Make Up. I’m all made up, at least on the surface.

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.


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2 Responses to Make Up. I’m all made up, at least on the surface.

  1. That’s a complicated subject, I hate that women are considered better when using make up, I hate when people demonize make up as something to please men and look beautiful for others. Make up and products like that are more complicated if you take in consideration different groups that use them, a white woman with make up is different from a woman of color using those products, same thing for disabled people that are constantly considered genderless, trans women have complex reasons to use it, hetero women and lesbians are seen differently too, too many differences.
    I have seen some judgemental writing about people that wear make up, normally coming from the same kind of feminist that refuse to see the differences and refuse to see that in the end it’s not about eliminating make up but giving people free choices of what they really want to do with their bodies, no one should feel they should use make up or that they shouldn’t it use it (I’ve met some people that were told they couldn’t be feminists if they use make up and a lot of myths about people that identify as femme, like I consider myself to be).
    I love using make up and I consider that I use it for myself, I actually don’t use it much in social situations because of my limited energy I can’t deal with people and situations while using make up and uncomfortable clothes, I don’t like men looking at me and I have no interest in them but was told that’s why I use it and that I’m harming women because of it, I also love going out without make up, most days because I don’t want to and others because my disabilities don’t allow it to use it, some things like high heels I never use it and hate it, I dress very “feminine” and enjoy it, other days I dress men clothing. My reason to use make up is because I like it, I don’t like how people judge me by it, they think I’m a straight woman because of it when I’m neither of those.
    What I’m trying to explain is that the reasons are complicated and it gets more complex with the social differences and and that only some people are considered feminine and real women. There are myths about women wearing make up, there are myths about people wearing make up being seen as something they might not be and there are myths about women that don’t wear make up.
    We should be free to dress the way we want to, that includes not using make up and using it, it also includes not being judge by our choices and how we look, sadly we are far from living like this.

    • bloggingdame says:

      Thank you very much for such a comprehensive comment. You’re right, there are so many aspects to the subject and much of it is very personal. But agree with you completely, choice is the important thing and not berating others for their choice. Thanks again, CB

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