move from the eyelids and start focusing on my eyebrows as well, to the point where even now I can’t go a day without making sure my eyebrows are dark enough.

Makeup had given me a way to cover my insecurities. From my dark eyebrows, to my small eyelids, I was able to add an artificial presentation of myself to the outside world. Two weeks ago I spent $32 ordering a mini Urban Decay palette from Sephora. I’ve been paying money to companies to continue fueling my insecurities. In an economic market that has proven time and time again through the pink tax that one of its goals is to oppress women economically; is makeup another version of that? The body I present to the world is not one that I’m connected with, but one that has been manufactured by the market. I am only allowing people to make money off of my shame of living outside of the marketable standards of beauty. But then again I enjoy makeup. I enjoy getting ready for parties with my friends and experimenting with different palettes. I enjoy styling my hair with different hair clips. I enjoy dressing up and being beautiful.

I want to have fun, but I also don’t want to do so by spending money within a system that preys on women. I want to talk to other women about female practices, but I also don’t want to perpetuate the idea that these practices are in any way natural. I want to feel beautiful, but I also don’t want to do so by allowing others to tell me what beauty is. Should I accept the system or reject it? Is there any way to empower myself within this system after it’s been so deeply rooted within my life and the culture around me? How do I gain confidence within my insecurities when they’ve been at the front of my mind from a young age? I can’t answer the big question on whether or not makeup is a tool that is for or against feminism because all that makeup is is an object. Makeup is an object that has been marketed to us as “necessary” to be a woman. No baby is born with a makeup brush in their hand, so why should we accept that as the rules of womanhood?

Freshman at DePauw studying Film Studies and Philosophy. I have a huge interest in female underground artists and their influences.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️