Some of the men in my life have recently insisted I look better without make-up. Whilst it’s a flattering assertion, I’m not sure I believe them. It seems absurd that old acne scars, grey shadows lurking around my eyes and sparse, droopy lashes could be preferable to a made up face. I’m not talking statement lips, smoky eyes and Kardashian contouring, but a little foundation, artfully applied concealer and a few coats of mascara make a world of difference. I can understand why men find dramatic make-up off putting – it looks intimidating and untouchable. However, I don’t do my my face for men, I do it for me. I love the ritual of applying products and gently blending powders and creams. I find it soothing, in the same way that some people may find comfort in painting with water colours. On the surface, it seems unfeminist and reveals my peacock vanity, but it lifts my confidence and makes me feel better. And, most importantly, I don’t care.
We live in a cruel paradox where women are scrutinised and picked over for their looks, yet we’re also taught that vanity is a rotten personality flaw. During awards season the dresses and make-up of the actresses on the red carpet are as eagerly awaited as the announcement of the winners.
The intrinsic message of the beauty industry is that we’re not good enough, that somehow women in their most natural form are unacceptable. This is of course a negative, confidence eroding assertion and we’re bombarded with it all the time. I’m a self-confessed beauty junky, so I feel uncomfortable with this unavoidable truth. However, make-up makes me feel better and I like to play with new looks. So bugger it I say; if you prefer to go fresh faced, then do so. I like to wear make-up and I do it with impunity. I don’t believe that painting one’s face is an anti-feminist act, but bending to external pressure and doing things for the benefit of others is destructive. You’ll never please everyone, so you may as well please yourself.