Episode Summary

Welcome to Episode 12, where Lydia and I will debunk the rule: "Women should wear makeup." This was a fascinating rule to research and uncover, since it has so many personal, societal, and historical implications. In our current age, it's considered a rebellious act to not wear makeup. A feminist choice, if you will. But in the 1920s, when the "ideal woman" was supposed to be chaste and virginal, it was rebellious to wear lipstick and rouge. It's fascinating how much context informs the argument! Tune in to learn more about that, as well as some reasons why this rule exists and why you might consider breaking it!

Reading + Resources:

Why I Don't Wear Makeup
by Aabye-Gayle Francis-Favilla 

  • While I do feel more polished wearing some cosmetic covering, I also see the potential within myself of not being able to face the world with my bare face. I don’t want to become dependent on makeup. I don’t ever want to feel naked or unattractive without it.
  • The possibility of that outcome (becoming dependent on cosmetics or needing it to maintain my self confidence) is why I think that makeup can be a tool of misogyny. When it is not used from a perspective of self-love, makeup can breed bouts of self-hatred in women — or at least dissatisfaction.
  • For as much confidence as makeup gives me when I’m wearing it, it takes a proportional amount away when it comes off.
  • I worry that our culture is subtly (and not so subtly) waging war against the body — a result of an unhealthy obsession with youth and perfection. We tell women that they’re beautiful and that they should love themselves. We tell little girls to have self-confidence and that they can be anything they want to be. But then, and often with the same breath, we suggest they can be beautiful (or confident) only when they are not quite themselves. 
  • I want to avoid falling prey to a self-erasing mentality when I look at myself in the mirror.
  • Every shape, size, and shade of humanity has aesthetic value. My hope is that all people will learn to love their appearance and see that they are beautiful — and that wearing makeup (or dyeing one’s hair) won’t be compulsory, but something each person feels free to choose or refuse.

12 Things Women Who Don't Wear Makeup Are Seriously Sick of Hearing So Seriously Stop Trying to Bully Us Into a Little Blush
by Emily Maas

  • I know people wear makeup for all sorts of reasons (not just to cover up so-called flaws), but when I look in the mirror, I generally like what I see. So why is the fact that I don't wear makeup such a problem?
  • 1. "BUT YOU WOULD LOOK SO CUTE WITH A LITTLE *INSERT MAKEUP ITEM HERE*!" - totally insulting. Do I not look cute now?
  • It's not that I don't take care of myself too, just not in that way.

I'm Not Supposed To Admit This, But I Don’t Wear Makeup ‘For Myself’
by Alexa LaFata

  • I feel like whenever a modern women talks about makeup, she INSISTS that she doesn’t wear it because she’s insecure. She wears it for HER. For ART. To EXPRESS HERSELF. The cultural conversation surrounding makeup is all about how wearing makeup is a form of “female empowerment,” to make us feel fierce and independent and in control of our appearance, and has nothing to do with other people. Especially MEN.
  • What I’m trying to say is, I wear makeup to improve things about my face I’m insecure about. I’m not ashamed to admit this, and neither should you.
  • I wear makeup because every other girl wears makeup because we live in a patriarchal culture that has decided that women — not men! — need to cover up their dark circles and pimples to look presentable. If I didn’t wear makeup, I would probably look objectively sh*ttier than everyone else. 
  • we all sort of wear makeup for men because they control the standard of beauty. We live in a world in which nearly every aspect of popular culture is catered to satisfy a heterosexual male gaze. Somewhere along the way, men must have determined that, in addition to long legs and big boobs and a small waist, what would satisfy their gaze was a blemish-free woman with full lashes, arched eyebrows and pouty pink lips.
  • I’m as much of a feminist as any other feminist, but I’m tired of reading about how empowered women feel when they wear makeup. 
  • I’m not trying to take away a woman’s right to feel empowered when she wears makeup, but she feels empowered by it in a society where the cards are stacked against women who don’t wear makeup. 
  • I mean, every girl on earth has been asked if she’s “tired” or “feels sick” on a day she chooses to go without makeup.

by Chloe Johnson 

  • 3. YOU AREN’T NECESSARILY EMBRACING YOUR TRUE SELF - you're not embracing your natural beauty, you're embracing makeup

Why Makeup is a Waste of My Time
by Emily Heist Moss

  • What I can’t understand is the compulsory component of cosmetics, the suggestion that a woman is incomplete without her face “done,” that leaving the house mask-less is some sort of personal failure.
  • And “professionalism,” for woman anyway, often implies makeup. Why is adding paint to your face to exaggerate your features part and parcel of “professional” expectations of women?
  • if your time in front of the mirror and dollars at the drug store are driven by fear that what you were born with is not enough, that if only your lashes were longer or your lips were pinker people would be better to you and good things would happen, that to be loved or respected or admired you need more layers and more colors, well, to hell with that. You're way too cool for that.
  • Women spend thousands of dollars on makeup (and that’s not even counting plastic surgery). We spend hours of our weeks putting it on, fixing it, and taking it off.With that time we could be planning how to ask for a raise, spending time with our friends and family, reading a book, catching up on much-needed sleep, making a real breakfast, or taking a walk.

100 Women 2015: Is make-up a feminist issue?
by Harriet Hall

  • a key facet of second wave feminism between the 1960s and 1980s was the suggestion women should discard any adornment, believing it served only to subjugate them in the eyes of men.
  • And in 1991, writing in The Beauty Myth, author Naomi Wolf argued just at the moment women freed themselves from the shackles of domesticity and gained political and social advancements, the pressures to conform to unattainable standards of beauty increased through the subliminal messages of advertising.
  • In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft argued in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, beauty is presented as a "woman's sceptre" but is, in reality, only gilding the cage of womanhood.
  • Simone de Beauvoir wrote in The Second Sex in 1949 "when [a woman] has once accepted her vocation as sexual object, she enjoys adorning herself".
  • It's not just patriarchal subjugation - at least not historically: archaeological evidence from Ancient Egypt - 6,000 years ago - shows both genders wore kohl eyeliner.
  • In Ancient China and Japan, around 3000 BC, men and women stained their nails and up until the French Revolution in 1789 men in Europe routinely wore wigs, powdered their faces, and drew on beauty spots.
  • In the 1920s, the flappers rebelled against the idea of demure femininity.After asserting themselves during the war, they promoted their newfound independence and sexual yearning by brazenly applying rouge and lipstick in public.
  • And although second wave feminism dismissed makeup as objectification by the male gaze, the so-called lipstick-feminism of third wave feminism in the 1980s and 1990s rejected this. The movement held that psychological and social empowerment could be gained through cosmetics - allowing women to unashamedly embrace their sexuality.