Makeup: a part of our morning routine and an increasingly important part of our modern culture. We see it in the makeup tutorial videos dominating our social media newsfeeds. We see it in the thousands of dollars women spend annually on cosmetics. We see it in the growing number of YouTube personalities that dedicate their channel to reviewing the latest and greatest makeup products. While some view this makeup culture as a fun form of self-expression, others have quite harsh critiques. Sentiments such as “this is false advertising,” or “this is why you take her swimming on the first date” often dominate the comments section of these makeup videos, leaving us to ask whether or not these full-faced beauties really are deceiving us all.
I see before-and-after photos of women with and without their makeup followed by a scrutinizing “this is why I have trust issues”. These ‘before photos’ are often plagued by unwanted acne, scars, and dark circles, while the after photos show airbrushed complexions, rosy cheeks, perfectly crafted eyeliner. I am not here to convince you that these “before-photo” flaws are desirable. When I, and millions of other women, look in the mirror we want to see clear skin, rosy cheeks, and perfectly blended eye makeup—but unfortunately, no one was born with a perfect contour. Regardless of our natural flaws, we are programmed to seek out the flawless face, even despite the significant amount of time and money it requires. The magazines we read and the television shows we watch demand that our birthmarks, moles, and freckles be concealed under a layer of $50 foundation.
Our eyes crave pretty people and pretty reflections—this is simply our inevitable doom. We cannot slander and shame those who want to date pretty women or look like pretty women, however, when we judge women for trying to conform to society’s image of beauty artificially through makeup, that is when we should be truly ashamed of ourselves. Women can never seem to win. If they let their flaws shine through with a bare-face, they are deemed ugly, lazy, or simply not concerned with their appearance. Yet conversely, women who spend the hours to achieve that flawless look are condemned for deceiving the world around them
These people who thoughtlessly post, “this is why I have trust issues,” are most likely oblivious to the endless hours women everywhere spend in front of the mirror, wishing, and longing and hoping, that the beauty they create through makeup could come naturally. Do these commentators not realize that if women had the ability to obtain naturally perfect complexions and naturally curled eyelashes, they would take the opportunity in a heartbeat? These women are not trying to manipulate you, or trick you, they are simply making a choice. Either they are judged for their imperfections or they are judged for trying to hide them, many just choose the latter.
Unfortunately, I, too, used to be part of the crowd who condemned women for caking on makeup. The clear-skinned version of myself used to simply suggest, “just go natural, it looks prettier”—little did I know the trauma that comes with dealing with severe acne. At the beginning of my freshman year of college, my skin took a very downward spiral. Days where I once was able to walk out of the house bare-faced without a second thought, turned into days of layering concealers and foundations in a desperate attempt to hide the face I loathed. Quite honestly, covering up these acne spots with makeup became a literal survival tactic; this foundation allowed me to leave my house without erupting into a puddle of tears.
While there are cases like mine, where makeup acts as a preserver of self-confidence, believe it or not, woman can simply wear makeup for the hell of it. A woman should be able to wake up in the morning, take forty-five minutes crafting the perfect winged eyeliner, and not have to answer to anyone. Though no one should have to explain or justify their makeup use, makeup can easily be considered yet another form of artwork, or even just another hobby. Who’s to say that makeup is only a step in a beauty routine? Why couldn’t it be equal to having an interest in painting, or writing, or another other artistic activity? It is very possible that the woman, whom you believe is trying to deceive you, doesn’t give two sh*ts about what you think, and simply does her makeup because she loves to do it.
With that in mind, before we demean these women for filling in eyebrows and layering their faces with expensive concealers, we must realize that this makeup we see may be the only thing keeping their self-confidence intact, that this part of their morning routine may be the very thing that helps them get through the entirety of their day. Take the time to acknowledge that many of these women who hide behind their makeup, dream daily about escaping their paralyzing skin conditions or annoying “flaws.” When a woman puts on her makeup in the morning, she may put it on to cope with her acne. She may put on her makeup to conform to the beauty standards she’s been forced to live up to. She may even put her makeup solely because she wants to. But I can assure you, she has never put on her makeup to intentionally deceive you. With that, unless you have experienced the devastation of plummeting self-confidence, acne-induced depression, or oppressive beauty standards, you are in no place to call a makeup artist a con-artist. And ladies, just in case someone dares to question your makeup, and your beauty, always keep your eyeliner sharp enough to kill a man.