I've had a long relationship with makeup. As a product of the Catholic school system, wearing makeup to school was not an option. In college, I don't think I really wore it either, thanks to The Age of Grunge. It didn't really work with my on-campus uniform of oversized t-shirt, flannels, and holey jeans. The last two years of highschool and the first summer of college, though, I worked at a now defunct Ulta-style chain called Cosmetics Center, which is where my love of art, painting, and color collided with the realm of makeup. A few visits to NYC introduced me to Sephora, and I was hooked.
I encourage you to keep reading to see why I, someone who had a love of the stuff and who makes their money off of the cosmetics industry, would urge anyone to skip their makeup... 'cause frankly, that sounds more and more stupid the more I write it!
I've had this story in my "idea file" for quite awhile but hadn't gotten to it yet. I got my virtual kick in the pants by Rabbit Write, a blog about "sex, gender, and intimacy" but most importantly a forum for "communicating strength and empathy." It's a new site to me, and I was routed there by the indomitable Zoetica Ebb, of Biorequiem.com, when she shared her participation in the Rabbit Write-created "No Make-Up Week". I can't wait to dig in further and explore Rabbit Write, but for now I'm going to stick to the topic which is not wearing makeup.
Rachel Rabbit Write used last week as a testing ground. She took the week and went makeup-free and, more importantly, studied her thoughts, fears and experiences with, without, and about makeup. No Make-Up Week, September 20th - 27th, was open to any and all who wished to participate. And so I did. It's over now, but that doesn't mean you can't stretch your comfort zone and try it yourself, right? Right!
The image to the right is Rabbit Write's.
I really would love to hear your thoughts about this topic and welcome you to either add a Comment below the post or email me to discuss it further (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ya'll, this is a touchy subject, and it sure was eye opening! In reasearching for this article, I ended up viewing some lovely words, seeing some interesting statistics, and reading some really strong opinions. I respect everyone's view, but also wanted to give you mine and hear yours.
Makeup and Self Esteem
- A study done by Superdrug (a drugstore chain in England) says that 70% of women will "never" leave the house without makeup. via
- The same study says "40% of women would be embarrassed to be seen by a friend or co-worker without a full face of makeup." via
- 71% of women in the study said makeup made them feel prettier. via
- The Superdrug study results indicate that one fifth of the mates (boyfriends, husbands, whatever) of the women polled had never seen the woman without makeup. Even in bed. via
- Sixteen percent of the women in this poll wouldn't let their parents see them without makeup. via
- A quarter of the people polled by Superdrug "said they think people close to them would be shocked at how 'ugly' they are without their face on". via
Read that last one again. In a group of 3,000 women, a whopping 750 of them thought they were too ugly to be seen without makeup. Ladies, ladies, ladies... where do I start with this?! But start I must, and it had to start here.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I am. And very, very sad. When I was working at MAC, women would call in advance to make sure they wouldn't have to either show-up for appointments without makeup or have it taken off in the chair. Well, that was a tricky one, because there's no real way to pick your new foundation correctly without the artist seeing your skin. But it always startled me, especially when a woman would say she wanted to have a chair in the back, hidden.
Every single woman is special. I truly believe that. It's why I have made the conscious decision to target my makeup services towards "real women" (as opposed models, actresses, or other not-real women). What have parents done, or society, or taunting kids, or fashion magazines, or whatever it is that has made women feel that they are too ugly to be seen? Maybe in some small way I can help repair that for the women I meet. At least, that's what I hope.
As I said in the opening, I went through most of college without makeup, nail polish, or probably even showers. ;) Once I got hooked, though, I admit: I, too, wouldn't go anywhere without covering up my "flaws". And that eventually became a habit of putting on a full application of foundation and, more often than not, "fixing" my brows, lashes, and whatever else was hidious that day.
Have you ever considered that wearing a full face of makeup may be making your skin worse?
Then you have to cover more up with makeup. Then you're stuck in a vicious cycle!
So that's pretty much how I lived my twenties... hiding and covering. In my early thirties, I was a little more comfortable in my own skin. Sometimes I'd go run errands without makeup, but any kind of interaction with someone I knew would find me made-up again.
It wasn't until my mid-thirties that I really became truly OK with myself, inside and out. Coincidentally, this was about the time I met my husband and we started our family. I liked myself. I realized that my beauty is not external - it's from the things I can give from the inside.
Truly coincidentally, this was the same time I became a makeup artist. Maybe we can't find our passion until we find ourselves...
What is your history with makeup? When did you start wearing it? Have there been times where you didn't wear makeup at all? What is your current relationship with the stuff?
Makeup and Money
- According to Suzanne Reisman, on BlogHer, "cosmetics is a 30 billion dollar industry with an annual growth rate of 20%".
- Suzanne also writes "cosmetics are recession-proof". (Though some smaller companies might beg to differ, I suspect she's right).
- The average woman will spend $13,000 on makeup in her lifetime" according to a study by the British store Superdrug.
- A new survey shows that a woman spends about $180 every 12 months on cosmetics for an average 65-year life span according to the UK's Daily Mail. via
- Another study, sponsored by the YWCA, estimates the monthly expenditure for the average American woman to be about $100. via
- That $100 a month, if saved and invested for five years, would pay for a full year of tuition and fees at a public college..." via
- The breakdown, according to the Daily Mail story: "$1466 on lipstick, $3120 on mascara, and $2274 on eye shadow. The average Jane shops five times a year for new makeup." via
That's a lot of money, and I'm going to confess: when I was working full-time outside of the house, a lot of it was mine! These days, I'm not spending as much, if at all, which is really OK on a personal level since my stash is nuts. I have enough to last me personally and on gigs... forver! From a blogging standpoint, I wish I had a ton of income to toss at makeup so I could share it here. OK... and because I love new stuff.
I'm also a collector. I have three collections in my life*. One: I collect Day of the Dead skeletons. Weird? Maybe. A conversation for another time? Yes. Two: I have a beloved collection of antique cranberry glass. Three: I collect makeup.
Sure, I rationalize my absurd quantity of makeup ("it's for my kit!" ... "it's for the blog!"), but really it's very simple: I like it. I enjoy seeing the packaging, trying a new color, seeking out a new pretty to own. I don't have a huge wardrobe, I love shoes but don't buy many, and my purse collection is meager (and low-cost). I simply direct it all to makeup. I'm a girlie-girl in some ways, so this collection satisfies that side of me. I also mentioned before that I'm a painter, an artist. That's, I think, the real crux of it. I love the color. I love the things makeup does, the powers of transformation, the blending, the feel, the texture. (But mostly the color!)
*We won't talk about my previous collection issues --- cats! At one point, when I was working as a veterinary hospital manager, I had seven. That's under control now, though, and we only house two at Meade Manse. For now... ;)
Aside from my "altruistic" reasons for buying (it's all for you, dear readers!), I simply enjoy the products. It's a multi-sensory experience for me that helps me relax, centers me, and opens up my creativity.
How do you feel about the amount of money mentioned in the statistics above? Is it on par with your spending? High? Low? Is this type consumerism disgusting or ok in your book?
- "Total amount of time the AW [average woman] spends getting ready to leave the house in a lifetime: 2 years." via
That's a bit depressing, no? We'll lose two years to makeup! Of course, in my case I'm sure it's going to add up to more than two years (even if you factor in the early 90's!).
Are you comfortable with the amount you spend on makeup and cosmetics? Have you ever hidden makeup or receipts from someone?
Makeup is important to me. But so am I.
And so are you, which is why I'm going to tell you that I think you're beautiful without your makeup. No, really. You are. Because you're funny and smart and caring and cranky and tidy and silly and feisty and a good present wrapper and clever with numbers and a bad golfer and a mother/sister/daughter/friend. It's those things that make you beautiful, whatever those things are. What makes you beautiful is you, not what you put on you.
Makeup is a tool. A toy. A game.
It can be used to disguise dark circles or a pimple or even a larger flaw. And that's ok.
Makeup can play up the flush of the cheek or the twinkle in your eyes or your kissable lips. And that's ok.
But makeup is a tool and a toy. Treat it that way. When you're in the mood to play, play! But don't play hide-and-seek.
I've learned a few things over the years through my personal experiences and through working with women like you.
- Strangers aren't really looking at you.
They may seem to be, but the moment you're gone, quite frankly, you're forgotten. If the dude in line behind me thought I was fat, saw my freckles, noticed my breakout, or thought my haircut was unflattering, does it re ally matter? Not to me. He won't remember me tomorrow, and he doesn't factor into my life at all. In fact, I'll probably never see him again. If he wants to judge, I'm going to let that be on him... 'cause it's not on me!
- Strangers probably aren't seeing your flaws.
Honestly, ya'll... think about it. Can you picture the folks you saw the last time you were at the grocery store? I kind-of can, but it's not with judgement and it's certainly not with detail. Usually you're the lady in the orange shirt, the man with the hat, the woman who reminds me of a friend of a friend.
Even if I did see a flaw, it's more of an observation. It's like my mind notices the difference and registers it and moves on. But even if someone did look at you and judge you, why does that matter? How does that change your life, really? It doesn't matter in 5 minutes and surely not in 50 years.
- Most people can't see the things that you see in the mirror.
Close your eyes a second and picture yourself the last time you put on your makeup. Put yourself in the moment. What is your posture? How are you sitting?
When you're plucking your eyebrows, applying your cover-up, changing the shape of your eyes with tons of liner, you're right up on your mirror. Things are magnified, even, in some mirrors. Now, hold your mirror an arm's length away. Take a really good look. That's how your close friends and family see you. Strangers aren't even that close. Are your "flaws" as apparent?
- Your friends and loved ones may see your "flaws" but guess what? They don't care!
The people who really matter, the people whose opinions you care about and who will remember you in fifty years, they don't care. They simply don't care. You're breaking out. So what? You have a scar. So what? You have a misshapen face from an accident. So what? Your acne scars from your teen years are sticking around. So what? You plucked the wrong hair and now your eyebrows are wonky. Really, who cares?!
Maybe it's true. Maybe you have flaws and they prevent some people from getting to know you. Are those the people who you want in your life?
Your loved ones are happy about your promotion, proud of your hard work, amused by your jokes, worried about your health, and excited to spend time with you. That's what important to them. Don't belive me? Think of your mom. Your sister. Your kid. Your BFF. Your significant other. Picture that person. Are you thinking about her flaws or about how she makes you feel? Does your mind skip to the shape of his nose or to the way he makes you laugh?
If we spent more time worried about our insides, about how we relate to others, the world would be much different.
I used to have no patience. I used to get very angry, fairly easily. I was cranky. I yelled at people in other cars, I snapped at strangers when they frustrated me, and I was a little bit miserable to be around at times. When I covered up my breakouts and distracted people from my small eyes and wrinkles, I still wasn't happy. I wasn't beautiful. When I worked on my crankiness, impatience, and other internal "flaws", I became a happier, nicer, more pleasant person. Ironically, I also became more comfortable with my outside appearance. I don't need makeup because I know it's not going to hide the things I really want to hide. I can pretend my pimple is the problem, but my bad mood is really my issue. My beauty is from a well-written paragraph; from the fact that I overcame that cranky, negative mindset; from the painting that came from my soul to that canvas; in the way I trip over my own feet; in the dinner I cooked for my family; in my love for my daughters. I am a rape survivor. A person with a chronic illness. A goofball. When I laugh, I'm beautiful. So are you.
I will happily teach you how to cover your scars and distract from your war wounds. I can do that. But makeup can't make you feel better about yourself. If that's why you're wearing it, you'll always have a love-hate relationship with it.
Makeup is a mask. I've read or heard that many times. It used to anger me, because I love my makeup. But, and I say this with love (not anger, the way it's often said), it's true. Makeup is a mask. The way you use the mask, though, is what is important. Are you hiding? Or are you playing?
One of the statistics that inspired Rabbit Write to start her experiment was this one: eight in ten women prefer their female colleagues to wear makeup. They would rather employ a makeup-wearing woman than one who skipped it. What's that about, ladies? I have strong doubts that it's because we want our working environment to be esthetically pleasing. Maybe it's because a woman without makeup scares us. Because we're afraid to do the same. Because she's spoiling it for the rest of us who are still hiding.
My daughters see me put makeup on myself and on other women in my home-office. They see drawers and baskets full of makeup. They know I love it. They also know, because I tell them, that makeup is fun and a game. And they know what I look like without it - and that I'm ok with that. It's important to me that my girls learn from me that they are beautiful - and that I think I am, too - so when the rest of the world hits them with other messages they may have a fighting chance.
I love makeup 100% . It's fun and it's how I like to spend my time. Hell, I put it on myself, other people, and I even write about it for a living! But it's not a chore and it's not something I'm embarrassed about, and it's not because I'm hiding or lying to myself. I don't care at all if you see my external flaws because I know that's not the real me. And if you think it is, then that's not my issue, is it? Besides, the crinkles around my eyes are from smiling, and I think that's beautiful. Don't you?
Makeup is important to me. But so am I.
What are your real issues? What are you going to do about them?
If you're starting to rethink your relationship with makeup after reading this, I challenge you to go without makeup. I'm not saying hit up your class reunion next weekend sans fards (but that's ok, too!). Baby steps are ok. Skip the makeup when you go to the grocery store. Run out to fill-up your tank without foundation. Or simply go without today when you're home. When feelings come up about it, bad, good or indifferent, feel them completely. See where they come from and where they take you. And then, if you want, tell me how that process ended up for you.
Did you like this article? I'd love it if you'd Tweet it or share it on Facebook or pass it along to a friend! The more our blog grows, the more opportunities and conversation we can have.
Here's the link: http://claresauntie.typepad.com/beauty_school/2010/09/women-and-makeup.html
Editor's note: I am sorry about the apparent lack of consitency in this post when it comes to my spelling of "makeup". I prefer to ditch the hyphen. Some of the sources I've quoted, though, keep it in. When quoting, I've used their words (of course) and so you'll see the alternate spelling. Neither spelling is wrong.
Subscribe to BSB for more thought-provoking articles and, usually, lots of makeup! Clicking here will give you the option to have us added to your feed reader of choice or get our posts via email. Naturally, we would never ever ever sell or share your email address!