Makeup is a Woman’s Best Frenemy

As of late I have been neglecting my makeup bag in favor of my actual face because I’m lazy and it’s hot.  But alas, as the sun shines in Eugene, the beautiful girls come out to play (and lay) around campus.  In their natural habitat these girls may be found eating a salad, or throwing a frisbee on the LLC lawn.  This species shows great racial and ethnic variety, but their uniting attributes typically include the face of an angel, the body of a Barbie, and all too often, a slight tint of the skin similar to a Cheeto.   As I observe these Angel/Barbie/Cheetos in all their beautiful varieties, the perfect embodiments of female beauty, I find myself thinking “maybe I should wear makeup more often, and wear sweatshirts and/or my little brother’s tee shirts less often”.  This has got me thinking about what I think about makeup, and for the most part I’ve figured out what that is.

On the one hand, I will fight vehemently for my right to utilize makeup to its full extent, knowing all too well that its transformative qualities are both a weapon and a blessing.  On the other hand, I question the message of makeup; what am I telling myself in the morning when I slather my face with skin colored goo and then dress it with sparkles other craft supplies?  For that matter, what am I telling other people with this ritual?  I think the messages ring loud and clear as follows:

1)   I’m telling myself that my face isn’t good enough not to be completely covered up.

2)   And I’m telling other people that I care about what they think about me and that I want to look good.  Yet this message too is delivered with an undertone of insecurity that can’t be denied.

Let’s face it, (note the pun) makeup is bad for your feelings about yourself.  For example, what kind of bulls**t is it that when girls take their makeup off at night, all too often, they look at their reflection with a pained expression, disgusted by their unaltered face?  This has got to be a joke, because I thought makeup was supposed to make people feel better about themselves and clearly that is not what’s happening here.

On a separate note, on the off chance that I do wear makeup, I really resent the compliments I get.  Clearly that’s a very ungrateful thing to say, but when people remark that I look nice on the one day of the week that I choose to wear makeup, all my questions regarding myself and makeup are answered: I look better with it.  I need it to look nice.

So after this little rant, I’m tempted to take my cute little makeup bag and empty its contents into the earth friendly UO compost bins, my middle finger lifted to the man, the makeup counter at the mall, marketing and the absurd societal pressure for women to look like Barbie/Angel/Cheetos in order to be considered beautiful.  But I stop short and lower my finger because on my way to said bins I encounter a Barbie/Angel/Cheeto in the orange, cheesy flesh and realize that as much as I dislike the concept of makeup, it has already completely altered the world’s expectations as to how women should present themselves, and right or wrong, I am going to be judged by these standards.  And as much as I resent the message of makeup, I must admit that its transformative power is all too seductive.  What’s more, I will never be able to fight the Barbie/Angel/Cheetos on this one; they are far too beautiful and orange.

For now, I will continue to shun my makeup bag and grumble about natural beauty and the importance of self-love, but eventually, I will sell out; sweet talk my mascara, romance my bronzer, caress my sparkle powder and just like that, I will cross back over to the orange side, feel self conscious without makeup and be told how nice I look with it. Depending on my mood I will either give a warm smile and a “Thank you” or shout “Makeup is a conspiracy and we’re all just pawns in an age old plot to ruin woman-kind!”

And for now, that’s all the profound I’ve found.

You can read more from Sarah Sharp on her blog.

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