Women get asked a lot about their makeup. Often in a format where someone is telling them they’d look better without it. This is a very frustrating, and frankly, complicated, question for most women to answer. On Reddit, one woman tried to explain why the answer “I only wear makeup for me, other people” bothers her. This sparked a long discussion about all the reasons why women choose to wear makeup.
The Reasons Why Women Wear Makeup
Before reading this, take a minute to think about why you wear (or don’t wear) makeup. Not just one reason, but all of them. Chances are, there’s a decent number. This woman realized this about herself, as well. She began to think about why women who say they only wear makeup for themselves rub her the wrong way. She wrote her opinions on this on Reddit to start a conversation about the many reasons why women wear makeup. (1)
“I constantly see this come up in memes on Facebook, discussions on reddit, especially as rebukes to men, generally – but not exclusively. That women do makeup for themselves, not for you. That makeup is a form of self-expression and women wear it for themselves, to the point that this seems to be the only acceptable opinion on why you may want to wear makeup,” she wrote. “I hate having some person tell me they hate when women wear makeup (lol usually lies), or what have you, but I find the constant “we only wear it for ourselves” mentality bothersome.”
Her Two Reasons Why
She realized that there are two main reasons why the statement bothers her are:
- Women wear makeup for a variety of reasons, boiling it down to one just doesn’t make sense, and,
- Intentionally or not, it puts down other women who recognize that they have other reasons for why they wear makeup.
She does wear makeup for herself and as a form of self-expression. She also says she would be lying if she said she also uses it to appear more attractive to others.
“I wear it to look pretty on a night out on the town, usually specifically so people will think I look good and hopefully I can catch the attention of a “potential sutor”, for lack of a better term. I wear makeup on dates to look attractive for the other person. I wear makeup at work sometimes to look better to my coworkers, despite not being in a makeup friendly industry. I’ve even worn makeup at work on days I felt like I would be treated better for it. I wear makeup in photos I post online so I can track progress and post cool looks I do as a form of self expression, I also do it because I want to show my friends and again “potential suitors” I’m attractive. I enjoy getting likes and reacts from my photos. Who doesn’t?”
“I’m Not Like Other Girls”
She also said that she finds the “I solely do it for myself” girls in a similar vein to the “I’m not like other girls” women. Essentially, they are saying that they are somehow better than other women because they don’t wear it to attract men.
“I find this comes into the “I do it for myself only” crowd as it’s a way to validate their love of makeup to the world by saying they aren’t like those other girls who are doing it for so-called attention-seeking behaviour. That yeah, okay, those women who do makeup for reasons other than themselves are attention seeking tramps, but I do it for myself so I’m better.” she said.
The Internet’s Opinion
Her comments prompted a wider discussion on the reasons why women wear makeup. More importantly, why all the reasons are valid and okay. The main opinion was that the correct answer to “Why do you wear makeup” is “because I want to”. You don’t need to justify it with anything more.
“I feel like everyone is missing the point by not trying to ask why makeup needs to be justified at all... makeup can be shamed as frivolous femoid bullshit while simultaneously being taken as a requirement for correctly performing your gender. These two perspectives are not contradictory because they are both rooted in disrespect for women and the gap between the “perfect” woman (effortlessly sexy, selfless, mindless) and the messy reality that is actual women, with thoughts and bodies, and other inconvenient bits that get in the way of their “purpose” as a class that provides sexual and emotional labor.
“Women’s things” are meaningless because women can’t possibly come up with anything thoughtful, but god forbid you don’t put something on to make yourself more appetizing to men. And god forbid you do something that might make you appetizing to a lot of men at once, instead of the one man who “owns” you.” wrote one person.
“I hate when someone tries to make me justify my makeup. Why does it matter what my reason/s for doing my makeup a certain way are? How does the state of my face or the colour of my lips affect your life in any way?” wrote another.
The majority of the people commenting all agreed with her – we all wear makeup for a variety of reasons. For ourselves, for the ritual of putting on and experimenting with looks, and to look good when we are out. This is of course about our own self-confidence, but who doesn’t love receiving compliments from others?
It Can Be Empowering
We all know of the societal pressure to wear makeup and the impossible beauty standards put on women every day. The beautiful thing is aside from pressure to wear makeup, once it is in your hands, you are in control. In its own way, this is incredibly empowering. If you choose to use makeup, you get to choose how. There are a million and one ways to wear it. How you decide is entirely dependent on how you. How you want to express yourself and what “look” you want to go for. That, in itself, is kind of cool. (2)
Makeup is also not women attempting to deceive men. Many women start wearing makeup in the first place because society says the flaws in our skin are not acceptable. Then people make comments about how horrible we are for using it and that it is deceptive. For example, comments that you should take a girl swimming on the first date to see her “real” face. These comments imply, yet again, that a woman’s value is in their beauty alone. (3)
Long Story Short: Do What Makes You Happy And Confident
Women, unfortunately, are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Wear makeup and you get “cake face” remarks about how you’d be prettier without it. Don’t wear it, and people ask if you’re unwell, tired, or you are simply ignored. According to society, wearing it means you are high maintenance and care “too much”. Also, not wearing it means that you are unprofessional or don’t care enough. So my advice to women? Wear makeup if you want to, don’t if you don’t. Wear however much you want to, in whatever style or format. Finally, when someone asks you why you wear it or any other comment, simply say “because I want to, that’s why”, and move along. They don’t deserve your reasons or your time.
- “The problem with the “Women only do makeup for themselves” mentality..” Reddit
- “This Beauty Study Proves What Women Have Been Saying All Along About Makeup.” Bustle. Kali Borovic. October 25, 2017
- “Using makeup doesn’t hide women’s ‘real’ beauty, it hides the labor that goes into meeting beauty standards.” NBC News. November 6, 2018.