Question: Make-up and Feminism

I enjoy my make-up from time to time, but it is one of those things that can get a bad wrap in feminism.  I mean, it is one of the many things that women “have to” do, but men don’t.  Women have to put these silly colors on our faces or we are not “put together” or sometimes even taken seriously.  Ladies, would you feel comfortable going to an interview without make-up on?  How about a first date?

I totally understand that half of the aversion  The necessity is complete b.s.  That fact that we* feel as if we will be judged for the lack is totally unfair.  The worst part for me is when I see friends spend upwards of a hundred dollars and a half-an-hour putting on make-up in order to look the same!

On the up side, make-up can be one of those things you flip.  Make it something for yourself and not others.  If you hate putting on make-up, try not doing it.  Go to work without it and see if something changes.  This will most likely do one of two things.  1) You will learn it doesn’t change a damn thing.  Other than your own attitude, of course.  2) It does change something (such as you get more tips or treated better by certain people) and you learn something more about your work environment.

What do you, both my male and female readers, think of make-up?  Is it pushing back the feminist movement or is it another thing we should claim for ourselves?  If any of you know anything about the history of make-up, please let me know.

*I mean the average woman. If you are an exception, awesome.


About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
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5 Responses to Question: Make-up and Feminism

  1. Sita says:

    I can’t really speak for anyone else, but I kinda like make-up. But only sometimes. It’s a pain to put on and a pain to take off. If I can go without it, I will–and more often than not, I do. A little lipstick or lip gloss is often all I feel that I need, and sometimes it’s just plain old chapstick. I don’t wear make-up to work, and I work in a professional office, but then, very few of the women at work bother to wear cosmetics. I used to view make-up as a mask, as something that other people needed to see but never saw past. Now I see it as something that I can use to enhance my confidence when I need an extra boost. Just knowing that I look damn good gives a great ego boost! Especially in that job interview, or that first date…

    I’m not a hard-core feminist, but I can see the feminist argument in this. There is something of a double-standard with make-up. Waitresses have proven over and over that they get better tips on days they wear make-up, and I know from experience that days when I was serving customers while wearing (good) make-up I tended to get second-glances or smiles and better treatment from both female and male customers. I think there is that sense of being “put together” when you have make-up on, but of being sloppy when you don’t. That being said, no way am I going to spend more than 30 minutes on my looks, and that only when I have something important happening like a date or an interview and want to make sure I look my best.

  2. yb says:

    Sometimes I like it. Mostly I’m indifferent to it, or I like people not having it. I like people to look like who they are.

    Unrelated: You might like this:

  3. steve says:

    Try googling some pics of Brit and French courtiers and gentry of a few hundred years ago and you’ll see why I, for one, am relieved that men are no longer expected to wear cosmetics, towering wigs and high heels – you’re very welcome to it all:)

    Is it idle to speculate that cosmetics may have descended from ritual body and face-painting, gradually becoming refined to express special individual qualities rather than the hunter’s prowess or some fertility ritual? Just a thought…

    As for year 2011, I quite like painted ladies – when it’s done well. Good colour can only enhance but bad colour can quickly become grotesque. As for cosmetics and feminism it seems to me that make-up can be expressive and liberating or it can be a badge of oppressive conformity. Perhaps it’s down to the spirit of the person who chooses to wear cosmetics – or not as the case may be?

  4. Jack says:

    Im sick enough to fuck a man in his face, but I WONT because youll probably want to stay in his place.

  5. When Timing Might Affect Your Baby’s Gender: Sometimes when I explain this to people, they respond with something like “so are you saying that the timing of my conception has nothing to do with my baby’s gender?” Actually, timing is important. But, it’s not the timing of when you were last pregnant. It has more to do with the timing of where you are in your fertility cycle this time around.

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