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Alright, Ladies, Gents, and Theys! Let’s Talk Makeup!

More specifically let’s talk about the unspoken “rules” society has on makeup and how we can say no to these “rules”. I don’t know about you but I feel like it’s pretty fucked up for something as carefree and liberating like makeup to have restrictions, especially since makeup is harming no one. So let’s just jump right into these unspoken “rules” society loves to use.

  1. Makeup is for Ladies Only!

So what’s up with the majority of society silently agreeing that makeup should really only be worn by ladies? Since when did makeup have a vagina? Never! Everyone can and should have access to makeup if they so desire it. Makeup is basically another art form and art has no gender, so why does society act like makeup does? To back up this fact of makeup being a liberating art form for everyone, David Yi, founder of men’s beauty site Very Good Light, shares, “I love makeup, and I love the way it makes me feel. It makes me feel more powerful and sexy and masculine.” This further shows that makeup is also something people (Keyword: PEOPLE!) use as a way for self-confidence or self-care on top of it being a form of self expression. So “rule #1” makeup is for ladies only is FALSE! That is equivalent to saying skincare or earrings are for ladies only. One way we can break down this barrier is to normalize or encourage any guy or they friends out there wanting to use makeup but may be scared to. Also simply bringing this topic up and openly talking about it at appropriate times can help break down this “rule”. 

  1. You Can Only Wear Makeup Going Out!

Feel free to raise your hand or say “Amen!” if you have ever been in a situation where you’re all dolled up by wearing a full face of makeup or even just a small hint of makeup and someone has the audacity to say, “Oh, where are you going all dolled up?” or “ Who are you all dressed up for?” Now, I’m sure these people asking these questions certainly mean no harm. After all, they simply may just be curious trying to start a conversation with you, but if you’re in any shape, way, or form like me, it kind of pisses you off. Because even though they don’t mean it in this context, these questions are basically saying that I, as a human being, can only be allowed to wear makeup, or to look pretty, if I was going to some special event or if I was going to go meet up with someone important. Now obviously you can wear makeup whatever you want to, like in these above scenarios, but why is it that society makes it feel like these are the only acceptable scenarios when wearing makeup? 

 To prove that makeup is not something people choose to only do when going out, I reached out to a few fellow college students, asking them why they personally choose to wear makeup. The first response is from a Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies Junior student. This student shared, “I wear makeup because it is fun to do and gives me a new look. I find it interesting how people do intricate looks. Plus sometimes it makes me feel better about myself.” Another answer I received was, “I wear makeup because I want to. I think it’s fun to do and I love to see how the end product turns out, see how products perform, and it makes me feel like a princess.” Both of these responses continue to imply that neither person was wearing makeup because they had a special event or an important someone to see or impress. Rather this is something they did solely for themselves, regardless if it was to see how products perform, to see other peoples looks, or just to feel like royalty. 

  1. Creative Makeup Looks Should not be Worn in Public

One form of makeup that has just blown up within the past 5 years or so is creative makeup. Creative makeup is slightly different from “normal makeup” in the sense that it can be anything from SFX makeup, full body paint makeup, or makeup including paint, gems, and other intricate decorations. I am actually a fellow creative MUA for the fun of it. One thing that I have learned within this art form is that it is either strange or weird to show creative looks in public. For example if I wore a glam eyeshadow look for everyday wear it is somewhat acceptable, but if I decided to draw a red diamond-studded intricate drawing of a dragon on my face then it would be viewed as weird or something that you should not wear casually in public. This is actually something that I did last year. I was playing around with makeup and I was inspired by a fellow makeup artist that I follow on Instagram, • 𝐉 𝐀 𝐍 𝐀 𝐍 𝐈 . ジャナニ (@jananiselvaradj) • Instagram photos and videos. I did a small drawing of a dragon across my face with the red and gold gems scattered across. I have always loved to break the normal rules society has, especially anything related to makeup. So when I was offered to eat lunch with friends of mine I said yes and I decided to wear this unusual beautiful look in the dining hall on my campus. To my surprise I did not get a single negative comment or reaction. In fact, most people were shocked and loved my look or they were genuinely curious as to if I did it myself or if I got it done somewhere else. But not once did someone tell me to take it off my face or to not do that again. College students and faculty and staff alike all loved my look. There were a few instances where I got some taken back reactions but nothing negative at all. So with this personal experience it makes me wonder why in the world society decided to make it a “rule” that creative makeup should not be worn casually in public if everyone that came across me loved my look?

  1. Makeup is for the Attention of the Male Gaze!

Now this one is definitely another very strong unspoken “rule” or stereotype that people have about those who wear makeup, especially females that wear makeup. It kind of goes back to my earlier statement about how people feel that wearing makeup is only allowed if you’re going to see someone important or going out. The amount of times that I have heard someone make rude sexist comments because a lady was getting harassed based on not what she wore, but rather the makeup she had on. Unfortunately, this is something that to this day is still extremely normalized, the argument about makeup being used to get the attention of potential males. Now obviously people can choose to wear makeup for this reason but this is completely false in the sense of why all women wear makeup. After interviewing other college students the more responses I got continued to prove the majority decides to wear makeup because it is therapeutic in some way. They were not wearing makeup to get the attention of someone they like or just to get attention from the male population in general. I believe this extremely sexist “rule” also reinforces the fact that if not all of these “rules” in this article, most of them are probably male oriented and created from the beginning. One way that we can take down this false belief that makeup is worn for the attention of the male gaze is to just bring an awareness of the empowerment makeup creates for all genders.

Slowly but surely one day we’ll all wake up in a world where makeup is makeup. Makeup is NOT just for the attention of the male gaze. Makeup is NOT restricted to just females. Makeup CAN BE creative and normalized in public. Makeup is JUST AS impacting going out in or staying in binge watching Netflix. 

Chloe Pearson

Winthrop '24

Just a God-fearing chica that is way to addicted to makeup and about $80,000 in student debt. We love… Hopefully the next best MUA and NY best time selling author. Work hard and dream big!
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