The reason this question popped into my head recently, is because I was listening to a talk show on the radio, where a question was thrown out about women who wear makeup. It surprised me that the responses were mostly negative, from both men and women!!
Wait a minute, I thought, it’s 2016 not 1916 – why were people coming on air to say that wearing makeup is fake or superficial or just vain? The most common comment was that it was deceptive, because the woman was hiding something behind a mask of cosmetics, and an empowered woman shouldn’t be. Gosh, that threw me for a loop! What say you?
I think a lot of public perception of women and makeup has been influenced by the thick masks that we often see being put up as an example of what makeup looks like or should look like. People tend to forget that makeup for cameras and TV is quite different from makeup for the everyday woman.
The every day woman has no time nor real inclination to spend an hour painting her face, covering blemishes, contouring, blending eyeshadow and powder etc. She has 15 minutes to get ready in the mornings (if that). Sure, she could go out bare-faced, and many do.
But is it vain or superficial to want to enhance a certain feature, or to just make herself look a little better? Is it vain or superficial to not want to look like she only had 4 hours of sleep? Is it vain or superficial to just want to look presentable and alert?
If that defines wearing makeup, then I’m afraid you’d have to stick the “Vain and Superficial” label on my forehead, because those are the reasons that I wear makeup.
- I don’t want to look tired when I face the world, so I put on a little concealer and base makeup.
- I want to look confident even if I may not feel that way, so I do my brows and wear a bold coloured lipstick and a little colour on my cheeks.
- I don’t want to look oily, blotchy and unkempt in the day, so a little base makeup balances out the skin tone
- I don’t want to look pale and sickly so I wear a rosy lipstick
And this is what happens when I do wear makeup. Yes, I’m wearing makeup in the picture on the right, though I could have fooled anyone into thinking I didn’t, if I didn’t say anything, right?
I’m wearing a light BB Cream, some concealer, a little light pink blush, brow pencil and a rosy lipstick, and I think it makes me look just that bit better.
I don’t do fancy makeup or pile on an inch thick of paste on my skin. I don’t look markedly different with makeup as I do without, and I honestly doubt that anyone would say that I look different with makeup as opposed to going without. I look the same, just fresher. And in my experience, this is how 90% of the population looks with and without makeup.
Sure, there will be those who say that with good skin, you get away without having to wear makeup. For those who do, please keep doing what you do. But the truth is that very few people have beautiful skin. There are those too who say it’s perfectly fine to look as you do, without any cosmetics. To them, I say do what makes you happy.
Wearing makeup isn’t a bad thing – although I realise I’m preaching to the choir here – and it isn’t vain nor superficial to want to enhance your looks a little. No one’s saying you have to change how you look – but most of us could do with a little help, to give us that that extra little edge.
I’m not saying that I’m feeling insulted, I just felt weird that a national radio show would elicit this sort of response from what I thought was a public that was by now used to women wearing makeup. Why else would Sephora be doing so well, and makeup collections be flying off the shelves? Are women buying them just to keep in a dark cupboard to pet … “My preciousssss….” Yet, people seem to think makeup is still a bad thing to enjoy. Funny eh?
What do you think? Is is vain or superficial to enjoy wearing makeup? Does it matter?
I’d like to think I’m a pretty empowered woman in my own right, and I’m as comfortable going out bare-faced as the next woman. But I feel that I look a lot more presentable and alert with just a little bit of cosmetics help. If that makes me vain and superficial, well, I’m guilty then. Lock me up and throw away the key! LOL! 😀 Let me know what you think.
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Fact: The work force is ageist
Fact: The world is sexist
Not to sound defeatist, women are almost always at the losing end.
I see as wearing makeup to level the playing field a little. If men can have their business meetings over at strip clubs and golf courses, what is a slick of makeup?
Why judge makeup wearers? No one’s putting a gun to anyone’s head to use makeup.
Paris B says
I absolutely agree with you on the position of women. We always have to prove ourselves more simply because we start with a handicap. Applicable to all aspects of life, not just work. I like being in a room full of chauvinistic men, and be the one with war paint on the face. The native americans did it, why can’t we? LOL! 😉
Beauty Bee says
Oh I love that analogy Paris! 😀 I’m going to a work conference at the end of the month – on my own – and I’m a little (or MAJORLY) anxious about it because I am not very good at ‘networking’ (that word makes me shudder….). So what am I going to do? Wear a brighter lip than I usually would to work 😀 Just because I can!
Paris B says
Rock that bright lip, Sylvia! Being among strangers, that’s the best time to! 😀
If I think makeup is vain and superficial, I don’t think I will be a fan of wearing any even just tinted lipbalm lol
I think people who does think that have misconception. Yes, there are those who wear tons and one foot layers of makeup even if just going out casually not on tv or those who wear makeup to change their natural bone structure *cough countouring *cough. Hence people think makeup is “vain and superficial.” But more practical, more common for daily, people nowadays have limited time and skills so they mostly use something less and simple to do: to cover up/even up skin (tinted or foundation); blush to have glow (healthy or youthful glow); lipstick to help with dried/cracked/pale lips and eyeliner/mascara to open up/wake up eyes. For brows, personally I think mine are pretty enough without having getting plucked, shave, thread or any hair removal technique and I welcome eyebrow products if for very special occasion i.e. my own wedding which I still don’t have opportunity to attend yet 😛
In my opinion, makeup is something to help you look presentable on different events, to enhance what you naturally have, to bring out your identity via colours of your choosing. Even if you just wear tinted moisturizer and lipstick, that still help you to be ready to fight the world with confidence or to feel powerful 😀
Paris B says
I absolutely agree with you about makeup helping make us look presentable. Too many people are indoctrinated into thinking that makeup = that thick greasepaint slathered on for wedding photos or by celebrities and yes, contouring. To be honest, despite all the people I see online contouring, I hardly see anyone in real life with contour or or strobing LOL! Maybe some celebrities during events, but not even other bloggers, who do tutorials come contoured to an inch of their life. Some of them come with heavy makeup, but that’s mostly it. So I wonder where all those people who contour go to LOL! 😀
it’s just like how businessmen can wear the same suit over and over again and no one notices and women just have to wear the same shoes/bag/necklace and it gets commented on. discussions pertaining to women always tend to be fiercer and more polarising.
but i do wonder, considering that majority of your countrymen’s faith encourages modesty, could that be why that radio discussion skewed more negatively on makeup? it could be different in other neighbouring countries.
Paris B says
LOL Good point on the businessmen, and men in general. They have it so easy (and comfortable!) Let’s see them stand around for hours in heels and a tight dress vs their baggy suits and flat shoes LOL! 😀 I did think it might be to do with our cultural make up, except that I don’t think it’s the case, as the biggest consumers of makeup (I’ve been told) are from the the majority. The comments on the radio did seem to come from a good cross-section of the public as well, which was what surprised me. If it had been skewed either way, I might have thought religion had a basis for it, but apparently not! LOL! I think we’re just confused 😛
I have to say, most men might not know you’re actually wearing makeup in the photo above. My gut feeling tells me that majority of them don’t really pay attention. Then one day, when you show up without anything on your face, they’re probably the ones who ask you if you’re sick or if you’re very tired. Hahaha! It happened to me many times and when I said I put on makeup on the other days, they looked surprise.
You know those videos that share the “power of makeup” where very average looking women are transformed into looking like someone else entirely? I see a lot of these on Facebook, and the CLUELESS think that’s what makeup does. That once you take off that makeup, you’re gonna look entirely like a different person. (for the record, I’m all for using makeup to enhance our natural features, not CHANGING anything, so these videos make me go 0_o)
However, if using makeup to make myself look a little more presentable is superficial and vain, then I am guilty too. That’s why I use skincare to take care of my skin. That’s why I wear clean neat clothes. That’s why I take care of what I eat. That’s why I exercise. Other than wanting to be healthier, I am also vain to hope that I will look better. So, for these people who judge others, and if they’re not hypocrites, then they must not look after themselves at all. I mean, if we’re stereotyping, that’s what I’ll think.
Personally, I think it’s quite ridiculous. Many workplaces now make it compulsory for female front liners to put on makeup, for men to groom their hair so I’m surprised that something so common as this is an issue. Putting on makeup is part of grooming, and has been for us women for centuries. I don’t see any difference, compared to men cutting their hair or shaving their beard.
Paris B says
I’d tend to agree with your observation. Men are clueless LOL! But the weird thing is the women who were calling in to say that women shouldn’t be wearing makeup! Must explain why our local population goes makeup-free. Everyone judges LOL! But yeah, those face changing videos are what I think people think makeup does. I can’t even do half of what these Youtube people do 😛
There are many reasons for wearing makeup. As a career woman, I defy anyone to say they do not prefer someone who wears makeup to look polished as opposed to one looking drained and tired. Makeup can brighten up the face, lift the spirits of the wearer and indeed, even lift the spirits of others. When you see someone looking pale , drained and half-dead, I think that affects you too. If that makes a person “vain”, then yes, I’m vain and I’ll be as vain as I please. So there!
However, there is a valid point in that wearing makeup can also reflect vanity (in a negative sense which I’m guessing is what came through on the talk show) in a person. I recently had to unfollow a well known make up brand on twitter because they thought it was a great advertising tactic to retweet followers who put up photos of themselves completely overdoing the makeup (contouring, highlighting and all that crap), overusing of filters as well as making duckfaces. I’ve read instances of people who spend hours just putting on their warpaint in the morning and it cannot be argued that that doesn’t involve vanity. I’m guessing all the selfies which then ensue are to make it worth their while spending all that time putting on makeup!
I guess what I’m saying is that the answer depends ultimately on the individual and their mindset.
By the way, you’ll notice that I referred to “people” instead of “women” in my comment and this is because more and more men are using makeup too these days!
Paris B says
I have noticed more men using makeup, but primarily online. I don’t necessarily see them in Sephora, shopping the foundations, nor have I seen any man in makeup in person (stage performers not included). I think people would probably judge them if they did! While I’d tend to agree as well that wearing makeup makes you vain, I think it’s also a way for you to see your plus side as well as your minus side. Besides, if we really don’t like having that red angry spot on our face right there, thank goodness we have concealer so we don’t have it staring back at us from the mirror! haha
That reminds me of something a male friend was overheard saying. Referring to a lady with a prominent spot on her face, he mumbled (more to himself than to anyone in particular) “Never heard of foundation is it???”
Clearly, he meant “concealer” but it was interesting that he 1. knew there was something made for concealing spots and 2. he thinks that spots should be banished from sight.
I was torn between laughing and and boxing him on the ears!
Paris B says
LOL!! I think a lot of men now know there’s something out there that can help with problematic skin, but you’re right – I wouldn’t whether to praise him or shoot him down for judging! LOL!
Hanny Daforcena says
Well, I came across an even more embittered argument against makeup.
One of my friends is a self-professed “radical feminist” and she was going on and on about how women are being forced into buying clothes, personal care products and of course, cosmetics by the patriarchy. In her view, the notion that women being empowered and dressing up to look polished and professional was also being set up by males in the workforce, thus taking away any agency from females. Thus, wearing makeup is not only vanity, but also buying into discriminative patriarchal practices, which is seen as being weak and conformating and thus being the opposite of empowered.
I do not agree to this view, but it is an interesting one, won’t you say?
Paris B says
I’d agree if women wearing makeup did not stretch back to the ancient days of yore, when even MEN wore makeup. Back in the day, in Europe, in particular, based on what I’ve read, it was the men who were dressed up, powdered and painted as they went out and about their daily business, especially in the upper echelons of society. Women were kept at home, plain and out of sight. Now the tables are turned, and perhaps, that makes us more empowered now than we ever were before? 🙂 A patriarchical society would dictate, I think, that women not show their faces at all, much less paint them, and if we give it, well that gives them what they want – the power to dictate how we look or can look.
Half the time people don’t even know I’m wearing makeup and when I tell them I am they seem surprised. That’s because I don’t wear a ton of makeup and I still look the same without it. But I think that’s become the norm. People wearing makeup to change their entire appearance. I don’t believe in doing that but to each their own. Am I vain for putting a little concealer on to even out my skin. Maybe. But I’m just as comfortable walking out the door barefaced.
Paris B says
Yep, I’d tend to agree about how people are putting on makeup not to enhance what they have, but to change how they look. While it can be empowering for that woman, it affects how society views something as innocuous as wearing makeup, because we all get tarred with the same brush! That said, I think we shouldn’t give in to the nay-sayers. After all, concealer is my best friend LOL!
Mieza Everdeen says
“You look so pale, are you sick?”
“Put on some makeup, there’s a presentation after lunch”
“You must look fresh and presentable when meeting clients. Wear makeup”
The list can go on and now they’re saying that wearing makeup is fake, superficial and excessive? Poor souls. They must’ve been seeing runway models sporting cray cray makeup only in their entire life hence the negative reactions. Let them be, as you said, it is 2016 not 1916.
Paris B says
I know right?! Sometimes, if I’ve had a poor night’s sleep, I look like death. But the world doesn’t need to see me looking like death – I can look presentable, not oily or pale. I think people hear “makeup” and think of drag queens.
This might be my longest comment ever since I have so many cents about it LOL.
I love makeup.I suck at eye-makeup but otherwise I can say that I am actually pretty good at it. I used to go bare faced during my early university days but started to apply makeup religiously for the past 2 years every morning, even if it means getting up an hour earlier than my peers. I usually go for the base(acne scars!),eyebrows and a hint of tinted lip balm which makes me look awake AF and I loved my look :P.
But I am irritated at the way people reacted to it. I am actually grateful if someone pointed it out that my eyebrows are uneven or my foundation is not blended since it reminds me to fix it to stop looking like a fool for the rest of the day. But why, why why why people like to comment:” eh, you wear makeup ah?”
That is one question that I would really like to snort back:” eh, you are wearing clothes today ah?” Not only they question the makeup existence on your face, my friends (girls!) actually cupped my face and scrutinize what kind of makeup that I have before going:” why do you want to put makeup wor?”
Very few people wear makeup here, and the ones that do usually gets a lot of STARES. When I went overseas, I found that makeup is a norm and people are more accepting about makeup. Oh, what fun I had experimenting with a lot of bright colours. But here I succumb to peer pressure and only dared to go for the ‘natural’ look. Any hint of colour on your face people will go:” why your makeup so thick wan?” And I wonder if they really know what thick makeup means.
I don’t get why people tend to use that tone that suggestively says that a girl who wears makeup is vain and cares more about how she looks rather than important things, in short, they categorize you as a bimbo if you put makeup(at least the people that I have met) but please, makeup to me is an expression of freedom people have the right to use whatever they want on their own face.
Paris B says
Haha thanks for sharing your thoughts Angie! I do agree with you about how the general public here tends to not wear makeup. Even in offices or formal settings, women walk around without a lick of powder or lipstick. More power to them, I suppose. But it makes it harder for the rest of us who feel like we want to make the extra effort. I used to work in an office where no one wore makeup, except me. I wore the craziest colours too (despite not being very good at it! LOL ) but slowly, I noticed the appearance of a lipstick here and some powder there, and I think it’s a domino effect. Maybe it’s because of the perception of wearing makeup that women here don’t make the extra effort, but they may secretly want to! 😉 Oh and yes, if you wear makeup or like me, write a beauty blog, gosh I must be an airhead with nothing between my ears but rainbows and unicorns! haha!
Haha rainbows and unicorns! I do agree with the domino effect though, in fact my closer friends started wearing sheer lipstain, but it’s annoying when they actually shy away from those stronger colours themselves and actually condemn those who dare to wear it (me!). Isn’t it nice if everyone has the drive to put on makeup and make the world a more colourful one?
Paris B says
Aww they shouldn’t condemn you, that’s not nice! They’re probably afraid – what I’ve realised that people actually love seeing themselves with some makeup or a bright lipstick on, but they dare not wear it, because they think people will stare at them. I always say “Hello, you think you’re Angelina Jolie? No one will notice!” LOL!
Hmmm… Make up is my hobby. Just like people who finds peace in coloring, I do too… I enjoy coloring (my face). So?
Paris B says
Well said! Although colouring is very stressful you know, for me LOL! 😀
i also have many cents on this. I see nothing wrong in women who wear tons of makeup or very little makeup or in between. in essence, i support a women’s choice whether she wants to wear make up or not and im sure most everyone here would agree with me on this.
so when people say that make up is vain or superficial – it pisses me off. from a young age, little girls are being praised for being pretty, looking cute etc, usually about outward appearances. when we grow older, we also praise other people and are praised by other people for being beautiful, glowing, radiant, gorgeous, amazing body etc, again outward appearances. so naturally, when the society values you for our outward appearances and looks and facial features, you will tend to put more emphasis on your appearances, either through makeup, clothes, surgery wtv. and then people turn around and say it’s superficial, vain, when hello??!! the society kinda conditions you for it.
secondly, even though i feel society conditions people to appreciate a woman more for her beauty than anything else, it doesn’t mean that wanting to be beautiful is anything wrong. a woman should be able to express herself in any manner of ways, through makeup, clothes, writing, performing etc and she shouldn’t be restricted from these forms of self-expression. all of them are equally valid and valuable forms of self-expression.
thirdly, about how wearing makeup is being deceptive – women are subject to such high standards of beauty that when a women tries to attains that standard through makeup, she is then accused of being deceitful. either way women lose.
so again, i support every woman’s choice to wear make-up or not and it really pisses me off when people try to control the choices a woman can make.
Paris B says
Thanks for sharing Nurul! 🙂 I do agree that we should all do and wear what we want, without being or having to be judged by societal norms. After all, society evolves, and maybe one day they’ll come around haha! But yes, you are right about how appearances matter. It’s a fact, and an evolutionary fact as well. People are more attracted to an attractive face, and hey, if cosmetics can help us with that, why not eh?
Tine @ Beautyholics Anonymous says
I think it’s highly hypocritical for them to have a negative reaction towards women wearing makeup, from both men and women. Do men not comb their hair before leaving the house? Do women not at least groom themselves to look presentable before stepping out of the door? If they do, do we then call them vain?
It’s called having pride in ourselves in wanting to look better, to feel better for ourselves. If makeup is something we enjoy using and it’s something that does help us look better, who are they to judge? Tell that to the men who judge us for wearing makeup yet having that godawful orange comb sticking out of their back pocket.
*step off soapbox*
Paris B says
ROFLOL at the orange comb 😀 But I agree with you 100% that it’s an extension of the grooming process. If someone doesn’t want to paint their faces, so be it. But you can’t deny that there’ll be ever so slight envious side-eye when a well-groomed and made up woman walks by. It’s only natural!
I’m really done with explaining why wearing makeup doesn’t make you a fake person or vain. It’s a battle you can’t win. People will always criticize you and yet be awe by the “natural beauty” of actresses on tv.
Paris B says
Nail on head, Nabihah! I don’t get these people (men usually) who will go “See, she doesn’t wear makeup and she’s naturally beautiful!” and we see someone who has on brow pencil, tinted lipbalm, some blush and foundation, or even “natural” eyeshadow and liner. Mmm… sure…. natural LOL!
I envy those who can do good makeup to make themselves look presentable. Who doesn’t want to look good ? Those who say so is either don’t understand the “level” of makeup used on stage vs general ppl or they are just plain jealous!
Paris B says
Eh, I’m sure you look presentable too! 😀 But I think it’s mostly ignorance on the part of the public, not realising that a bit of foundation/BB cream, some blush and a bit of lipstick is also makeup, not the drag queen look that’s so popular on Instagram and on stage LOL!
I don’t think wearing makeup is vain or superficial, & I don’t think it requires any explanation to wear makeup! Sure I might feel like covering spots or dark circles when I wear makeup, but at some days I just feel like wearing makeup because I love it. There’s nothing wrong with liking the way the red lipstick looks on my lips, or liking the way the eyeshadow shimmers on my eyelids. It’s just makeup, I can wear it without any deep reasoning behind the motive really.
Paris B says
Nail on head, Florence! 🙂 Nothing right nor wrong about makeup – I don’t know why people felt so strongly against it! As I was telling another reader in a previous comment, it was the MEN who used to doll themselves up back in the day. Now, the tables are turned and maybe there’s that latent gene in their psyche that can’t handle it LOL!
Don’t most people who appear on TV WEAR MAKEUP anyway? Like what? Were the women making the comments wearing makeup?
I personally consider makeup a creative outlet, and it does make me feel more confident (depending on the setting). I don’t judge people who use makeup for covering up acne and such, though that’s not the reason I wear it. It’s fun and a way of expression.
Paris B says
LOL that’s a good question. I think some people actually think people on TV naturally look beautiful 😛
As you said, we are preaching to the choir here.
Question that begs to be asked is what is wrong with being vain and superficial? Isn’t everyone in some way shape or form vain and superficial?
These are human qualities and I am human. You can’t say that a machine or a stone is vain or superficial. So what if I chose to be vain over being selfish? Plenty of selfish ones around here these days. Then again, there is really nothing wrong with being selfish either as long as it does not adversely affect others, I say.
So what if I am superficial, isn’t everyone? People should look at themselves in the mirror. I bet that there would be at least one thing that is an ode to the god of materialism on their person. Superficial? hell yeah!
As for make up, I love them. Red lipstick to work everyday or strong berry is the norm. Nudes do not compliment my overall looks. Looking presentable is my way of saying to the people i meet, you re important enough to me for me to be presentable.
I have not really paid any attention to mainstream media because of the propaganda or the social network because of the verbal diarrhoea . Too many people talking without thinking in both. Time is precious and is best spent attending to what enriches and make me a better human being.
Paris B says
Haha I like your philosophy Ishi – what is wrong with being vain and superficial indeed! So long as we don’t hurt anyone by it and don’t do anything stupid in the process, there’s nothing wrong with some vanity. We are inherently vain anyway, some of us choose to supress it 😀 Oh mainstream media – you mean the “sanctioned” press? too much drivel there! Haha! Do what makes us happy. Life is short
Noooo… it’s sad that people should think that way… If we, women, spend so much time out there facing the world and making a difference, we may as well do it with a good face.
Nothing wrong with a little colour here and there to up our confidence. I think it’s good manners too to look groomed. 🙂
Paris B says
I agree you with about it being good manners to be groomed. After all, we don’t walk around with our hair sticking up on end – well, unless we intend for it to! LOL – so you’re right. There’s nothing wrong with a little colour. I honestly don’t know why people feel so anti-makeup, when it’s just colour! LOL
Its nothing wrong to want to look better with some makeup. Same way we wear officewear to office and not wear jeans. Appearance matter.
Paris B says
Absolutely. As much as everyone hates to admit it, appearances DO matter so, there’s nothing wrong with us wanting to look better right? I don’t get where all the makeup-hate is coming from to be honest. The only thing I could think of is that it’s associated with all the inch thick makeup looks that are touted as “the norm” that skews people’s perception of what makeup really is about!
I’ve found that women are judged in the workplace for wearing makeup and then are criticised for not wearing it because it’s unprofessional to not look put together. We can’t win either way.
I have sensitive skin so I generally stay away from makeup. I put SPF on in the morning and then an oil control moisturiser on my Tzone and that’s it. I never have time for anything else. I used to put foundation, concealer and some mascara on in school if I had time but these days, I barely have time in the mornings for breakfast.
And although I don’t wear makeup, I think it’s ridiculous that people think it’s vain and superficial. I’ve started going to the gym for purely vain and superficial reasons and instead of being criticised for it, I’ve been praised for it so I wonder whether makeup is criticised because it’s purely a woman’s thing. If men wore makeup, I can’t imagine there’d be much negativity around it.
Paris B says
Nope, it’s hard being a woman, so I say we just tell all the critics to sod off and let us do our thing how we want to do it, whichever way makes us happy! LOL! As I was telling another reader, back in the day, it was the men who dolled themselves up, and the women kept themselves plain. Now, it’s the other way around. Who knows, maybe there’s a latent gene that’s feeling jealous that women now are getting a lot more attention because they are vain! 😀