“Paint and pattern do not celebrate in symbol the physical and social body; they celebrate the conformity of fashion” (Robert Brain, Anthropologist)
Why do we wear makeup, and who decides what it looks like? I was thinking this whilst looking at a twitter feed that was sharing the latest un-wearable trend in makeup. Now, I like outlandish looks as much as the next makeup-artist, but it can’t really be called a trend if it was featured on a catwalk and doesn’t translate into every day. Just calling something a trend does not make it so.
Or does it? Women are more prone to conforming to society and peer pressure than our male counterparts. We generally don’t wish to stand out too much and expose ourselves to criticism and judgement. In Western culture, women’s faces are under constant scrutiny, so we are constantly aware of how we present ourselves, and we use makeup to dress our faces as we dress ourselves.
Historically, women rely on their youth and beauty (or the illusion of youth and beauty) for their livelihood and survival. Chances of marrying well largely depended on your looks and breeding. Now women can live independently, but still, it seems that everywhere we look, the message is that only young and beautiful people obtain success and happiness. The media reinforces this message everyday, and ageing is seen as something to be fought, not gracefully embraced.
Apart from pushy advertising, there are a few other reasons that we wear makeup, and it can change from person to person and according to a situation. Some of us wear makeup for egoistical reasons – to provoke attention and intensify personality. People who fall under this category include sub-cultures such as goths and punks, or anyone who wear makeup to stand out and define themselves. Makeup is also worn to create a desired identity or mask, a very obvious example being Lady Gaga, but we wear different makeup for different occasions to send a certain message. If you went for a job interview you would wear natural looking makeup, and If you go out you might do smokey come-hither eyes.
Some people would wear makeup purely to please others, to make themselves look pretty and feel accepted. In some circles it is seen as socially unacceptable to go out without makeup. Makeup can also create a facade of confidence – there are many women are not able to leave the house without a fully made up face, it serves as protection for our fragile self-esteem.
So why do I like makeup? Because it’s also creative and fun of course!
Why do you wear makeup? Do you feel you are expected to or is it something you enjoy? Do you feel pressured to wear it in a certain way, or do you experiment with what suits your face and personality?