A version of this piece originally appeared on Daily Life, and I’m republishing here with some of the original parts. My editor wisely slimmed it down, because I am long-winded and the internet is a faced-paced place. But the awesome thing about a personal blog is that you can keep everything you like about your writing.
The New York Times had a little debate about makeup recently. Essentially, the question posed went like this: “Is makeup good or bad for women’s self-esteem? Because it seems like it’s probably really important that women wear it all the time.” It’s not the first time this question has been raised in the mainstream media. Attempting to argue that women shouldn’t feel pressure to wear makeup, Thomas Matlack made the case that his wife is stunning without it. Because she’s just stunning. Slate thought this was a counterproductive and slightly obnoxious point, and I agree. Emphasizing that some women look “naturally gorgeous” without makeup isn’t exactly reassuring. Actually, it just feels like more pressure.
The idea of pure, natural beauty has this whiff of cruel competitiveness about it. Some women have “it”, others need makeup. And then we have this dichotomy, where some women “need” the help that makeup gives their faces, and some women, blessed by a God who is on the Victoria’s Secret mailing list, don’t.
If there’s such a dichotomy, then I know which side I fall on. I mean, I get the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, too (because no matter where you hide, it will find you). I am not a “natural beauty.” By which I mean, I would never be asked to play the love interest in a music video about a girl who doesn’t need makeup because she’s so beautiful. I mean, when I wake up in the morning, my face is puffy and weird and my eyes look squinty and confused, and my skin is sometimes cleverly unpredictable, like we’re playing some ongoing game called “Guess where the giant mutant pimple will turn up next?”
(I don’t think they’d want to play…source)
But I don’t wear makeup.
Not because of some defiant decision I made about embracing my inner earth goddess or accepting the hard, bare truth or something. Not because I’m making a political statement about equality and oppressive beauty standards. I just never learned how to do it.