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makeup and femininity

There was a recent article on Xo Jane that talked about women, makeup and men’s perceptions of women and makeup. It reminded me a lot of this comic I’d seen circulating around on tumblr (see featured image). I laughed, but also felt annoyed. It’s true; I’ve experienced this before from the men in my life and even strangers on the street, who feel it is their duty to comment on my appearance. My father told me he hates my bright lipstick colours and prefers when I’m wearing little to no makeup. He’s definitely asked if I’m sick when I’m wearing no makeup at all.

The article was written after another article at another magazine was written, asking men about women and makeup. Because their opinions are important. Here are some quotes:

Nobody wants to kiss a clown!

I think most women, my fiancée included, are pretty enough and don’t need a lot of makeup.

This last comment obviously assumes that these “pretty enough” women don’t need makeup to appear to attractive to men, because that’s the only reason they’d wear makeup, yeah? And these “pretty enough” women who don’t “need” makeup all have perfect skin tone too, of course.

When I dress up, I generally dress rather femme – I am usually wearing makeup when I’m out and half the time I’m wearing lipstick. I still sometimes buy into that horrible stereotype that if I don’t visibly put an effort into my appearance, I’ll be seen as the sloppy, messy chick. I feel uncomfortable and too visible if I’m NOT wearing makeup. People will see that my skin tone isn’t entirely even, that my eyebrows are unruly, that my lashes stick out instead of curl up, that my lips are dry and flaky. So, I perform my femme routine and put makeup on. It makes me feel better about myself and more confident. I wish it didn’t but it does. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel better about myself, even if it is buying into the dominant paradigm.

But my feminine performance when I’m dressed up is not to invite male commentary.

My unfeminine self is also not up for commentary or discussion.

I’m not so sure why it’s so hard for some people to understand that a woman’s body and her face and the way she chooses to dress that body and face is not their right to comment on, unless that woman expressly invites the person to do so.

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One thought on “makeup and femininity

  1. Good point, but could the men interviewed say anything different? If they suggested women should wear more makeup more often, they’d cop a lot of abuse for it.

    Perhaps some of their comments are inspired by not wanting the women around them to fall into some kind of trap about their appearance?

    Personally, I tend to wear makeup for interviews, on some special occaisions, or if I’m feeling ridiculously self-conscious about a breakout (cause I’d rather put a few minutes into covering it than fret about it all day). There’s nothing wrong with it, but everyone has an opinion.

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