“But you look beeeeaaaautiful, babes!” Facebook friends might say, as if I need telling this. Or at least they might if I had posted a no-makeup selfie – which I haven’t. Rather than being peer pressured by the numerous ‘nominations’ I’ve had over the past few weeks, I am sticking to my usual method of charity fundraising, which is running around Battersea Park in the mud and rain with over-competitive commuters, before getting a cold. It’s more fun.
Many people commenting on the no-makeup selfies (on Facebook and elsewhere) seem to think that it’s impossible for women to both own mascara and be happy with who they are. For me, wearing make-up isn’t any more of a statement about my self-esteem than wearing a jumper. They’re both a way of looking presentable, similar to brushing my hair or tying my shoelaces. Some days I want to wear make-up, some days I want to wear a hat. What I put on my head has got as much to do with anyone else as what I put on my face, and the phrase “it’s for charity so it must be good, right?” isn’t going to change that.
“But men don’t wear make-up,” you might point out. Well, maybe they’d look better if they did. Saying that, if the male backlash selfies (criteria: vast amounts of rouge, powder and lipstick) are anything to go by, most haven’t got a clue how to put it on. But, with time, I’m sure they could learn. Afterall it can’t be that hard, right? We girls can do it.
I don’t have a problem with anyone, male or female, trying to look good. It is possible to do other things as well (most people manage) and it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re self-obsessed or vain. And even if you are, when would it ever be OK for friends and strangers to tell you this? At the very least, it’s pretty rude.
There’s a misconception that all women think they look dreadful without make-up and that their insecurity levels go up and down depending upon how much foundation they’ve got on. In fact, a study by psychologist Nicolas Epley showed that women (and men) believe that they are better looking – and better at everything – than they really are.
When I was a fashion student desperate to do something more controversial than sew sequins onto Lycra, I decided not to wear-up make-up for a week. It was boring. I needed it to look the way I wanted in the same way I needed red shoes, zebra print leggings and jacket covered in tiny mirrors (oh, why did I get rid of that…). The heavily made-up 90s pop/punk band Shampoo also did same for a magazine article. It made me think: if you were properly punk, Shampoo, wouldn’t you have just told whoever suggested that to fuck off?
In particular, I object to guys – who don’t have to put up with half of the crap that women do – telling me that I shouldn’t wear make-up. It’s as patronising as them telling me that I should. No, we’re not crumbling on the inside because we decided to put on a bit of lipstick this morning, thank you very much. In fact we feel great. And we look great too – better than you, and that’s partly because we’re wearing make-up.
Dear men who hate cosmetics: Rather than putting all of your energies into telling women how they should behave and look, as men have since the dawn of time, maybe you should be campaigning for it to be more acceptable to wear make-up yourselves? Put on some mascara, eyeliner and foundation (do it properly, don’t make yourself look like a clown because you’re not ‘brave’ enough to apply concealer in a non-ironic way), post a picture on Facebook and I’ll let you know how good, bad or beeeaaaautiful I think you look. Because you need me to tell you, right?