So, a couple of days ago I posted about No Makeup Week, and said I’d post more about the subject later. There’s more on makeup in the works at Interrobang HQ, though, so stay tuned.
I’m of two minds about makeup. I like it in that drawing on your face is fun, and I have the eyeliner and eyeshadow to back that up. I don’t like the assumption that as a woman, I should spend a considerable portion of my time painting my face into acceptability. It’s fine if I want to do it because green eyeliner is fun (and looks awesome on me, but it’s another thing entirely when I’m not supposed to leave the house without it. I have breakfasts to eat and buses to catch, and if that means that I don’t have five minutes to spare to futz with creams and powders and stuff, then out the door I go without it. I should note that I’m lucky to have pretty clear, rosy skin, with enough flush to it that I don’t have people asking me if I’m tired or ill if I don’t wear blush. I don’t even own blush (gasp!). Also, those people are nosybeaks.
So my relationship with makeup is pretty simple, actually. I wear it when I feel like it, and don’t feel compelled to wear it. I’ve been surrounded by people who’re tepid at best about makeup, though. My Mom rarely wore any (and only foundation at that), my Grandma would wear some lipstick for fancy occasions (but again, little else), my Dad never said anything about it one way or the other that I can remember, and I remember my Grandpa saying something about “gilded lilies.” My Aunt was the exception, with a makeup drawer bristling with lipstick and bright red nail polish, but I never got the sense that she thought it was compulsory either — I always thought that she just liked it, so wore it when she felt like it. (I was totally fascinated with her red toenails as a little girl.) A.’s not really keen on makeup, but as with so many other things, realizes that it’s really none of his business one way or another, and has never said boo about it.
In some small ways, wearing makeup is a defiance of all the “ehn”-ness that I’ve been surrounded with. It’s a quiet assertion that I decide how to present myself to the world, that I decide what’s right for me, and that I make my own decisions. I’m sure that doesn’t come across, though, in a society that pushes women to wear makeup not as an assertion of independence, but as evidence of enforced insecurity and femininity, and that bothers me. There’s no way I can communicate my context, and I worry that I’m inadvertently feeding into the dominant narrative of compulsory warpaint which is so harmful to so many women. I don’t want to do that at all — I’d like to undo it! — but makeup is a touchstone of independence, and that’s important to me, even if breakfast and sleep always take precedence. Giving up a touchstone of independence do avoid feeding into an image of femininity seems entirely counter productive, even if I suspect I’ll always have mixed feelings about wearing makeup.
Like I said, there’s more in the works, but in the mean time, what do you think? What’s your relationship with makeup like? Did you (or are you going to) participate in No Make