Words: Jessica Sheridan
I’m going to discuss something very important to me: make-up.
I can already hear you sighing. I can see you rolling your eyes or cocking a (perfectly sculpted) eyebrow because make-up isn’t that important. And you’re right; I guess it’s not that important. But make-up culture helps demonstrate something more important than simply reviewing the latest Urban Decay Naked palette (which is also very important).
I went to a house party a few years back for a birthday. I was wearing make-up, and my friends who were attending knew I probably would be. Anyone who has known me for more than ten seconds will know that I love putting on make-up. I never really wore it much during high school, and now that I had discovered the wonders of make-up I wore it every chance I got. I found my friends and as normal my bestie was full of eyeliner compliments. Perfect way to start the evening.
I overheard some people talking about a book series I liked, so I tuned in and tried to get involved. But to my puzzlement one of the more charismatic guys in the group brushed off a lot of my attempts at joining in on the conversation. He exclaimed in surprise shortly afterwards when my friends properly introduced me and he found out I was a law student. Why the surprise you ask? He replied that he didn’t think a girl who wore so much make-up could be smart enough to be a law student.
Why are people so quick to judge people wearing make-up? When did wearing mascara become synonymous with stupidity, or at least antonymous with intelligence?
Cosmetics are a multi-billion dollar industry, reaping in the rewards as we pay $50 plus a pound of flesh for a bottle of the latest matte 27-hour long-lasting blemish-covering magic-fan-dango liquid foundation. And perhaps half of it is FOMO, and perhaps half of it is brand loyalty, but whatever the reason, we spend hundreds of dollars a year maintaining our make-up bags.
It’s not a decision we make lightly. Despite the increasing cost of living, setting aside money for make-up is still a priority for many of us. And as make-up prices go up, we continue to buy up. Or, if you’re like me, you wait for Boxing Day sales and stock up on your favourite concealer and lip colours like it’s the apocalypse.
Despite the financial investment we make into cosmetic culture, there are still people – particularly men – who try to police what we do. Why spend all that money when we look just as pretty without it? Why do we conceal our self-esteem and highlight our insecurities? Why do we mask our faces and lie about how we really look?
The short answer? We don’t care what you think.
This might come as a shock to you, but we aren’t cashing our paychecks at Sephora for your approval. We aren’t dressing ourselves up for your attention or comment, and we certainly don’t care if you think we look prettier with or without make-up. Our make-up is not for you. Though I’m amazed at how self-important someone must be to believe that another person – a total stranger – would spend so long applying product to their face every morning just for their approval.
When I get up in the morning and sit down gleefully in front of my mirror, I’m not smiling for anyone but myself. And when I apply my make-up I’m not thinking about covering my skin to hide it from my boyfriend or my family – I’m applying it because I want to. I sincerely enjoy wearing make-up; there’s a certain art to it, and when I wear it I feel wonderful. It’s just like wearing your favourite pair of shoes or your best dress.
It makes me feel good, and that is the only reason I wear make-up.
I am sure that some people wear make-up for different reasons: some people wear make-up because it’s part of their corporate dress code; some people wear make-up because it’s an important day and they want to cover dark circles or blemishes for photos; some wear make-up because they might want to impress certain people. But I can almost guarantee you that most of these are blue moon occasions.
People aren’t spending their hard-earned money to try and look pretty for you. They aren’t trying to lie to you with fake eyelashes (because honestly only an idiot would believe my natural lashes touch my brow bone). We aren’t spending hours watching and making YouTube tutorials just so we can teach each other how to be more attractive for you. And we certainly aren’t wearing make-up for you.
It’s all about us, and does not mean we aren’t also happy, creative, smart and warm people. My worth should not be determined by the length of my eyeliner wing.
Make-up can bring confidence. It can bring happiness. It can bring entire communities of beauty enthusiasts together. So the next time you want to tell someone they are wearing too much make-up, don’t.