feminism · I have a lot of feelings · make-up is my war paint

Make-up is my war paint

When I was in college, I didn’t exactly primp. I put on very sheer foundation, a lipstick, and powder, and I was out the door. The whole thing took 5 minutes, tops. I hardly touched-up my powder and lipstick, and so I was usually running around Manila with a shiny face and chapped lips.
Believe it or not, I actually had reasons behind that:
  1. Why bother putting on a full face of make-up when the Manila heat and humidity would just melt it all off in two minutes?
  2. Make-up is expensive. My student allowance was strictly budgeted for transportation, food, beer, and the occasional book. I did not see the sense in buying a 500-peso lipstick when I could have used that money for a Chuck Palahniuk novel.
  3. Applying make-up takes time. Back then, I was always running late, so painting my face was the last thing on my mind if I wanted to avoid an FA (Failure due to Absences) on my transcript.

Recently, though, I started to indulge in cosmetics and actually learn how to apply them properly. I read the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual, I did research on what was best for my skin type and tone, I studied how to apply this-or-that, I commented on beauty blogs and MakeupAlley to give my two cents. Almost immediately, I felt my self-esteem lift. I felt stronger, more beautiful, and more confident than ever.

I am now a true believer in cosmetics. And to be honest, I was a little ashamed of it.
I was ashamed to be seen as vapid for blogging about make-up. I was embarrassed to say that I take an extra 15 minutes to paint my face. I hesitate to take my cosmetic bag to the washroom to touch-up my powder.
All of this is because taking an interest in make-up can be seen as shallow and vapid. To lots of people, it’s a superficial pursuit, just a waste of time and money. Besides, as a self-proclaimed feminist, I didn’t want to burden people with the cognitive dissonance that goes along these lines: “You’re a feminist? But you like make-up! You’re making yourself a desirable object for men!” 
Ugh. Thank the stars I got away from that toxic thinking.
First of all, I honestly think that make-up is an art form, one that takes skills, practice, and the right tools in order to produce an aesthetically pleasing product. How different is it from artists who use canvases and paints? They’re just using different media.
Second, this is an avenue of self-expression. Some people like to get tattoos or piercings, some people like to wear pretty and unique outfits, and some people like wearing make-up.
Third, I am an intelligent woman, if I do say so myself. I can discuss a variety of topics (racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.) and can geek out very frequently about pop culture. Me wearing make-up doesn’t take away everything else that I am, nor does it make me any less smart and capable.
Fourth, there are also those who think that people wear make-up just to please men, or to make themselves look attractive for whichever gender they’re into. NEWSFLASH: I’m not wearing make-up to please anyone but myself. Not everything that women do is for the male gaze. Do you think men appreciate the beauty of perfectly-groomed brows? Didn’t think so. (Besides, it’s sort of a double-edged sword: you’ll get negative feedback whether or not you’re wearing make-up. Fuck it all and do as you please.)
It took me time to realize that being embarrassed to use cosmetics to feel good about yourself is pointless. If it makes you feel awesome and gives you confidence, do it! If, like me, your red lipstick makes you feel like you can conquer anything, then stop being ashamed of that pretty pout and frickin’ work it. ❤
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