Make up

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about make up lately, partly as a result of the recent #nomakeupselfie that’s been trending on Facebook. For a start, I wouldn’t usually bring make-up when I’m travelling, unless perhaps it’s a short city break with smart dinners out and the like. But even in my everyday life, I don’t wear a huge amount of make up, especially in the day time.

There’s been quite a lot of controversy about the #nomakeupselfie and rightly so – firstly because some people have been trying to claim that posting such a selfie is ‘courageous’ just like fighting cancer is. This is obviously bullshit, and incredibly belittling to the experiences of those with cancer. Then there’s the people who posted selfies on Facebook ‘for cancer awareness’ with no links or instructions regarding how to donate. As many have pointed out, there’s no shortage of awareness that cancer is a horrible disease, so I found these posts mildly infuriating and thoughtless.

However, apart from all the money that the campaign has raised (£8 million so far) – which is obviously great news – I think that it has sparked an important discussion on why so many women feel obliged to wear make up so much of the time. When some of my friends posted photos of themselves without make up it did make me realise that there are some girls I know whom I have barely, if ever, seen bare-faced. The idea that a significant proportion of our society’s women feel so uncomfortable in their own face’s appearance that they have to cover it up each day is not really a comforting thought.

I have very little problem with the wearing of make up on many occasions: for nights out, for smart dinners or drinks events where you want to dress up, when you’re bored and want to look a bit different for the day, on dates, or other occasions when you want to make it look like you’ve put effort in, at work* when meeting clients, when performing. There’s no denying that wearing make-up can make you look better – it’s the blindly putting it on EVERY day that upsets me, the girls who feel they can’t leave their room without spending a sizeable amount of time applying makeup. I sincerely hope that the #nomakeupselfie trend will have helped at least some of these to even just think about why they do this, and if it’s as necessary as they had previously thought. Perhaps if they tried going about their daily life bare-faced even once they might realise that it’s not as difficult as they might have anticipated. The trend on Facebook has certainly made me think more carefully about when and why I wear make up, and has made it more of a talking point between friends rather than a given. I hope this has been the case for others too.

What do you think? I think there are pretty decent arguments that can go further than this (i.e. all wearing of make up is to do with perpetuating an impossible ideal of female beauty) but I’m not sure how far I would go down along that line…

*There is a separate discussion to be held about the wearing of makeup in the workplace – it seems pretty unfair to me that to look respectable in the workplace women have to spend a considerably longer time getting ready each morning than men, as if there was something inherently inferior about women’s bodies’ suitability for the workplace.


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