Inspired by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett‘s ‘Why do girls wear makeup?’ article (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/21/why-do-girls-wear-makeup-google-answer), I wanted to try and write my own opinion. I did use her article as a guide to how I approached this. 🙂
Dating as far back as 10,000 BCE (yes, Jesus wasn’t even born yet), men and women have experimented with cosmetics for thousands of years. From Geishas to The Renaissance period, cosmetics have been a massive cultural influence and a form of artistic expression that continuously evolves.
Today we are still influenced by the styles and techniques used way before our generation. Whether it’s rocking the winged eyeliner – if you’re skilled enough not to redo it 384134 times and can cope with the side of your eyes starting to feel like sandpaper – or knowing not to apply a dense amount of vivid green eyeshadow, makeup has become a part of society and for a lot of people, part of their daily routine.
But what is the real reason we are so enraptured with modifying our features? Is it mainly to enhance confidence? Has it become such a social norm it’s been integrated into daily routines without question?
Well if you actually ask a group of girls why they wear makeup, the array of responses would be infinite and as varied as the women themselves. And the answers I’ve collected represent just that.
“I was asked this question before. When I said it helped me feel confident, people immediately misinterpreted and came to judgement that I was very insecure,” said one student “but that’s really not the case. Makeup has been a form of expression and a way of saying ‘look at me and see how good I am at enhancing my features. I can even transform myself into a different image you wouldn’t expect.’”
Others summed up makeup as “fun” and are used to the whole “routine”. Although there are many of those who feel it’s for personal satisfaction and not anyone’s else’s business, there are just as many who feel inadequate without it. Some even went to the extent of saying “I can’t even leave the house without a little bit of foundation or mascara.” Even the smallest product can be a source of comfort and become a catalyst for attracting attention
When it comes down to psychology however, makeup does come down to attraction. The products are meant to enhance features; the physical features between men and women are highlighted and the desirable aspects men look for are emphasised. However, different cultures have different beauty ideals. Universally, factors such as facial symmetry and even skin tone, both suggesting good health, are appreciated.
Whilst there are many who go out bare faced, today’s society is ironic in itself. Makeup has become such an overlooked and pervasive commodity, there are challenges out there such as the viral ‘don’t judge me’ and ‘no makeup’ which even celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger and Jennifer Lopez took part in. Albeit I recognise the ‘no-makeup challenge’ is a way of celebrating the natural aspect of a woman’s beauty and has managed to raise £2 million for Cancer Research, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that a newspaper had published a list of famous models without makeup.
Another way we are subliminally manipulated is through cosmetic companies who start to see money due to our insecurities. Let’s take Maybelline’s motto that goes something like ‘maybe she’s born with it, but you’re not so great with those eye bags and need this concealer to look more natural.’ Nothing else could be a better epitome of a business pawn, though I must admit it’s not a bad one. The UK makeup industry is worth £17 billion. On average, a woman would spend up to £15,000 on cosmetics in her life. It may seem preposterous, but if you’re an avid makeup fan, you know the consistent replacements you need for most items.
In spite of these influences from showbiz-based articles, we also have boybands who claim your flaws are what makes you beautiful and you don’t need to change your appearance. Then they have beautiful girls, all wearing makeup obviously or subtly, appearing in their music videos. Spectacular.
But overall, why do women wear makeup overall?
I think the reason we wear makeup cannot be due to one outstanding factor alone. Maybe we are all aware of the money-making machines, the social expectations that have been ingrained into our mindset, the influence celebrity culture actually has. Instead we ignore all of that. Maybe some just purely enjoy the freedom of creativity.
All of this makes me wonder however, is makeup an underlying form of repression our society still has? Is patriarchy be prominent in these items?