Monday, February 22, 2016

Discussion: Stigmatization of Cosmetics

For this discussion post I will be talking about make-up in society and how it's been consistently tied up with negative connotations. Firstly, I'd like to make it clear that whether you wear makeup or do not, I won't judge in anyway- nor do I think anybody else should. For myself I enjoy a little bit of makeup, such as a nice red lip, as it does come with an empowering feelings. I think it's a personal choice and one that you should simply respect, rather than tear down.

One stigma that comes with wearing makeup is that you're doing it due to a lack of positive self-esteem and an absolute need to fulfill to societal beauty ideals. Furthermore, some see makeup as this macabre like tool that exists to give a false sense of security to those who wear it, and girls who wear makeup just can't be comfortable without it. It is because of that reasoning they don't wear makeup, maybe preach to others to do the same or even judge those who do. I do understand that this reasoning has roots in a positive strain of thinking- that some want girls to feel comfortable in their own skin without the use of cosmetics.

However, I personally find flaws in this thought process. It assumes that all women wear makeup for the exact same reason (poor self confidence issues and a need to uphold beauty standards). This is obviously not the case, as there are so many unique reasons people wear makeup. Some do so for self-expression, and I'd argue that makeup is definitely a creative outlet. Others do it to bring out certain features that they want to be highlighted. Some, like me, wear makeup as it brings a out a sense of empowerment. It's like wearing a pair of heels, it makes you feel powerful and like you're putting an in a little something extra into your appearance. In that way it does make me feel more confident, but that being said that doesn't mean I'm not confident without it. I'm not oblivious to the fact that some aren't comfortable without makeup, but I don't believe makeup is the culprit we need to blame for that, as I'm sure the individual's poor self esteem existed before they could even fathom makeup. I could write a whole other discussion on who is to blame but that is another story all together, but without getting into it I'll just casually point to the media.

There's also this bold assumption that wearing makeup means you're being a  conformist to society's ideals of beauty, a mantra I've seen preached over and over again in many YA stories- where the main character will look down on those who do wear makeup. I cannot speak for all women, but the majority I know don't wear makeup solely for the purpose to "conform" to societal ideals. To hear that some truly believe this really gets under my skin as not only is it quite judgmental, but to me it assumes that women should feel some sort of shame for enjoying something like makeup, which is traditionally feminine. I have also noticed that time and time again that things such as having an enjoyment in things like makeup and fashion tend to be viewed as shallow and vapid interests, solely existing not only to please society in general, but more specifically men. That blows my mind, like I mentioned previously there's just so many reasons women wear makeup and it's an highly individualized choice. Men shouldn't have any bearing on that and to make such an assumption like that is frankly offensive. It assumes that women exist to simply please men, and god forbid they make a choice that doesn't have anything to do with them.

Overall it's clear to me that there are many negative stereotypes and judgments that come along with wearing makeup. In response to this, I will reiterate what I said at the beginning of this post. Again, it's simply an individual's choice to wear makeup and one that has several different reasons behind it that differs person by person. We shouldn't judge or shame anybody for simply making a choice, instead we should respect it- especially when it literally has no bearing on us. I'd also really like to see a decrease in YA of the shaming of traditionally feminine things such as makeup, it truly drives me up the wall. In fact don't be surprised if you see a future post specifically on that topic (;


  1. I love makeup. I don't wear it often, but when I do I feel the way I feel when I'm wearing a great outfit or a killer pair of shoes - confident, put together and powerful. There's been a lot of research lately on how body language changes our thoughts and ultimately our brains. For me, makeup does the same thing.

    Plus I just love playing with it, and thanks to being a consultant for a major direct sales cosmetics company, I get it at a discount.

    There are days when I barely splash some water and soap on my face, and days where I'll be fully made up. I don't judge others' preferences, if I'm wearing makeup it's for me, not for men or society in general.

    1. Yeah honestly I'm really inconsistent with make-up, and when I do wear it I stick to bright lipsticks and mascara only really. BUT STILL. Makes me feel so empowered. I think you make a great (and true!) point about connecting makeup to the body language research

      And omg Nicole you're so lucky! Lol makeup is just so much fun to play with (: I'd spend so much money omg.

      PREACH GIRL. It's definitely a personal preference sort of deal, one we shouldn't have any concern/judgement over

  2. When it comes to young adult, it always seems the mean / popular is generally always described as being this made over glamazon . I think the onus is solely on the author with that example, they're catering to what they see is a stereotype and assuming that the book loving female teen reader is a 'Bella' type character, the plain girl next door who wins the boy. It's insulting.

    It's the same as assuming a woman wears makeup or dresses specifically to impress a man. Some women might and if that makes the feel empowered and desired then I'm all for anything that can boost the female self esteem. But it's generally women who give women labels and that's what disgusts me most. From your mother asking you as a teen why you need all that muck' on your face to when you get to my age and have a makeup free day and everyone within your orbit asks if you're either sick or telling you how tired you look.

    Women need to celebrate one another and drop the labels. Authors included. Make up does not equate to villainous boyfriend thief, a vapid airhead or someone your 'Plain Jane' protagonist can triumph over. Stop feeding stereotypes.

    Incredible post Larissa <3 loved it immensely.

    1. YES. Omg, it's the worst thing ever because it's like villianizing make up???? And yeah in that Bella appealing sense it comes such ridiculous pandering to me. Because of course Bella is the only heroine we can relate to and adore.

      and yes!! It's another generalization and not a positive or common one at that. AND OMG THAT IS THE WORST. You can never please people. It's either you're looking rather like a zombie from the walking dead or you're just trying too hard >.<

      YES. We need to stop tearing each other down and build us up. And authors who just perpetuate this negativity is also the problem, as is readers not calling them out.

      Thank you Kelly <33

  3. I didn't start wearing make up until a couple of years ago, but OMG, it
    absolutely changed my life. I don't always wear it because I'm so lazy,
    and make up can be real hard at times - I still can't get eyeliner
    right! But my point is, make up makes me feel pretty.

    Anyways, the stereotypes against women who love and embrace makeup is
    beyond irritating. Even if they are doing it to gain more self
    confidence, what's wrong with that??? Absolutely NOTHING. People can be
    real dumb shits at times.

    And the argument that being obsessed with make up is vapid and
    materialistic ... *face palm* It's my freaking life, my money so if I
    choose to be obsessed with make up, it's none of your fucking business. I
    mean it's not hurting anyone, so why are you even bothered?? I just
    don't get it! Like go worry about something else of more significance.

    I've also heard the argument that some women wear make up to seduce and deceive men ... Like whuuut?

    Don't get me started on YA villanizing and slut shaming girls who wear
    make up. It's so damaging considering the primary audience of YA is

    Anyways, you articulated this really well, Larissa! Great post!

      So fierce but UGH, I mess up usually and have to re-do it so many times that I end up giving up haha.

      And yes!! It's honestly so judgmental of people to comment on what THEY do to THEIR own appearance. It's somebody's own choice and honestly- how does it effect you!?

      And omg to make the assumption that I'm shallow just because I'm shallow?? What an assumption to make. It's honestly so disappointing that people would jump to that conclusion just because makeup has to deal with your appearance. And obvs thinking of your appearance is shallow *rolls eyes*

      OH MY GOD THAT ARGUMENT IS SO TERRIBLE. Like oh yes I'm just a big deceiver which is why i wear makeup. It's painting makeup as being fake????

      Thank you lovely <33

  4. SLOW CLAP. As usual. Your discussions are on point.

    Story time. To be honest, I don't have much money (lol), and I do want
    to wear makeup and practice putting on eyeliner. But yeah, usually I
    don't wear makeup, but whenever I do, my roommate is always like "Why
    are you dressed up so fancy?" And I'm thinking, do I really need a
    reason to wear makeup? Can I just go with it on? I think that is what is
    holding me back sometimes (other than the getting up early and putting
    it on), because every time, I keep thinking to myself "When is it
    appropriate to wear this?" But in reality, IT IS EVERY TIME. I'm doing
    it for myself, not for other people.

    And I look fabulous. Well I always look fabulous. But more fabulous I
    suppose. I really like it as a creative outlet. Have you been to
    Sephora? THERE ARE SO MANY COLORS. *looks in wallet and sobs*

    <3 <3

    1. <33 thank you lovely ~~~~

      LOL me either. Yet I know I don't and still spend it and omg it's bad because I'm actually getting low nowwww. That struggle. And yeah, I hate it when people like judge you for being "too fancy." It's like really!? How is that even your concern? AND YASSS GIRL IT'S EVERYTIME. VAL GO PUT ON YOUR "FANCY" MAKEUP AND SLAY TODAY FOR ME OKAY

      LOLOLOL. Super fabulous Val <33 And yeah, some girls I know can do crazy cool and artistic makeup! AND YES VAL OF COURSE I'VE BEEN TO SEPHORA AND BASICALLY CRY EVERYTIME I DO

  5. Oh, how I have missed your discussions! As always, wonderful! So. Here's the thing: I don't wear makeup. I don't really know why, it just never interested me. And I'm pretty lazy, as a rule. But I don't care at ALL what someone else puts on her (or his!) face. Have at it! I mean, it has literally zero impact on my life. I will tell you a case where it did bother me, and that's when I had a college roommate who insisted on turning the big light on like, an hour before we had to leave for class, so she could put on her makeup, but that had less to do with makeup and more to do with "stop waking me up".

    The self-esteem argument is SO true. My self-esteem is complete shit. Like, off the charts low. I think one of the reasons I DON'T wear makeup is because it's like "why bother?" But like you said- that started LOOOONG before I knew anything about makeup. No one pops out of bed one morning when they're like, 16, having been fully self-confident their entire lives, and screams "My life is nothing without makeup!!!" and hightails it to Sephora. Nor does a self-confident person say "Oh my goodness, I like myself, I MUST dispose of this product that I enjoy using".

    People need to calm down with the stereotypes, basically.

    On the other side of the coin, I DO think that makeup can be used in a harmful way, just like so many other things in women's lives. My grandma always says shit like "you'd look so much better if you'd just put on some makeup". Um, no. That's not cool. And she's been saying that since I was like, 12. She also tells me that I should wear padded bras because I have no boobs, but she's got issues. She IS one of those women who thinks a woman's only role is to please men, and that's messed up. My point is, in THOSE cases, yeah, makeup is probably doing more harm than good. But that's the minority, obviously.

    Everyone just needs to stop with the random judgment. Women my mom's age were told that they "had to" wear makeup, and I think that because of that, there's this huge push for our generation (yes, I am including us in the same generation because Wikipedia does, okay?) to NOT wear makeup, which is just as ridiculous! No one should be told what they "should" or "shouldn't" wear, period. If you like it, have at it! If you don't, well, you can join me in the hobo parade of sweatpants ;)

    Because the point of feminism isn't to restrict our choices- it's to GIVE THEM TO US. And I wish more people would get that. Fabulous post, my dear! ♥

    1. <33 And I have missed your novel comments so much.
      I totally get why you don't wear makeup, if I'm honest it's more so the norm for myself because I'm just not a morning person. And hahah, I totally understand your roommate problems. I don't need any more bright light in the morning thank you very much. But yes, one person wearing makeup has literally no impact on your life so??? Why do people even both throwing a fuss over it?

      Exactly, like yes lowered self-esteem is undoubtedly a huge issue in the girls of society. But I just don't think makeup should be taking all (or really any if I'm being frank) the blame for that. It's all just a bunch of stereotypes that everybody is holding to be 100% true irregardless of the situation.

      Ughhhh your Grandma sounds honestly terrible if you don't mind me saying haha. I hate it when even family members have to go and comment on your appearance, it makes it so much more painful. I think she definitely buys into the makeup stereotypes about it being essential to beauty which isn't true at all. And ughhhh omg, having a family member with that "you gotta please men!" mindset would drive me insane. It's so archaic and demeaning honestly.

      YES seriously, I'm not going to lie and say males don't judge females because obviously they do but wow- females actually do a shit ton of judging towards other females. It's honestly sad to see all of these women tearing other women down in order to bring themselves up. AND YES GIRL I SHALL JOIN YOU IN THE HOBO PAIR OF SWEATPANTS & NOT BE JUDGED <33

      Exactly my point Shannon! You get me (: Thank you so much

  6. This was such a well-written post and I cannot agree more with you. I love make up. Especially lipsticks because I just love the colours and I think it's fun and I love to play with it, maybe express my mood through the colours. I also love to play around with eyeshadows and that's about it because I don't really think I could pull off contouring or highlighters but it make up in general was topic I was always interested in and at one point I feel insecured doing my make up because I'm student of english and slovak language and literature, many of my friends call me "intelectual" and also "bookworm" and so there is this stereotype that women who love to read should be into make up. Which is absolutely ridiculous if you ask me! I get angry when I hear people judge girl by the amount of make up she has on. Especially when they call her stupid and vain or something like that. It's so infuriating because that girl can be so much more inteligent that they are.
    I don't like the way make up is portrayed in our society as if it's something bad because if you wear it, you immediately insecure, stupid, vain, too feminine and then again, if you don't wear it, you are not feminine enough, men assume you don't care about the way you look and it's all so messed up when in reality most of us wear make up because it's fun! :D

    1. Thank you so much Simona <33 And omfg yay a fellow lipstick lover. And I definitely do the mood expression thing haha, with like brighter more vibrant colors or more darker sultrier ones. Ugh yes the timid bookworm stereotype that assumes we wouldn't work makeup. I hate that so much >.< And yeah people make so many assumptions without having any knowledge of anything

      I dislike makeup's perception in society too, lol clearly [; It's terrible to me that it's really become such a negative idea. I definitely agree with you (:

  7. I HAVE MISSED YOUR DISCUSSIONS LARISSA! It's completely crazy how all YA females seem to be naturally beautiful and look down at other girls wearing makeup or enjoying fashion or shopping. I mean can't we just enjoy whatever we enjoy without judging?

    1. <33 And I have missed you, ahah like always. And yes! It's super problematic and judgmental. It makes me wonder it is so necessary for the MC to be so hyped up to the extent other characters must be torn down. I definitely agree that we should be free to pursue whatever we wish and enjoy without feeling ashamed for it omfg

  8. I love makeup. It's so fun to play with, and I put it on differently depending on my mood. I do wear it everyday (or almost), but it has nothing to do with my self-esteem. It just makes me feel better. If I'm sick, I tend to wear more than when I'm healthy. Not to make myself "look better," but because it lifts my mood. Most of my friends don't wear make-up, and it's fine. I don't judge them, and they don't judge me.

    1. Isn't it so cool?! I do the same thing, wearing different colored lipsticks (I have a mild obsession) that changes depending on my mood. I usually put on at least lipstick and mascara if I'm doing anything important. And yes, that's exactly how it should be- you should be able to enjoy whatever without judgement.

  9. This post is so important and correct. It's so weird that in YA a lot of female characters shame other character for wearing make-up, and in real life a lot of girls (and I'm talking form personal experience, in my school and personal life) get shamed/talked about for NOT wearing make-up. Personally, I think, again, you should wear it if you want to. It's a choice, just like clothing or hair style or anything like that. Telling people not to wear it because it isn't feminist or whatever other bullshit they want to say is stupid. Telling women what they shouldn't/aren't allowed to wear isn't freeing.

    But at the same time, I'm worried about how make-up is effecting teens. I'm speaking as a girl of 17 myself at this, and when I go to school and see 12 year olds not just wearing mascara and lip gloss, but plucked eyebrows, full foundation, lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner... the whole shebang, it make me worry about why they're doing that. Its their choice, and I don't shame them in the slightest for making those decisions. Their body, their choice, all of that. But do we have to draw the line somewhere? Are are kids thinking that they have to wear make-up to be beautiful? Do they think they're beauty/image is more important then their schooling? I understand it's their choice, I respect their choice, I encourage them to make their own choices no matter what, but at the same time I worry about what those kids' idea of beauty and identity are, and wear make-up and our promotion of it stands in that.

    Great discussion, Larissa!

  10. Wonderful topic. My motto is do what you want as long as you aren't hurting anyone or anything (including yourself). I do see where some people are coming from because I wore high heels for years, ruining my feet and giving myself lower back pain because I thought that was what the guys I liked wanted to see. Thank goodness I got over that, but how are we as others looking on supposed to decipher why someone is wearing a certain shoe, hair color, or lipstick? If I find out someone is torturing themselves with restrictive clothing, or going broke, trying to impress someone else I give them a little pep talk about living life for themselves and doing what makes them feel good about themselves personally, and self-expression. Beyond that it is none of my business. I found it frustrating when I was young that people assumed I didn't like dresses and hair bows because I was a "tomboy" and liked playing in the dirt and climbing trees. I loved it all!