Society studies people as if we are all ants under a magnifying glass. Is she skinny enough? Is her hair straight? Is he…?? She doesn’t have much of a butt, does she? He’s so short. Her skin is so dark. She looks masculine. Why don’t you smile? What is she wearing?? She looks tired. He is getting old.
We have all heard it before.
We live in a world where beauty is on a pedestal and it is a pain to reach it.
But, in the hopes to gain admiration and confidence we wear makeup. Humans as a race has been using makeup since Ancient Times. Grecian women used waxes and clay as skin care products. (Just did a Yes to! mud mask tonight, myself). Throughout history, how a person looked showed his or her wealth. Which makes me think of the makeup artists on YouTube and Instagram, who have the tools to look flawless, and have acquired the wealth of followers as well.
I conducted an experiment to see how makeup and society affects both men and women. I asked them all a series of questions and the answers shared below are the highlight (not highlighter) reel of responses.
Allison or “Allie” is a Mass Communications student who started to wear makeup when she began middle school, around the age of 12. Just like how a musician collects records or a botanist has samples of flattened roses, Allie has her palettes. They are stacked neatly in a box; Macs, Morphe’s and Jaclyn’s, a filing system of pigments.
I asked Allie how it felt when she wore makeup. “It’s hard to explain. I feel free. I have the power to create any look and I can wear it whenever I want and know that I have the power to choose between something dramatic or natural. It’s definitely a confidence booster, but it is also a fun way to be creative,” she said.
Today there are Instagram pages, Tumblr posts, and YouTube channels that are dedicated to showing viewers how to do an evening to a “no makeup” look. It truly is an art form. Every artist has their own style of how they express themselves, like how Allie explained earlier. That red eyeshadow can yes, make your eyes pop, but also; create a new lipstick shade, be used as blush and so on. There is no actual conventional use for makeup because how people use it, there are no limits.
Matt is an actor who has been using makeup since the age of eight years old. He has also dabbled in a little bit of drag in the past. In theater, makeup is used not only to differentiate between characters’ ages but to emphasize features, so they can be seen by the audience. This has been a practice done for hundreds of years. The thespians who performed Shakespeare’s plays in the Globe had to wear makeup as well. Especially if the said actor was playing a woman.
I asked Matt the same question, what was it like when you first wore makeup?
“The first time I wore makeup I was humiliated. I was a child, so I perceived makeup as being only for women; something that boys just do not do. Now I really appreciate opportunities where I must wear makeup. I think it makes me look better and it gives me confidence,” he said.
In 2016, James Charles was the first to be a “Cover Boy.” Before this, it was just ladies who were the represented CoverGirl. That is to paint the picture that makeup and skin care is marketed towards women. Even though there are men who perform in drag shows or shows and use some products, makeup is something we immediately associate with women. For a boy at the age of eight years old to recognize that trait, that only women wear makeup says a lot about how quickly we are introduced to stigma and association of genders.
I introduced my next question to the next victims — people, I mean people; how do you feel without makeup?
Sidney, a college student responded with, “I feel pretty confident without makeup! I think choosing not to depend on makeup for an everyday look has really shaped how I view myself. My mother was also very helpful and would always tell me that ‘makeup was never meant to cover up just to enhance’ and if you were having a bad day, sometimes a little mascara would fix it and sometimes you just have to learn to love yourself.” I think that is exceptional advice. For both men and women. To not only embrace yourself but also there is no shame in boosting your confidence a bit. Sidney has been aware of the world of cosmetics since she was twelve years old.
Habtamu, is a theater student who is used to wearing some war paint. He started wearing cosmetics when he was a sophomore in college (around nineteen years old). Habtamu recently portrayed a vivacious drag queen in a production and had to go through for about two hours to get into character. He had to sit while getting his makeup done. Which included waiting for the glue on his eyebrows to dry and avoid any sort of movement while the artist was doing his eyes. “It was basically four hours of discomfort from start to finish … but I enjoyed the opportunity to do something so different and new,” he says. When asked, how do you feel without makeup? Habtamu’s response was, “I like the way I look without all the makeup. Yes, it’s nice to have the flawless skin and all the but that’s not human. I have razor bumps, cuts and “imperfections.” They are mine and I want them there. I’m comfortable in my own skin. Plus, I could barely drink water without worrying that it would ruin my makeup.”
I know that we have all been there before, amirite?
*clicks pen to proceed*
Do you agree with the societal norms of beauty that we have today?
Alyshia, an actress and thinker responded with, “No, I feel like there is too much pressure to fall into one type of look.” Cameras are everywhere, and we are each other’s paparazzi. (Example, say if you do a dumb dare, or yell something, that clip will be on a ten second loop on someone’s Snapchat). Because cameras are such a present element in the year 2018, people want to look good for their buzzing and bubbling public they will never meet. There are so many posts going around on the internet comparing how 90’s kids looked as thirteen-year old’s and how present 13-year old’s look now. The latter all look like models who just left a runway rehearsal. The reason they look so flawless is most likely because there is so much pressure to look good. Which, at their fragile stage, adds more pressure and fuel to their hormones. They have become hyper focused on their looks because they are well aware that society is waiting for a slip up.
Kenny, a drag queen, and actor has grown up with makeup. He started to use cosmetics since he was nineteen years old. When asked the question, he responded with, “In the immortal words of Motormouth Maybelle, ‘Big is back and as for black it’s beautiful!’ Growing up, I was inundated with what beauty should be. I’ve grown to accept the majesty that is me. Not that I’m egotistical, I’ve just been on a new path of self-love and self-care.” He and Motor Mouth said it right here and now, folks!
If you do not know who Motor Mouth Maybelle is, we need a serious talk. Then we need to watch Hairspray.
And now, the grand finale to this experiment.
We are all at computers or phones, the only drumroll I am going to get are drum emojis, who am I kidding?
In a world that is so focused on beauty, why is makeup so expensive?
Even if you get cheap products like E.L.F., for example, the money racks up. If you even get one palette, it breaks the bank. (It still hurts).
Kathy, a teacher cut to the chase, “Company’s want the green,” she said. It is the perfect set up. People want to become “flawless”, the company has your “bronzed golden ticket” palette, and you, eating out the palm of their hands. Kathy knows this all to well. She has been used to the business of makeup since she was twelve years old. It’s not a secret and it is Maybelline. Not maybe.
Brian, who is also a teacher, said, “I think makeup is ridiculously overpriced. However, as someone who was an art major in school I understand that most art supplies are ridiculously overpriced.” Brian also sees makeup as an art form, a source to express ourselves. Brian has recently used makeup. He started using eyeliner with a year or a year and a half ago and has enjoyed it since.
The world has beautiful sites. That includes human beings. We come in different pigments. Ebony, ivory, bronze, fair, caramel, and so on. We have stained glass windows to the soul; blue, green, hazel, gold, gray, brown. We are geniuses in our own fields. We are dreamers with different sets of tools; from a sledgehammer, to a mascara wand. We are the Palette of Humanity.
As a closing remark, I asked the interviewees how they would describe beauty in one word.
Attainable, Boundless, Confidence, Glowing, Effortless, Natural, Relative, Subjective.
What is your word?