Confession: I love all things glamorous.
I always have. I loved dressing up in fancy clothes and wearing lip gloss as a child. I got my first bottle of nail polish when I was 7 years old; it was a shiny pink color, and a cherished gift. During my teens, I learned how to do makeup for my color guard team and slowly started doing it for myself. Today, at twenty-three years old, I do a full face of makeup every day and love being bold in my personal style.
Style and glamor have always been very important to me, and an essential part of expressing my femininity and womanhood. Because they’re so important to me, it’s also easy for me to see how society uses them against women.
As a woman who loves glamor, people have told me that I try too hard to impress others or that makeup is a way for me to hide my insecurities. People I don’t even know have commented on my fresh-faced Instagram photos to share how much prettier my natural face is. The reality is that I love makeup, not just the way it looks, but also the process of creation. I appreciate the time I spend with myself, investing in a personal art form to express my story.
On the flipside, I know women who are put off by glamor get just as much pushback for equally poor reasons. Women who don’t wear makeup are frequently shamed for not trying hard enough or for not putting effort into anything because they choose not to wear makeup. For some reason (*cough* the patriarchy *cough*), people assume that a woman who isn’t wearing makeup is a woman who doesn’t care. Some people even think women need makeup to be beautiful. The truth is some women don’t wear makeup just because they don’t like to.
It’s a classic Catch 22. We see it all the time as women, or in any marginalized group, really. The world refuses to just let us peacefully live. Must every miniscule or mundane point in our lives be scrutinized?
The only way to combat this, of course, is to just exist.
The beginning of freedom lies in knowing the truth. So know this: how and when and if you choose to wear makeup is a choice that belongs to you. The choice that you make isn’t wrong; it’s only wrong if it makes you unhappy. Not everyone will understand, and not everyone needs to. This truth remains valid no matter who accepts or denies it, and embracing this truth will set you free.
I once had a roommate that needed to learn this lesson. She had been living with me for about 2 months and watched me apply makeup every morning. Even if I didn’t have time to do it in the morning, I’d put it on later in the day. One day she expressed that she’d always been interested in trying makeup but never had. “Why?” I asked.
“Because I like my normal face,” she said, “and I always thought I’d have to wear makeup every day of my life, or I could never wear makeup at all.”
What a wild thing for society to set an expectation about! She didn’t know that this choice was not only hers, but hers to make every day. It’s not an all or nothing decision.
I explained that I wore makeup every day because I loved it, but she could wear makeup as often or as little as she desired. I started teaching her how to do some basics. She asked questions and soon got creative. In fact, she began doing her makeup with me some days. Other times, she preferred a fresh face. And she was beautiful absolutely every day, because she was presenting herself wearing what made her happy.
People who know me know I love glamor. I like to get ready every day, and spend a lot of time on just makeup. Some people prefer getting ready as quickly as possible, and there are others who lie somewhere in between. Glamor-lovers are frequently told that we’re being misleading by wearing makeup, but that’s not true. I’m not trying to pretend to be anything. I’m just doing something I love. When people I know keep their routine simple, even just for a day, they confess, “You would be so disappointed in me.”
My response stays the same: “no I wouldn’t.”
In fact, I’m proud whenever someone makes a choice that brings them closer to true happiness. Makeup shouldn’t be about passing judgment. It’s about expressing joy.
If you’re looking for permission to present yourself as you choose, here it is. Your choice to wear makeup or otherwise isn’t wrong. Your own reflection should bring you joy. Shed the expectations of others, and show the world what it means to just exist.
Written by: Elizabeth Day