I’ve never been a fan of makeup. I’ve dabbled in eyeliner and lipstick a little, but that was the extent of my experimentation; and only because I was going to be in social settings where I would have felt insecure otherwise.
I’ve been subtly and openly asked to wear makeup for a long time now. From friends (“Let us do it! You would look so much cuter with it”) to relatives (“It’s just what women do!”) many of my loved ones will insist on it. As I get older, this pressure just increases.
But it’s not just me. Plenty of women feel forced to put on a little blush before they rush out the door every morning. This feeling is called compulsory femininity, meaning that women are expected to do certain things just because they were assigned female at birth.
[bctt tweet=”Plenty of women feel forced to put on a little blush before they rush out the door every morning. There’s a word for this: compulsory femininity.” username=”wearethetempest”]
A Harvard University study of 2016 showed that employers perceptions of women’s likeability and trustworthiness increased if she more the right amount of makeup —not too “overdone”— as opposed to being barefaced. In 2013, a British survey revealed that 49% of participants thought makeup would be a major factor in deciding if they employed women in public facing roles like sales and 61% said they would be less likely to promote women in any jobs if they were barefaced.
There are personal anecdotes to back this up too. In Allure’s Pretty Pressure series, women from different professional backgrounds revealed that they had been told by their bosses that they would not be promoted if they did not wear makeup. Beauty retailers and bars expect saleswomen to wear ‘visible’ makeup. A study also revealed that men were more likely to tip waitresses with makeup as opposed to those who were barefaced. In 2016, a study in ‘grooming’ —which included using makeup for women but not for men— showed that a well-groomed woman (ie: one who wore makeup) was more likely to make $6000 more annually than one who was barefaced in some scenarios. Wow, right?
The cosmetic industry is big business and makeup is pretty expensive and time-consuming. The average Western woman may spend a whopping $300,000 on it during her lifetime, and around two weeks per year putting it on.
[bctt tweet=”The cosmetic industry is big business and makeup is pretty expensive and time-consuming.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Personally, I don’t want to put on makeup and I am tired of the discrimination that comes with being barefaced. We live in a world of insecurities where plenty of women reveal feeling forced to put on makeup every day. Makeup can cost us a lot of money and time we would rather spend elsewhere.
I hate plenty of things about makeup. The feeling of sweating through it and how it makes me more self-conscious. I don’t like that wearing it once can garner a few compliments. Sometimes it makes me feel like I need to wear it in order to feel beautiful.
Society tells women that they need to use cosmetics to cover up. Like a tax to pay for taking up space.
Feminists have been talking about beauty for a long time. Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) and Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex (1949) both frowned at the socialization and compulsion of women to adorn themselves, as did a lot of second-wave feminist theory. The lipstick feminism of the ’90s disagreed. It found pleasure in the expressive sexuality that cosmetics brought.
As the body-positivity movement gains steam many celebrities have decided to go barefaced to important events because they felt they relied on it too much. That’s pretty brave.
[bctt tweet=”What I want though, is a world where no woman feels compelled to enhance herself with cosmetics because she doesn’t feel enough on her own.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Growing up, makeup became an important part of a woman’s routine. Most women on television constantly wear visible makeup. They wear it when they are alone in their houses or about to go to bed or stranded without civilization somewhere. Tabloids seek out famous women without makeup only to run headlines about how tired they look. In 2012 when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited China, India, and Bangladesh on a business trip almost barefaced, the media focused on how “withdrawn” she looked.
I may start wearing makeup regularly one day. Either because I’ve fallen in love with it or because I feel insecure without it. What I want though, is a world where no woman feels compelled to enhance herself with cosmetics because she doesn’t feel enough on her own.