“So is that your Halloween costume? You just wear a lot of makeup and call it a costume?” A boy asks of my Marina & the Diamonds getup. In an effort to look like the popstar Marina Diamandis, I am wearing bright red lipstick and a full set of false lashes accompanied by her trademark: a black heart on my cheek.
My love of makeup goes beyond Halloween costumes. When I was a little girl, I loved sneaking into my parents’ bathroom and playing with my mother’s cosmetics. In middle school, I experimented with awful blue eyeshadow and poorly applied eyeliner. As I grew older, I improved my skills and actually became kind of good at it. Now, I have amassed quite the collection of cosmetics and love doing my friends’ and family’s makeup for special occasions.
Throughout history, humans have loved to adorn and modify their appearances, not just in our Western society, but in places across the globe. Tattoos, piercing, makeup, and other body modification practices have been commonplace in many cultures for thousands of years. Cultures have used makeup not only to enhance their features, but for religious reasons, or to look powerful and intimidating. Mursi women in Ethiopia adorn their faces with face markings and a decorated lip plate. Women in India practice mehndi by decorating their hands with intricate designs made with paste from henna leaves. And makeup is not only limited to women – Wodabbe men in Niger wear extravagant face paint and are judged by their female counterparts in a beauty contest called Gerewol.
There is a misconception that women only wear makeup to look attractive for men. Women who wear makeup are often seen as insecure. The One Direction lyrics, “Don’t need makeup / To cover up / Being the way that you are is enough” come to mind. 1D doesn’t seem to realize that it’s not about needing makeup. You aren’t automatically insecure if you like to wear makeup, and you shouldn’t feel guilt for wanting to wear makeup either.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not a bad feminist for wearing makeup. And neither is anyone else. In fact, criticizing women (or men) who wear makeup is pretty anti-feminist. Denouncing typically feminine things like makeup and fashion asserts the idea that feminine things are lesser. Feminine things like makeup or shopping are considered frivolous, yet you don’t see stereotypical masculine things being referred to as such.
Whether you wear makeup or not is personal, not political. Makeup is art. Makeup is a medium in which I can not only channel my creativity, but find empowerment as well. Red lipstick isn’t complacent; it’s powerful. Frankly, makeup makes me happy. So I will continue to browse the aisles at Sephora. I will continue to spend hours watching makeup tutorials on Youtube. But I will also continue to go out in public barefaced if I feel like it.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to enhance your features. And there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to wear a stitch of makeup either. Whether you prefer no makeup, minimal makeup, or going full out glam, the power lies in your choice.
Megan is a freshman Writing, Literature & Publishing major from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. She enjoys red lipstick, kombucha, cats, and driving her Volkswagen Beetle named Sasha. She also pretends she's Marina & the Diamonds in her spare time. You can contact Megan on her Twitter or Facebook.