Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wearing makeup in a patriarchal society

In running FacebookSexism, this is a popular sentiment shared by misogynists:

[Image text, a comment from "BIG SARGE" which reads, "Chick looks beat up without makeup. Should be illegal to use it as a disguise, you don't look like that."]
That's right...wearing makeup is now a "disguise" that should be illegal. "BIG SARGE" is not alone in this opinion. There are tons of iterations of this idea out there. It's trickery. It's deceitful, etc. etc. In fact, in Googling to read more on this topic, here's what I immediately saw:

[Image text: Top Google search for "wearing makeup is" is "wearing makeup is lying."]
That's right. We're calling wearing makeup lying now.

So is shapewear lying too? Is getting a haircut or color lying? Is shaping a beard lying? What the hell is this nonsense?

What it is, pure and simple, is misogyny and patriarchy in action. You see, we've stumbled into one of the many damned if you do/damned if you don't pitfalls of trying to exist as a woman in our society. On one hand we are inundated with endless messages that our appearance is what matters most and that we must look a certain way and that products (like makeup) are what will get us closer to that (actually unattainable) ideal.

On the other hand, we're also supposed to never, ever try too hard (or at least not let on that we're spending lots of time on our looks.) We're supposed to be somehow effortlessly beautiful and still look like we came off the page of a magazine at the same time. So we have the parade of dudes saying stuff like the comment above, but also the less-obviously-misogynistic "I don't like it when girls wear a ton of makeup. I like you just as you are!"

And heaven forbid a woman use makeup as an art form for her own happiness or creative expression. Or simply experiment with bold colors, cat eyes, and red lips. They are told, BS like “unless it’s a costume party, keep it to a minimum.

This is all two sides of the same coin...the "makeup is a lie!" folks and the "look prettier!" folks (who are often one in the same, as BIG SARGE demonstrates by saying that she looks "beat up" without it, but wearing it is a lie.) In either case, male opinions about female looks are the focus. They aren't stopping to even consider that a woman might look a certain way or wear (or NOT wear) makeup simply because that is what she prefers.

Listen, there is nothing deceitful about doing things to your body/appearance that make you happy. Your body, your face, your hair are all yours to change, adorn, or style (or not) in any way you please.

Beware guys who say that a woman wearing makeup is "fake," "wearing a disguise," or "lying." He might not be making that particular comment directed at you, but trust that his misogyny runs deep and it will have an impact on you at some point or another.

Basically, I'm leading the campaign against male opinions about female looks '14. Sure, we all have our personal preferences, but why do some guys have to make sure you ALWAYS know theirs? About random women they'll never even meet too! Like...let it go. 99% of the time it's irrelevant.

Please see the commenting policy before replying to this post.


  1. This post is wonderful. It is solely up to us as individuals to decide how we present ourselves to the public. It's no one's business as to what we put on our face!

  2. I may be wrong, but doesn't most commentary about women's makeup and fashion originate from other women? Is it really patriarchy if women are doing most of the criticism about makeup and clothes? I remember years ago controversy about whether women should have careers or be stay-at-home moms. How about respecting the choices each person makes in their lives rather than telling other people what you think they should do?

    1. So you're telling me that you read through this post, which cites numerous examples of men saying these things, and your response is "But women started it!!!"

    2. Nothing women do happens in a bubble and lots (most? all?) women have internalised the misogyny of the culture we're brought up in. Women's commentary on makeup and fashion happens within a culture that is deeply patriarchal. So yep, it is really patriarchy.

  3. Yea, really wonderful article and realistic as well.


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