The Rules of Make Up

I don’t really want to get negative as there’s so much negativity on the internet and I wanted Wicked North to be a positive place…but sometimes you just have to speak out.

One of the things that’s massively annoying me at the moment are the so-called “rules” of make up. You know the sort – women over a certain age shouldn’t wear coloured eye shadows, or you shouldn’t wear heavy make up during the day, and you shouldn’t wear a bold lip with strong eyes, etc. etc.

For the love of all that is holy, WHY?

I’ve blogged before about the personal choice that is make up, but I keep seeing articles online about how to wear make up is to subject yourself to patriarchal ideology, or it’s fake, or it’s somehow all a massive con designed to keep women in their place, or whatever.

The authors always seem to miss the point that at its heart, make up should be personal. If a 50 year old wants to wear glittery eye shadow with fake lashes then that’s entirely up to her. If someone wants to draw on contouring so thick they look like the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz then that’s their business.

Apparently, I shouldn’t wear make up like this during the day;

It’s too colourful, and ‘inappropriate’. According to the style gurus, I should be wearing make up more like this;

I’m still not sure why. I do wonder if it explains the proliferation of so-called ‘nude’ palettes available from the make up counters. Why does it matter to someone what another person has put on their face? Is it really going to spoil your entire day if you’re in a shop and the person serving you is wearing red eye shadow? Would you rather deal with someone who’s helpful and polite, but has thicker eyeliner than Amy Winehouse, or someone who looks presentable but makes you feel an inch tall with the way that they speak to you?

embrace the gothI suppose I’m feeling a bit sore about things because I got called “strange” by someone on the train yesterday. Bearing in mind I was wearing this outfit, and had grey smoky eyes (using the Urban Decay Naked Smoky palette) and darkish lips (using Urban Decay’s Matte 1993 lipstick), I couldn’t decide if her issue with me was how I looked, or the fact I was watching a science documentary on iPlayer on my tablet – heaven forbid that a girl should show an interest in a ‘masculine’ subject like biology.

Either way, I think I was quite upset that a total stranger would prejudge me based on superficialities. I know humans are trained to do so and in some ways can’t help it, and I suppose that’s why we have rules around ‘professional appearances’, but I’m sick of these rules bleeding into something which should be intensely personal as a means of self expression. Some people have said I should expect such comments if I’m going to dress like that, but why put the fault onto me? That’s like saying women ‘deserve’ to have horrible things happen to them if they dress a certain way.

So from now on I’m going to stop doing my make up the way other people tell me I should do it, and I’m just going to do it my own way, based on how I feel at the time. No one lives forever and I don’t want to spend my time trying to placate other people over something as trivial as mascara!

Do you feel the pressure to conform, or do you feel free to express yourself through your make up?


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