You May Not Like My Decision to Wear Makeup, But It’s My Own Little Form of Feminist Revolution

Dawn Bevier

When women dictate what right and wrong for other women, that’s not progress, it’s persecution

Call me sick. Call me the shameful product of a patriarchal society. It’s okay. I’ve heard it before, and it makes no difference to me. I look pretty darn good for a forty-eight-year-old woman. And let me tell you, it’s not from good DNA.

Just last month I spent four hundred dollars on beauty products that can only be prescribed by a doctor. They’ve kept me looking a decade younger than most of my friends. And guess what? Those products were worth the money.

And yes I get Botox. I’ve also had fillers. And laser treatments. And microdermabrasion. And once I even tried lip injections, which I never did again because I didn’t like the look.

What I want to know is why it is so wrong to admit I do these things?

Because society has so zealously of late embraced the “No Makeup” movement, it’s becoming rarer and rarer to find articles on cosmetic treatments and emerging beauty trends. It’s all about accepting your flaws. Playing them up. Embracing them.

Currently, it’s a faux pas of major proportions to admit you want to do things such as erase your wrinkles, hide your freckles, or whittle your waist. However, saying you don’t shave your underarms or tweeting #no filter or #naturalbeauty gains you instant adulation.

And I one hundred percent support these women’s rights to their own expressions of individuality. But I also have a right to express mine through makeup.

As a matter of fact, I was immensely proud to see celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow admit she had taken anti-wrinkle injections in her latest interview with Allure magazine. But I know some, wait let me change that, many, now call her foolish or superficial.

Even the article itself was a bit disrespectful to Paltrow. While she was honestly confessing to a decision she knew many would see to be a step back in the feminist movement, the editors littered her article with boldfaced notes focusing on the inherent danger of these injections. It made Paltrow not only look shallow, but it also made her look like an idiot.

For example, one note stated a fact from the Journal of the American Medical Association that “a single gram of botulinum toxin in crystalline form, ‘evenly dispersed and inhaled, would kill more than 1 million people’.”

So does getting injections make her reckless? A traitor to advocates of natural beauty, self-acceptance, and feminism? Not in my opinion.

When asked about her decision to slowly wade into the waters of cosmetic procedures and injections, Paltrow states, “I don’t know that I would go full-bore into other stuff. But I’m not opposed. People have asked me, ‘Would you do this? Would you do that?’ I’m open to anything. I need to gauge what’s right for me at every phase in my life. Women should not judge other women, and we should be supportive of the choices we make.”

And that’s my belief as well. That to judge other women’s personal choices or appearances is an ironic act that actually goes against what feminists are fighting for in the world.

But often die-hard members of this community see me and other female beauty “junkies” as the enemy.

As a matter of fact, in an Independent article entitled “Come on Feminists, Ditch the Makeup Bag. It’s a Far More Radical Statement Than Burning Your Bra,” author Julie Bindel mentions the fact that even as a child, she felt disdain for “the idea of smothering [her] face in various pastes and powders,” referring later to these things as “hideous gunk.” She also mentions that “vast numbers of women endure the daily routine of applying makeup.”

I respect her right to feel this way, but to me, making up my face and applying cosmetics is not something I “endure.” It’s something I relish.

I love the art of it, and the truth is I come to the mirror with excitement, not drudgery. I like the fact that I can be Michelangelo when I wake up in the morning to apply cosmetics. There are a thousand different personalities inside of me, and I want to use makeup to express these myriad aspects of my identity. It makes me feel empowered, not dominated by the “patriarchy.”

An article in Fashionista cites British makeup artist Pat McGrath, who states that when creating the looks for the Fall 2017 Prada show his focus was
“on using makeup more as a statement and a mode of self-expression, than as a way to please other people.”

And this is what makeup is to me. Self-expression.

When I wear makeup, I feel bold, not powerless. By using these products, I am putting whatever particular aspect of myself that is “speaking” to me out there for the world to see. The way I view it, this is an act of daring, not of docility. It is the courage not to hide what I feel inside, but to own it.

Psychologists even recognize this fact, calling this emotional response the “lipstick effect,” one which centers around the theory that wearing makeup “helps women to have the feelings of self-esteem, personality, and attitude.”

And it’s no secret that when people feel confident, the likelihood increases that their goals and endeavors will be successful.

As a matter of fact, an article in the Huffington Post details a study done by researchers and scientists from Harvard Medical School. The study focused on whether or not the confidence boost of wearing makeup increased cognitive abilities. They divided study participants into three groups before giving them a series of tests to take. One group drew, one group listened to uplifting music, and one group applied makeup.

The results?

The volunteers who listened to music had good outcomes on the tests, but the students wearing makeup had even better ones.

And if wearing makeup increases my attractiveness and audacity and augments my intelligence as well, I’m not going to stop wearing it, no matter how many people see me as perpetuating the patriarchy.

My personal ideology is that by embracing makeup and other things that give me pleasure and feelings of empowerment, I am giving an invisible middle finger to a culture that, throughout the centuries, has denied me and other members of my gender choices on what to do as it concerns both our bodies and our behaviors.

That’s what makes me a feminist, at least in my own opinion. And as a feminist, I’ve been taught to raise my voice and speak my truth, so this proclamation is me doing just that.

The truth is my decision to wear makeup is my own little feminist revolution, one that I joyfully fight each day as I reach for the bright red lipstick on my vanity top.

The Bottom Line:

Singer Alicia Keys, a celebrity who has been a dominant force in supporting the no-makeup movement, posted a picture of herself sans makeup on Twitter stating, “Y’all, me choosing to be makeup free doesn’t mean I’m anti-makeup. Do you!”

And by choosing to wear makeup, I am “[doing] me.” And in my humble opinion, that’s what feminism is all about.

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Sanford, NC

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