okay I need to start talking about this because i haven’t seen any discussion of it and it’s bothering me a lot. Even as makeup is used as a tool to make women spend their money, time and energy focusing on their appearance and creating an image of what men find attractive (even if they don’t realize it because it’s encouraged and promoted to them as a normal and even self caring thing to do), i think there’s more complex issues created by the worldwide use of it, and I don’t think all of it was properly talked about.
Firstly, there are women who can’t afford makeup, who are forced to spend all they have on groceries and survival. And just like that, makeup becomes a sign of status. This might seem like a minor issue but it’s because women who are suffering from it are invisible and don’t get to talk about it. There are women who had to simply look at all shining, glamorous painted faces and remind themselves it was never going to be them, and it was because they weren’t worth as much. There are women who have been forced to take on the image of an “ugly girl” and adopted it as their social position, and couldn’t use makeup because it would cause additional humiliation, an “ugly girl” isn’t supposed to try and look pretty, they’re supposed to take the abuse and accept it. If they reach out to makeup it’s a sign that they recognize their own undesirability and would easily get abused for “pathetically wanting to look pretty when they’re not”. Some women were told since the day one they aren’t worthy of makeup, or that even makeup can’t save them, and have been told to keep away from it as they weren’t women enough, weren’t qualified or thin or feminine or desirable enough to even try, they’ve been disregarded as a human being and any sign that they want to fit in is quickly ridiculed as they’re forced back into their place.
Not being able to use makeup for any reason has become an easy way to get socially isolated in circles where makeup has become a regular, must-do thing, if all of your female classmates/colleagues/peers are wearing it, but for any reason you’re not, there is going to be avoidance, blank stares, subtle rejection from socializing, and that is coming from females. Men of course, will pretend you don’t even exist or act like you should stop existing and ruining their view. And that’s just how it’s going to be, of course, you still get assaulted and catcalled and are at the same risk of rape and murder, but add to it that you get zero to no positive attention, and you can’t do anything about it, as long as makeup (and/or fancy clothing) is out of reach.
Makeup has created an additional wedge between females of different social and personal statuses, and the more advertised and normalized it gets, the wedge increases too. 10 years ago minimal makeup was enough to appear attractive and “taking care of her appearance”, to fulfill these standards today you’d have to spend about 5 times as much money, time, practice and skill. Not all women have lives which would allow them this kind of time or resources, and the bar is getting higher and higher. Images with makeup so heavy women no longer resemble anything but plastic dolls are being promoted in every visual media available, and the appearances of the women in public are following suit, what’s with the women who can’t afford to look like that? They don’t get to fit in anymore. They don’t get to feel like they should be in public places. They do’t get to feel like they have the right to show off or date or connect or even desire as much as “pretty women” have. They often feel like they don’t even have a right to confidence. And that is exactly what’s making women who do use make-up so afraid of appearing anywhere without it, they’re scared of being that woman, to be seen like that, judged with those cruel standards and have their humanity revoked. Nobody wants to be subjected to that. But some women have lived like that their entire lives, and didn’t have a choice but to accept that fate.
If I’m seemingly presenting makeup in this writing as a privilege, that’s not what this is about. Women who have lived their entire lives without makeup already know that attention makeup gets is superficial and shallow, and cannot be compared with actual connection to another human being, it’s just attention to a painted face, an image that someone is selling. Even so, it can be addictive, and affect their social standing, job prospects, sense of belonging and community, and personal sense of worth in society.
What I’m trying to say is that it is not fair. It’s inhumane to force appearance-based social system on females. It’s ridiculous to expect from women to sell their appearance in order to get positive attention and humane treatment. It’s inhumane to make them preform an image if they want to be a member of society. It’s inhumane to rate their worth based on that. It’s inhumane to want that image more than you want an actual person. It’s inhumane to make them compete and set the bar higher and higher. It’s inhumane to write off females who wish to have no part in that competition or have been unable to participate in the first place. We’re all worth positive attention. We’re all human beings. We all have value. We all mean something.
This is why I want to fight so bad for rejection of makeup. I know for a lot of women this would mean losing a lot, sometimes losing their entire lifestyle, because they might not have even realized just how much of what they’ve got was only because they kept appearance it was required of them. But it would reduce the wedge between us. It would help show them that we refuse to compete anymore. That they don’t get to rate our worth anymore. That if they want to know us, they better look at a human being that we are. Our unpainted faces show so much more of us, they show our years, our experience, our wisdom, our struggles. We aren’t around as a decoration or for the sake of their view. We’re here to fight anyone who would dehumanize us. I think this is worth more than anything they could ever give us in return for reducing us to “pretty”.