On Making Up My Mind About Makeup


It’s funny how your tastes change with time. When I was younger, I’d turn the radio off when the Eagles’ “Hotel California” came on; today, I turn the radio up. My relationship with makeup has evolved in the same way. As a teenager who wasn’t allowed to use cosmetics, I’d pore over the colorful pages of teen magazines, dreaming of the day when I could dabble in my own makeup fantasies. However, in my twenties and the better part of my thirties, I decided I really liked my face “as-is” and, today except for the occasional special event or job interview, I eschew wearing makeup as a part of my daily regimen.

41eiadjpy8l-_sx329_bo1204203200_It’s not that there’s anything wrong with wearing makeup–it just isn’t for me. My rejection of the long-lashed, red-lipped version of womanhood is rooted in a growing satisfaction with my emerging self, a recognition that without adornment I am enough. But it’s never that simple, is it? Studies have shown that women who wear makeup often have higher salaries and receive better treatment in the workplace than those who don’t. As an ambitious woman who wants to be successful in her career, I often find myself sitting at a crossroads, vacillating between conforming to established sociocultural conventions and giving expectations of women the proverbial middle finger.

So I’m eager to read Autumn Whitefield-Madrano’s recently published Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives. According to the author’s website, the book “brings that same level of critical energy and rigorous thought to aspects of beauty that are more beneficial to women. It’s a thoughtful treatment of a topic often written off as frivolous—but that so many women know is anything but.” Color me intrigued.

What’s your approach to wearing makeup? Yea, nay or something somewhere in between?

6 thoughts on “On Making Up My Mind About Makeup

  1. In my opinion it’s a “yay”, but I think it’s every woman’s choice! I love makeup because it’s about experimenting with different products and looks. I don’t put makeup on or buy products than for anyone but myself (or to review on my blog sometimes). I think it’s every woman’s choice because some women are into it and other’s aren’t! Some ,like me, find it fun and a way of expression and almost relaxation, but for other’s it’s just a source of stress so in that case it would be a nay. All about balance ad doing what you want for you, in my humble opinion 🙂


    1. Hannah, I agree that it really should be about individual choice. But then there are society’s conventions and the fact that my choice to not wear makeup most of the time (referred to in the linked article as a “norm violation”) may negatively impact my earning power and professional achievements. It’s frustrating to say the least. Thanks for chiming in!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like to wear makeup because it’s fun! I like the feeling when I put it on and when I’m all done up or trying different looks. Although it’s fun, I really wish I’d feel the same way without it. I’m still trying to get comfortable with my face as-is.


    1. Wearing makeup can totally be fun—I agree with you there. And when I do wear it, I generally like how I look. I think my biggest challenge in the makeup/no makeup debate tends to be the expectation of it all. Because wearing makeup is almost a requirement for women hoping to be accepted and respected in the professional space, any variation from that norm is seen as something negative and that shouldn’t be the case.

      As for getting comfortable with your face as is, I think that something that comes with time and self-knowledge. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Sartorial Coquette

    this book sounds very interesting! i think makeup can be both positive as a tool for self-empowerment and negative as a tool for male social control. it depends how we use it! personally it’s something that makes me happy and i only do it for myself (even if all guys on earth suddenly disappeared). but it would be a different story if i had to do it simply to cater to the wishes of others…. so it depends on the person and their viewpoint! the study you mention is interesting: i think it just highlights the inherently unfair way people place value on looks (regardless of whether you are male or female). i’m sure it’s true that generally more attractive *people* (not just women wearing makeup who do therefore seem a bit more attractive) that are more successful – the halo effect. so we should focus on that and not the makeup part
    instagram: the_ch1ara


    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. You’re right: society’s values re: appearance–are unfair. Attractiveness is so subjective: who gets to decide what’s acceptable and what’s not? Your boss? Society? Where do talent, experience, and expertise come in as indicators of professional success? So many questions are bound up in what should simply be a personal decision.


Comments are closed.