It Isn't About the Makeup

Photo via ecouterre.com. For an interesting article on cosmetics labeling, i.e. "natural" and "organic", click here.

Photo via ecouterre.com. For an interesting article on cosmetics labeling, i.e. "natural" and "organic", click here.

 

Remember those no makeup selfies that were going around on Facebook? You got tagged and were expected to post your own no makeup selfie? I'm not going to get into how they started or anything like that. You can google it yourself and find all kinds of information and the like. What I found interesting was the various opinions on makeup vs. no makeup that came into my personal radar.

Some people have very strong ideas either for or against cosmetics. There are those who think that cosmetics and beauty products are feeding the insecurities and narcissism prevalent in our society, as well as contributing to the repression of women. (Men don't wear makeup, why should we? Some men do in fact wear makeup. Just not the way we do and it isn't advertised.) Then there are others who think makeup is a way to express oneself and enhance their features, or who wouldn't be caught without their makeup on, even at home. And there are people who feel neutral about the whole issue. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum and none of us are necessarily "right" or "wrong".

How I feel about makeup.

I wear makeup. I've been wearing it since I was fourteen. That was the rule in our house and I think it was a good one. My mom gave me some for my birthday and I felt so grown up and sophisticated using it. Over the years I've experimented with different colours and techniques, added in eyeliner, and kind of just had fun with it. There was a time when I relied too heavily on makeup to make me feel good about my appearance, but that's part of growing up.

The truth is, I like putting on makeup. I always have. When I was working and going out more, I wore it everyday. Now, as a stay at home mom, I only put it on when I'm going somewhere and that isn't very often. So when I do wear makeup it's kind of a treat. It's also time that I get to focus on myself for a few minutes. Rare when you have a toddler to keep an eye on.

Some may feel wearing makeup is a manifestation of insecurities. That's not necessarily true.

For as long as I can remember my mom has never left the house without her makeup on. Not that she wore very much and she definitely didn't take very long to put it on either. But it was part of her morning routine. Here's the thing. I never got the impression that she did it out of insecurity or low self esteem. Never once did she even hint at her value being in her appearance. In fact, I remember talking to her about it and she said she wore it out of respect for herself. That she felt she was worth the little bit of effort and she felt more polished in her appearance with some makeup on. Simple as that. I have tried to adopt the same attitude.

In the past while I have given more thought to my relationship with makeup and to my beauty routine. Especially since starting this blog. I want to make sure I'm not wearing makeup because I'm insecure or trying to reach an unattainable standard of beauty. It occurred to me that the question isn't about whether or not to wear makeup. The real question is "WHY?"

Ask Yourself These Questions

Why am I wearing makeup? Is it because I want to or because I feel like I should? Am I using it to enhance my features, or hide what I perceive as flaws? Do I still look like myself, or do I use it to alter my appearance? Am I wearing too much? Am I spending too much on my beauty products? Do I have realistic expectations of what the makeup will do? Am I comfortable seeing my face without makeup?

Again, I'm not going to assert that there's a right or wrong answer to these questions. It's a personal thing.

I'm happy to say that, most days, my why for wearing makeup is a totally healthy one. Yes, I use concealer for my under eye circles, but mainly because I don't want to look at them. They can be a painful reminder of how little sleep I've been getting and I don't want to dwell on that. Nor do I want people commenting on how tired I look. Thanks, I know. Also, I really like my eyes and enjoy accentuating them.

I know when I put on makeup that I won't have flawless skin like in the magazines...the effort it would take to get even close is more than I am willing to make. Nor do I want to wear the amount of makeup it would take to achieve that look. As long as I look put together and happy, that's what matters to me.

Why Cosmetics Don't Have To Be the Enemy

I believe cosmetics and beauty products themselves are neutral in the beauty game. They only become a problem if we are relying on them to feel good about ourselves, or think we need them to achieve the beauty "ideal" we see in the advertisements. Remember, those ads are altered and unrealistic.

And, yes. I have come to like my face even without makeup. Most of the time. This wasn't always the case and I'm still not comfortable having my picture taken without makeup. I never said I was totally confident in my appearance. It's a process that I'm in and it has many ups and downs. That's how it goes in life. You can relate, right? Just know, that you may never see no makeup selfies from me. Or any selfies actually. That's another topic altogether.

Be Aware

It comes down to awareness. Awareness about ourselves. What makes us feel good about ourselves and what makes us feel crummy. So take a look at your beauty routine and ask yourself, "What part of my routine is healthy and reinforces my self-confidence?" and "What is harmful and tearing down my self-confidence?" Only you can answer those questions. (For another take on this discussion read this post from Beauty Redefined)

Taking time for ourselves can be so good for our self esteem as long as it's positive and true to who we are. Don't wear makeup because you feel like you should or because you think it will make you beautiful. You are already beautiful without it. Wear it because you want to. And vice versa. Don't let anyone shame you for wearing or not wearing makeup and be careful not to criticize anyone else for their choices.

As long as we have a healthy attitude towards the products we use and recognize that they themselves don't make us beautiful...I think we're fine. In the end it doesn't matter whether you choose to wear makeup or not. What matters is the reason you make that choice and that you're happy with your decision.

Posted on June 2, 2014 .