Makeup: facade or artistic expression?

I cannot say I have ever been the type of person to have a strong opinion on the value of makeup for women and society, but lately I have been asked to consider its worth. There are many stereotypes surrounding makeup, and a lot of jokes and judgement targeted at people who wear it.

For example: What are these people trying to hide? Are these people so insecure that they cannot love themselves for who they are? How do women who wear makeup expect others to love them for who they are if they cannot love themselves first?

Personally, I used to be a part of the percentage that was confused about the entire institution of makeup.  Part of me still asks that last question. Up until recently, I did not really allow myself to wear too much makeup due to my own insecurities. First, I wanted to make sure I loved myself with and without “a mask” before I showed the world an altered face. The makeup I did wear was usually for medical reasons. I used foundation to cover scars, along with other makeup to cover what wasn’t there.  As I grew past my insecurities, makeup became a way for me to step outside of my comfort zone a little. I didn’t think I was confident enough to wear red lipstick, and now I own a few different shades. Nothing crazy, but it’s an extension of my own confidence.

But that’s just my story, isn’t it?

For starters, makeup demonstrator and entrepreneur Michelle Phan said it best, “Makeup is not a mask that covers up your beauty; it’s a weapon that helps you express who you are from the inside.”  Contrary to popular belief, women (and men) like to wear makeup for many different reasons — not just to impress or dupe.  Makeup should not be looked at as something that gives people “trust issues,” but rather an individual’s personal decision.

Makeup is an art that traverses time. The Egyptians and the Greeks used it; nearly every society in history has incorporated it into their lives.  It is a practice that dates back at least 6,000 years, and it’s certainly not a “trend” that will disappear.  Makeup has always been a powerful tool for expression.  It gives women confidence, it makes them feel even more beautiful than they already are, it is an art show.  It may cover up imperfections, but it brings out the person behind the so-called mask.

This matter certainly is not black and white; the effects of the media and photoshopping on young girls have been discussed extensively.  Of course, women and girls using makeup in direct response to wanting to reach the “ideal” look is a sad reality and should be fought against, but at the end of the day, this is not always why makeup is used.  Yes, women need to love themselves, and appreciate their beauty and worth with or without the makeup, but if this is the tool that helps them, then who are we to stop them?

Don’t be fooled, makeup is not a facade. The girl behind the makeup is the same person with or without it.

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