Concealing one’s flaws is a timeless idea.
Romans used urine as mouthwash to make their teeth whiter. Queen Elizabeth I applied a “mask of youth” to her face, formed by a cocktail of white lead and vinegar. In the 1930s, many popular beauty products included a radioactive ingredient, radium, which was believed to revitalize your skin.
Although these practices sound crazy to us now, in reality, nothing has changed. According to The Economist, the beauty industry is worth $160 billion per year, capitalizing on any and all obsessive fads that involve primping, priming and preening.
For many women like myself, standing in front of the mirror to do your makeup in the morning is a daily ritual.
Sometimes, it’s simply a few dabs of moisturizer and a swipe of mascara. Other days, it’s a little more involved — contouring my face with bronzers and blushes, highlighting my cheekbones and using a few types of shadows to frame my big, hazel eyes.
I believe it makes me look polished. It’s not that I feel naked or insecure without it. I’d be perfectly happy going to class sans cosmetics.
But that’s me. I have friends who have never worn a drop of makeup their whole life, and they’ve been slaying the game since birth. I also know plenty of women who always wear makeup, even when they’re doing things like working out.
All of these individuals are strong, powerful and independent. They wear makeup for themselves. This is the way it should be.
For celebrities, I fear, that makeup is a far bigger deal than it ought to be.
For Kylie Jenner, piling on lip liners and powders is a form of self-expression. Good for her. For Alicia Keys, who has pioneered the #nomakeup movement for quite some time now, wearing makeup is synonymous to communicating with the devil.
In a Lenny Letter penned by Keys back in May, she explained how makeup made her feel like a chameleon.
“I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing,” Keys wrote.
Since when did makeup become some overarching metaphor for your thoughts, dreams and struggles? You can’t see any of those things when staring at an individual’s face, regardless of makeup.
I’m all for embracing natural beauty and individuality, but I stop when vanity is made out to be a villain.
Pressing your personal ideology onto others isn’t right. Keys chooses not to wear makeup. Most celebrities choose to wear it. It’s simple, unadulterated free will. There shouldn’t be an argument here.
Yet there are Twitter wars and Facebook memes, YouTube manifestoes and endless amounts of pro- and anti-makeup blog literature.
Founding editor of Allure Magazine Linda Wells said in an interview with The New York Times, “Why is it that fashion is considered self-expression and makeup is self-absorption?”
Clearly, a double standard has been created in two industries that similarly pride themselves on artistic expression and eccentricity.
The use or non-use of makeup should be up to the user, not the audience.
Although skin is in, the universe of internet trolls shouldn’t target those who’d like to use a bit of concealer every now and then to cover up their blemishes.