For most of my adult life, I didn’t leave the house without makeup. I went through phases of what that entailed exactly, but usually it was concealer, foundation (or tinted moisturizer), powder, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara.
At night, I’d remove all of that, wash with a cleanser, then put on toner and moisturizer. Wake up, do it all again. Listing all of that makes me exhausted, and I know my list is probably far shorter than most.
Cut to today. I pretty much never wear makeup, and last night I washed my face with raw honey. Once a week I cleanse/moisturize with argan oil and a hot wash cloth, but most days are either micellar water or some wash/mask you could literally eat.
Why am I telling you this? Recently I’ve been thinking about the relationship between women and makeup and more importantly the reasons behind why we wear it. I would wager that for many women, makeup serves more as a coat of armor than a sexy art project.
Our society has conditioned us to feel like we need makeup hide our flaws before we enter the world. If someone who usually wears makeup shows up to work or an event with a naked face, I guarantee someone will ask, “are you okay?” or “are you sick?”
But my questions to you is “are you okay under that mask?” and “are you sick of feeling like you have to cover yourself to be accepted?”
Before I go further, I want to make it clear that I’m not anti-makeup (I covet the look of red lips and hope to one day find one that doesn’t make me feel like I have clown-mouth). For some, putting on makeup is a creative act that makes them feel empowered, and I would never tell someone that that was wrong.
What I am against is women feeling like they HAVE to wear makeup. I’m not hating the player, I’m hating the game.
Social media and celebrity culture usually play into our insecurities about needing to put our best face forward, but there are some game-changers out there that are working to frame makeup a choice instead of an obligation.
Enter Alicia Keys. She has been championing the #nomakeup movement for a while now, and I cannot begin to explain how happy I am that young girls can see a celebrity on the red carpet who actually looks like a real person.
The best part is that she came to this decision organically. In an article she wrote for Lena Dunam’s website Lenny Letter, she explains how she was sick of the perfection and beauty standards for women.
One day at a photoshoot, the photographer surprised her by wanting to shoot her without getting dolled up first. That was it. She felt beautiful and empowered and saw how this was what she had been asking for.
She closes the article with this declaration: “I hope to God it's a revolution. 'Cause 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.”
And this is my message to you: You don’t have to cover up anything. Your face is not flawed (even when hormones are raging and mini-mountains are forming along your jawline). Wear makeup if you love it, but give yourself the option to embrace your beautiful face just as it is.