Okay, so maybe I’m not giving up makeup entirely. But I’m definitely cutting way back. It started during Love Your Body week, when there was a day on the schedule with the challenge “Can you go a day without makeup?” Of course, I’ve gone weekends and holidays without putting on makeup on the days when I’m staying in. But I don’t think there’s been a day since middle school where I’ve gone out without wearing my essentials. And when you list them separately, it sounds like quite a lot: lip balm, highlighting primer (sometimes), concealer, BB cream or foundation, tinted eyeshadow primer, shimmer highlight on the browbone, light/medium pink shade on the inner eyelids, dark purple shadow on the outer eyelids, black eyeshadow dusted on the lashline, black kohl eyeliner blended in, eyelash curler, and finally mascara.
That long list of products already says a lot about why not wearing makeup is a good idea. First, with all of the money I’ve spent on beauty products for the past ten years, I could probably pay for a semester of tuition here. Okay, probably/hopefully not that much, but still a lot of money. Second, not putting on all that stuff in the morning gives me almost ten whole extra minutes to sleep. On that first day of no makeup for LYBW, my life was made infinitely easier while getting ready for class. I didn’t have to worry about being late, and believe it or not, I actually wasn’t worried about how I looked. Since I don’t walk around with a mirror all day, at some point after leaving my room, I just forgot that I was even going without makeup.
The initial concerns I had about not wearing makeup also say something about why makeup can be kind of damaging – not just to your pores, but to your mind. Worrying about having a skin tone that’s “too pale” without bronzer to make you look tan or eyes that look “too small” without eyeliner and mascara to make them look more defined are the result of societal pressures to look a certain way. Society and the media propagate images of men and women that dictate standards for beauty, even though many of these images are Photoshopped, as we’ve talked about. This includes a flawless golden skintone, shiny pink lips, big eyes lined with dark eyeshadow and eyeliner, and long eyelashes. And no one wakes up in the morning looking like that.
In her book, Full Frontal Feminism, author Jessica Valenti pointed out: “I know that certain things I enjoy – traditional “feminine” things like makeup – are created by a system that says I’m not good enough without it… I’m a fan of makeup and heels – and while I don’t think that makes me any less of a feminist, I don’t think it makes me any more of one, either.” Valenti also notes that some women find it empowering to wear things like makeup and high heels, and that’s okay – but there are also women who feel empowered by not wearing makeup or not looking “traditionally feminine”. Both types of people are justified in that they know what makeup means to society and are aware of their choices. But feeling like you’re not beautiful when you’re not wearing makeup is just sad and wrong. You shouldn’t wear makeup because you think you’re not pretty enough without it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear it at all, but it does mean that you should understand why you wear it.