The Great Makeup Debate

When I was fourteen years old I discovered eyeliner. It was a wonderful year. I was an awkward, pimply, gangly young teenager and when I began experimenting with makeup, just simple eyeliner and coverup, I felt like I could look pretty for the first time. I gained confidence in my appearance and knew that I presented myself well to others. Looking good made me feel good.

At 22, I still struggle with acne and uneven skin tone, and I have become irrevocably addicted to winged eyeliner. I love watching makeup tutorials and trying out new products. Eyeshadows and liners are my favorites; with a few simple tricks you can transform your entire look. I wear makeup on a daily basis and even if I sometimes forego my standard BB Cream and blush combo, I almost never leave the house without eyeliner.

Because of my devotion to makeup, I’ve cultivated a certain image and persona. When I am wearing makeup I feel like I’m more myself. I like to look a certain way. My own family says that I look so young when I’m makeup-free and scrubbed at night (and when I look like a rabid cat in the morning). So this leads me to the point of this post: is wearing makeup a form of deception?

I know that for most women, having others “see them without their makeup on” is kind of a big deal. It’s like a deep level of intimacy. Makeup becomes a mask that others can’t see past. For other women, makeup is the enemy. They pride themselves on eschewing the entire practice of wearing makeup, dismissing it as shallow and superficial. Some men have preferences about the level of makeup that they will tolerate their girlfriends wearing, and many men judge women they meet based on how much makeup they wear.

Photo Jun 11, 9 27 38 PM (1)

Like it or not, appearances matter. The way you dress and look certainly change the way others see you. How you choose to present yourself to the world is a choice, and it’s a choice that influences others’ opinions. Personally, I wear makeup because I feel more polished and put-together, more like myself, and more important, more like I want others to see me. I’ve never hidden my love for makeup, nor have I ever pretended that I have perfect skin. I take advantage of the freedom of makeup to boost my confidence and allow me to look on the outside the way I feel on the inside.

I think there’s a definite stigma about “wearing too much makeup,” as if a woman is duping the world about her appearance. While I agree that makeup is best used to enhance your natural appearance, I think there’s something fun and creative about transforming your look with makeup. Experimenting with an image helps people find their comfort zone, how they want to express themselves, how they want others to perceive them. I don’t think it’s duplicity; I think it’s akin to wardrobe or hairstyle, ultimately a creative choice and an expression of who you are.

I think the stigma against makeup stems from women feeling like they aren’t pretty without wearing it, which is an attitude that can shatter self-esteem and cause the opposite effect that makeup is supposed to have. Each woman has a natural beauty that exists separate from the enhancement of makeup, and that’s something more women should embrace, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with wearing makeup. The problem arises when makeup becomes a mask.

I also find issue with others, be it men or the general influence of society, telling women how much makeup is “acceptable” to wear, whether it be in a work atmosphere or daily life. If wearing makeup helps a woman feel more secure, then so be it. If wearing no makeup is an expression of a woman’s identity, then she should not be criticized for it. It seems like everyone has an opinion on how a woman should or shouldn’t live her life.

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  • Totally agree! Love this post!


    La Joie de Vivre by Alecia Mariana

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  • Great post, Lisa. I definitely feel that makeup can let women express themselves, be comfortable, and be creative. Changing up your makeup look, just like changing outfits, is fun!

    • I completely agree! Thanks for your feedback!

  • I’m right there with you, lady. Discovering makeup (and a defuser) basically changed the way I felt about myself and much like you, I went from being awkward and self-conscious to actually being confident (perhaps too much so for a while) and then eventually settled into feeling like my true self. I wear makeup everyday. To some, it’s a lot, to others, it’s nothing. But for me, I feel ten times better and more myself when I’ve added a touch of blush, and the winged eyeliner. I’m critical of myself in just the same way that people may be critical of me, but in the end, it’s all about how it makes you feel, just like you said, and I completely agree that women should feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin, but if a little colour makes you feel better, by all means! Thoughtful post :).

  • I think you summarized the Great Debate rather well! It drives me crazy when men think they have the right to say what amount of makeup is “appropriate” for women to wear. Different levels of makeup look WILDLY different on different people! And people should just wear whatever they want! As for me, I almost never wear lipstick, because I’m pale and I feel like it looks very obvious, but I will NEVER leave my apartment without concealer, eyeliner, and mascara! Most people have never seen me without mascara. I like to think that that’s just what I look like, on a day-to-day basis. 🙂