Are Makeup and Feminism Compatible?

I’ve had a lot of thoughts on this topic for quite some time. I graduated with a Women’s Studies minor, so feminism is really important to me. I also started using makeup more heavily and creatively in college, so I’ve been in constant conflict with my desire to do my makeup and to support a feminist lifestyle.

I know that plenty of women have popularized the idea that “makeup makes me feel empowered so makeup is feminist”. While I like the sound of that idea, there are definitely complexities we have to consider. Makeup is implicitly tied to capitalism and cooperations. Makeup companies want to sell their product to consumers. This is often done by reminding people that imperfections are unacceptable or that there is always another product that they don’t have and need.

Makeup as empowerment is also flawed because it ignores intersectional concerns of feminist theory. Options for women of color have greatly expanded in the past few years, but there are still far fewer choices for them. People of color can’t necessarily explore makeup artistically the same way that a white woman like myself can, and that leads to unfairness. There are also wealth disparities between those who can afford every new Sephora product and those who save a few weeks for one item from the drugstore.

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Kim declares that she feels empowered by both makeup and nude photos. Photo Credit: twitter.com/KimKardashian

All of this is leading up to my personal opinion on makeup and feminism. This is my opinion of course, so it is neither right nor wrong. It’s just what I think. But I wanted to point out the multiple points of view of this issue before I dived in.

I’ve had a complicated journey with makeup. I wore no makeup at all until I was a freshman in college. I occasionally wore it for dance recitals, but otherwise I was disgusted by the use of makeup. I knew I didn’t need to cover anything up and I judged other girls who were “vain” enough to wear makeup in high school.

In college I started to wear eyeliner and mascara. In my junior year things evolved with bold lipsticks and a bit of shadow. Now I’m in a place where I have many palettes and lipsticks and love to create looks. It’s quite a reversal from my judgmental high school days.

I think my attitude in high school was wrong in many ways. I was a little bit of a female misogynist (I’m better than “regular” girls), so I was comfortable judging other girls when they were simply responding to our society’s training that their faces weren’t good enough. I was also ignoring the artistry of makeup. I truly believe that makeup can be used independently from a cover-up as something artistic. My main motivation for using makeup today is that it soothes me in the morning to do something creative just for myself. It is exciting to pick out what colors I will use that day and enhance my favorite features.

In some ways makeup helped me to embrace the femininity I always feared. I always thought I wasn’t girly enough or couldn’t be pretty. Makeup gave me my superpower. When I wear makeup and certain clothes I can make myself “visible”. I used to be completely invisible. I could sit a certain way, wear my hair a certain way, or exude an energy that made me unseen. With makeup I suddenly had the power to switch from an invisible person to a visible one at will. And it was a fascinating study in self- confidence.

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Alicia Keys has been going “no-makeup” for a while because of the stresses of looking put-together constantly. Photo Credit: lennyletter.com

I consistently try to go out without makeup to reassure myself that I don’t “need” it. But I still don’t go to work without a full face and would never attend a first date without it. Because makeup still has some control over me as it does for many people. I still look at my eyelashes and hope they could look like they have mascara on all the time. I have many friends who would rather have a quick routine with no makeup, but know they can’t do so professionally. So we have a long way to go with normalizing makeup as an art independent from female insecurity.

But I don’t see makeup as a flaw in my feminism. Because feminism is about women making the choices they want to without people imposing societal constraints on them. In some ways women don’t have a choice about wearing makeup because we are expected to have it on. This is why many women are told we look “sick” or “tired” when we don’t wear makeup. But judging someone for enjoying makeup and judging someone for wearing none are both incompatible with feminism in some way.

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Cara both declares herself a feminist and wears a full face of makeup in the latest issue of Glamour. Photo Credit: abcnews.go.com

What we need to understand is that there is no perfect form of feminism. Maybe you feel troubled because you like a partner to open the door for you or enjoy being dolled up every day. But what is most important is that we learn about the complexities of societal pressure and try to dismantle them without putting too much pressure on ourselves. Being happy is important too. So put on that red lipstick if it makes you feel good. Support companies that are ethical. And cheer on artists that post no-makeup photos and normalize natural faces like Alicia Keys. As for me, I’m going to keep taking selfies of my makeup skills while ranting about female superhero movies on twitter.

-Kate

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How To: Fill in Your Brows 3 Ways

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Hey everyone! I recently had a few friends request a post on doing your eyebrows. I already wrote a post about the way I most often do my eyebrows here, but this post is more about giving newbies options and details on various methods for doing your eyebrows. My method isn’t right for everyone, so I decided to branch out a bit. Read on for more! Continue reading

Is Cutting Your Hair Brave?

For those of you who don’t know, I work in a hair salon. I welcome clients at the front desk and check them out, so I have a lot of interactions with people who are cutting or coloring their hair. When working in this environment I’ve heard a comment that I’m pretty used to by now: “I love you hair! It’s so brave that you cut it all off!”

I’ve had a pixie cut for about 3-4 years, so I’m pretty used to people commenting on it. But sometimes it really bothers me that someone would consider my haircut “brave”. But we hear these kinds of comments all the time. It isn’t just with hair but also when you wear an atypical color or have a ton of visible tattoos. The comment comes out like a compliment, or is usually said in a very nice way. But it feels a little bit like a way to point out that someone is going against the norm. That they would have to be brave to do what they’ve done because they’re facing judgement.

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“Why does everyone keep talking about my haircut and not my charity work?” Photo Credit: prettydesigns.com

I’m not here to insult people who use these comments. They are usually trying to be nice and I often take what they say to be kind or intended as a compliment. But I wonder, what is so brave about cutting your hair into a pixie cut? What do people fear about it? I often see women approach me with an almost remorseful look on their faces because “they could never be brave enough” or “their face shape just couldn’t pull it off”. And this makes me so sad. What are they afraid is going to happen to them? No one is ever called “brave” for growing their hair out.

I think many women fear that their hair is the only thing that keeps them feminine and desirable. I know plenty of people who just want long hair, and that’s not a problem, but there is nothing to fear from having short hair. I remember when I decided to cut my hair. I have a bit of dramatic streak, so I didn’t tell anyone what I was going to do and just went for it. But those same concerns ran through my head: What if I look like a guy? What if my face shape is too severe and manly? I think so many women are terrified of the rejection we might face from failing to conform to feminine beauty standards like wearing dresses or having long hair.

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“Why am I brave for my pixie cut and not my work with the UN?” photo credit: glamour.com

I’m sure I’m not the first person who has had an older relative ask if I was a lesbian because of my haircut and propensity to attend the pride parade (nothing wrong with being a lesbian of course, but stereotypes aren’t so nice). But what bothers me the most is how many women look at my haircut with such a longing. It is sad that such a little thing feels impossible for so many ladies because of the pressure to appear more feminine. And the ironic thing is that I’ve never felt more beautiful or feminine than I do with this haircut.

I used to use my hair as a shield, a cover. It hung over my hunched shoulders in high school and covered my forehead in college. It was always a bit limp and undone because I am pretty lazy about my hair. I didn’t want to curl it every day or use endless products. I just wanted to wake up and go. I always felt like my hair was signal that I was a pretty girl, a feminine girl. But as soon as I cut it off something funny happened: I felt freed. I had nowhere to hide my face anymore, and I started to like it better. Styling short hair was so much easier and I could create more striking looks. Wear your hair over your forehead with short bangs and you look like a 90’s Demi Moore. Style it up and high to feel like a sculpted queen. Finally I could see my eyelashes from the side profile and there were no distractions. Finally I could see myself as I always was.

This may seem a little dramatic, but cutting my hair meant a lot to me. I don’t think I felt more beautiful because I actually was. I have always looked this way. But I felt beautiful because I was free of my hiding place. My inherent aspect of “femininity.” This might be why women are so desperate to cut off their hair but so afraid. Hair is a kind of security for them. I see women in my salon panicking at the idea of cutting off even a few inches. But with a pixie cut a woman has nothing to lose. If romantic interests don’t like you because you have “dude hair”, then they weren’t so great anyway. And at least you tried something that is often so scary to so many people.

 

So ladies, I don’t want to hear anyone saying “pixie cuts are so brave” or “you have the perfect face shape for it but I don’t.” Cause guess what?? I don’t have the perfect face shape for a pixie. I just tried it and now I feel confident. You could cut your hair and it could look terrible. But what’s wrong with trying? Hair always grows back. Men are working man-buns and girls are killing that shaved-head look. So is a pixie really that scary? If you want mermaid hair, have mermaid hair. If you have a lob go for it. But don’t like society decide what you do with your body. It’s not a very fun way to live.

-Kate

The Look: Sailor Moon

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Hey everyone, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post (3 months to be exact), but I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block and some stuff going on in my personal life so it’s been tough. But I’m finally ready to get back to my blog! I’m also going to start adding in some more lengthy and wordy posts in the future because I miss just writing for the sake of writing. Hopefully you’ll like the new content! If you’re curious about where this blog is heading, check out my twitter, because I’m trying to create that authenticity on here as well. Continue reading

Tutorial: 1920’s Moviestar Glam

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Hey everyone! Today’s tutorial is pretty exciting for me because it’s definitely out of my comfort zone. I tend to focus on natural and basic looks most of the time, but sometimes it’s fun to get out of the box! I wore this eye makeup to work one day and my coworkers thought it looked a little bit like the makeup of 1920’s movie starlets. I took the idea and ran with it, creating this ultra-glam and shimmery look for a day at work and a night on the town. Read on for the tutorial! Continue reading

The Look: Wearing the Fullmetal Alchemist Pocket Watch

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As many of you know, I’m quite a lover of all things nerdy and consume tons of media in my free time. I’m a big anime fan (see my Sailor Jupiter look), and my favorite one of all time is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. My friends know of my total obsession with this show (what’s wrong with re-watching something every single year?) and I was recently given a great prop from the show! Thanks so much for the perfect gift from my bestie! I found that Edward Elric’s pocket watch is not only a fun thing to own, but makes a great accessory! So I am writing this post to share a few ways that I’ve worn it in the last week. Read on for my looks! Continue reading

Review: Empty Products Jan. 2017

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Hey everyone! I’m back again with some empty products that I used up between December and January. This time I have a few hair products to add into the mix now that I’ve been coloring mine fairly regularly. Read on for my reviews! Continue reading

Tutorial: Daytime Smoky Eye

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Winter is in full force here in Chicago, and I’m holding on to these last few days of beautiful makeup before it’s too cold to care. Once it gets below 20, I have to cover my whole face, so lipstick is basically worthless. However, the coldest days have just begun, and that gives me time to use my most beautiful deep lipsticks for glam looks! One of the most stunning way to enhance your eyes is to do a smoky eye. I’ve toned down the intensity of this look for a daytime eyeshadow that is perfect for any activity! Read on the tutorial. Continue reading

How to Have a Self-Care Day

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Hey guys! Today’s post is not about getting glam like usual. Instead I thought I would share the ways I like to relax and take care of myself on a day off. It’s important to slow down every once and a while and consider what you need for yourself, whether that is a break from social media or a pedicure. November was a bit of a rough month for me, and these techniques helped me feel so much better! Read on for my ideal self-care day! Continue reading