Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm prettier with makeup.

I'm going to make myself a little vulnerable here on the world wide web. Now that I have a daughter, I'm facing some hard questions about myself. For instance, makeup is a topic I'm personally struggling with off and on, especially since my oldest son has asked me on more than one occasion what I was doing while applying makeup and WHY I was doing it. I had no good answer and I stumbled over my words trying to explain myself. Why do we wear it? ESPECIALLY since my husband thinks I'm more beautiful without it (which completely floored me when he expressed this before we were even married). When I ask myself this question, I find that most of my answers sound pitiful and more like excuses. For example:
  • I look prettier when I wear it.
  • My eyes look small and beady without it.
  • I look washed out without it.
  • Makeup makes me look more awake and put together. (It's literally a mask!)
  • I get more respect in the work place. (has not been solidly tested, but I tell myself this)
  • I don't want my blemishes/flaws to be distracting in conversation. I want people to see me and not my flaws. (How ridiculously backwards that sounds!)
  • Women (and sometimes men) have been wearing makeup for centuries and it's a normal, expected way of life!

Maybe it's different for you. Either way, what matters most to me is the opinion of God and my family. And neither of them are putting pressure on me to wear makeup. So who is? Our culture, peers, media, makeup companies. Why do girls think they look prettier with makeup? Because all the famous, "pretty" people do it, I suppose. And because makeup/fashion companies are selling us that idea. It frustrates me to realize that I'm so swayed by that. And it also frustrates me that men (the other half of the human race, you know) typically don't wear it to even out their skin-tone, cover dark circles, etc. They aren't lining their eyes to make them stand out and putting blush on their cheeks to look sun-kissed. So this is obviously a female issue. We consider ourselves equal in value to men, yet we tell ourselves that our physical appearance needs major improvement and their physical appearance does not. We're covering up our faces so we look different than how we really appear. Are we that hideous? Really? Who told us that? I feel pretty brainwashed when I think through this topic. I'm sure there are a ton of articles and opinions already out there, and I could take this to an unhealthy extreme. And I don't think girls are supposed to be the exact same as men. But I think this question of makeup is a good one to ask ourselves. But I also want to be careful as to not press my own revelation and discovery on this topic onto others. I do not and will not judge women for wearing makeup (I'm wearing makeup as I type this, although I left off eyeliner and blush this morning due to this inner battle I'm having.) I'm just struggling with the idea of it altogether because when Mirabelle or Oliver or Benjamin ask me about it I want to have a confident answer and I want my actions to be true to what I say is the truth.

When I think about what I desire in life it comes down to relationship. I desire a close relationship with God and honest relationships with other human beings. I want to be loved for who I really am and I want to know others for who they really are. I do love getting compliments about how I look like any girl OR guy does. But not any more than compliments on my character, intelligence and actions. Where do I get the idea that I look better with makeup versus without? What does makeup achieve for me? Have you ever confronted yourself with this question? Did you arrive at an answer for yourself? I'd appreciate honest thoughts, but let's be nice and respect one another if you do have something to share. As physical as makeup is, I think it reaches a deeper emotional place in us than we realize. Otherwise it wouldn't be so hard sometimes to go without it.

And lastly, I realize that my decisions about makeup and how I see myself will affect more than my daughter, but my two sons as well and how they see women and themselves. This is no light subject when you have a huge part in forming the worldview of other human beings.

Phew. There it is. I'm rarely one to stir up conversation or put forth opinions. Ever. I haven't even arrived at an opinion here and I'm still nervous! But thank you for listening and loving me through it. :)


Karli said...

i grew up with no makeup in our house. my mom was a jock and my dad hated when she wore she never did. when i started to get a little older i really liked makeup and painting my nails and doing my hair (all things my mom never showed me how to do). i always thought it was just kind of fun and not really something that had much to do with making me look different but more a hobby or artistic type of thing.

now at times i struggle with the fact that I wear it all the time because then people tell me i look really tired when i have a rebellious day (like you) and decide to not wear it. i think like anything, if used in moderation and with subtlety it can be fun in the same way dressing up or buying new shoes can be fun. i think it can also be an opportunity for self-care...something that makes you feel good.

But of course like with everything materialistic it can rear quite an ugly head and become an obsession.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's a right or wrong when it comes to makeup, but I appreciate the deeper questions you bring up regarding how we see ourselves with and without it - as women, where does our value come from? You could ask the same questions about dressing up, I think.

I wasn't taught anything about makeup by my mom, who seldom wears any, but I wore makeup every single day of my life when I worked in an office (almost 30 years of office work) because I felt undressed without it. It was as much a part of dressing for work as heels and hose (that's how old I am!).

Now? I work from my couch alongside my husband, and he doesn't give a fig whether I'm made up or not. In fact, when I do put makeup on, he immediately assumes I'm going somewhere, and "that face" is for someone else, which is kind of sad!

Honestly, I think most of us, as women, wear makeup and dress up more to impress other women than for any other reason. So if we're examining our motives for wearing makeup, we should probably examine our motives for a lot of other actions we take for the sake of appearance as well. I'll continue to wear makeup occasionally because I do feel prettier with it on, and feeling pretty is important to me, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I also paint my toenails - show me a guy who does that! (Don't get me started, though, when it comes to little girls in grade school wearing makeup!)