I was chatting with a Twitter friend this morning about the school run and I was bemoaning that fact that virtually all the other mums I meet first thing when I drop off at nursery at 8 are fully made up, beautifully coiffured and frankly looking ready for their TV closeup. I on the other hand – to coin my mother’s favourite phrase- look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. I NEVER wear makeup on the school run (unless heading there prior to a meeting). I rarely bother to brush my hair (unless heading there prior to a meeting), I also never bother dressing up, or wearing heels…For the school run, are you kidding? (Unless heading there prior to a meeting)…You get the picture.
So those meetings…Make Up. Making up. It’s all Made up. And that’s it isn’t it? It’s false, fake, made up. Not real. It covers what lies beneath. And why? I’m no Grace Kelly, but I’m not hideous either. But even if I were hideous – by our bizarre arbitrary social standards, would it matter that I hadn’t caked on foundation and mascara? What difference does a slightly less blotchy complexion and slightly more obvious eyelashes make, to me or to anyone else. Answer? Quite a lot it would seem. According to the Daily Mail (I know, I know – don’t bother with the article), the average woman spends 43 weeks of her life applying makeup. Now this sounds far fetched, so lets reduce by 90 percent, that’s still a full month. Just think what you could achieve if you were given a WHOLE month back? Lots probably.
I know why I wear makeup. It provides the mask for one of the faces I wear. For those who didn’t read my post on this, please see here. I wear make up when I need protecting, when I need something to hide behind. When I want to hide my tiredness. When I feel threatened by beauty or youth-it’s self-preservation. I make no apologies for my insecurities, they’re a part of me. Most days they don’t rear their head, but I do recognise that how I feel I’m seen, how I see myself physically seems to matter to me – certainly enough to waste my time applying a different colour to my eyelids.
I’m certain there are a multitude of essays and articles by feminists and not-so-feminists on makeup and our reasons for wearing it, but I can only really talk to my own experience of why. I find it very interesting that I had an abusive partner who hated me to wear makeup, while most others have not shown an interest one way or another. And yet, it’s a billion dollar industry with many men at its helm. It’s clearly linked to the myth of beauty and youth being inextricably intertwined.
I’m going to find out more about this, if you have any reading material let me know. I think as a subject of conformity and objectification it’s fascinating. I think as an innocuous tool to perpetuate myths about who women are and how we behave “off in pairs to the loo to touch up our makeup together” it also has a very prominant seat at the table of every day sexism. And that’s something I want to be understanding, recognising and calling out.