Menu Menu

Opinion – it’s time to stop makeup shaming

Makeup has been around for thousands of years and is truly multipurpose. Today, it’s used for multiple forms of expression. Does wearing makeup mean giving in to mainstream beauty standards, or is it a form of empowerment? Let’s discuss. 

The debate surrounding makeup is becoming as blown out of proportion as conversations about pubic hair.

In the same way that people judge each other based on their hair removal choices, or lack thereof, we’re also being judged for wearing either too much or not enough.

Makeup has been multipurpose since its conception. In ancient Egypt it was used to protect the eyes from sunlight and dust from the desert. In the Elizabethan era, it was used to achieve a pale complexion, which was a sign of wealth and nobility.

Today, makeup has transformed into something far more individual. Some use it to cover up skin problems, some use it as a method of artistic expression, and some don’t use it at all.

Either way, there’s no right way or wrong way to use – or not use – makeup.

Credit: Unsplash

Makeup shaming

Styling ourselves in this way is tied to individual identity and choice, and it shouldn’t be up to anyone else how you opt to present yourself.

In the same way that choosing to shave your armpits doesn’t make you a bad feminist, wearing makeup doesn’t mean that you’re letting down the sisterhood. They’ve got more important things to worry about. Like abortion rights.

In a video from NBC, they state: “Women conceal, we highlight, we contour, all out of habit. Without ever really asking why.” But this is arguably a far too simplistic view of what it means culturally and individually.

For some, makeup is a comfort. It can help you to feel more confident and empowered. While it’s true that we’re being sold products by brands that are effectively telling us that we’ll look better if we buy what they’re selling, makeup also acts as a form of protection and security for a lot of people. Two things that should not be denied to anyone.

There’s a ton of content on YouTube discussing the issue of makeup. Hundreds of confessional videos from women declaring that they no longer wear it for a variety of reasons, from shunning beauty standards to wanting to be more connected to their ‘natural’ identity.

For those of us that do choose to wear makeup, content like this can feel a little shaming. Not all of us are lucky enough to feel comfortable with our ‘natural’ selves.

Transgender people use makeup as a powerful tool to express their gender identity. Some people struggle with bad skin and simply don’t feel comfortable showing it in public.

Whatever the reason is for people choosing to wear makeup, it’s time to respect these decisions as individual ones and to stop shaming people for the choices they make.

It is no longer just a female issue

With queer culture and queer visibility becoming more and more mainstream, makeup is no longer just a female issue.

The art of drag has entered the realm of pop culture and we’re seeing transgender and cis-gendered men in campaigns for well-known makeup brands.

The beauty industry no doubt has a lot to answer for when it comes to promoting unrealistic female beauty standards. However, all genders are now embracing makeup as a form of expression.

The massive online beauty community further serves to suggest that younger generations think differently about makeup. Male makeup moguls Jeffree Star, Manny MUA, and James Charles all create content that focuses on the art of makeup. They play around with extreme looks and treat makeup as a fun hobby rather than something we all need to use to appear more attractive.

Freedom of choice

One’s value should not be determined by whether they wear makeup or not. It’s often assumed that people who wear makeup are not confident and are trying to hide behind it. Making judgements like these robs makeup of its value as a form of expression.

Makeup, and why people choose to wear it, is highly subjective.

As well as individual reasons for wearing makeup, culture also has a big influence. In certain countries, not wearing makeup is the standard, whereas in others it’s more unusual to rock up to a party bare-faced.

Sure, beauty standards suck. But seeing as Gen-Z is constantly labelled as the generation of individualism, the way that we’re using makeup is changing. Makeup is becoming less about conforming and more about showing the world who you are.

So whether you use makeup for comfort, fun, self-expression or any other reason, wearing it is your choice and you shouldn’t be judged for it.


Thred Newsletter!

Sign up to our planet-positive newsletter