Age 12 was an important year for me. I was in the 6th grade, was learning how to navigate middle school, and suddenly boys didn’t have cooties anymore. This was also the year I also had my first acne breakout. It was not pretty; it was red and everywhere. So naturally, I wanted to cover it up with anything that I could find. I remember going through my mom’s makeup bag and pulling out her Mac Studio Fix Powder that was about 3 shades too light and applying it so badly that I knew if I really wanted to cover up this acne, I was going to need to teach myself how to properly apply this stuff. From there my love for makeup was born.
Age 12 was also the first time I heard the word feminist. When I first hear it I was given a very basic definition, equality of the sexes. The idea of feminism at that age made complete sense. Who wouldn’t want both men and women to have the same equal rights? The idea of equality just made perfect sense to me.
As the years went on my love for makeup grew but my understanding of feminism stayed at a steady level. I didn’t go out and do further research or try to gain a better understanding of the concept because I thought it stopped at equality of the sexes. But I didn’t apply this same logic to makeup. Every day I would watch Youtube videos and read blogs about the latest makeup trends and be learning new techniques in the makeup world. It seemed like a never-ending area of learning and improving.
It wasn’t until I was about 16 years old when I decided to revisit feminism and educate myself further. When I went on a quick google search of just the word “feminism,” I was hit with mostly anti-men rhetoric that often surrounds the conversation of feminism. According to most of the articles I read, identifying as a feminist meant that I was a man-hating lesbian who never shaved, never wore any feminine clothing, was yelling and angry all the time, and never wore any makeup. I was baffled by what was being said. There were so many things wrong with what I was reading, I was none of those things described. I didn’t hate men, I wasn’t a lesbian, I shaved my legs, wore dresses, wasn’t yelling and angry all the time. But the biggest thing that stuck out for me was never wearing makeup. Makeup was the way I did and still do define myself. It can dictate how I am feeling that day, whether I want to do a winged liner with a red lip and feel bold or wear a smoky eye and feel sexy. It was the first thing I told people about myself, I love makeup. But the second thing I told people was that I was a feminist. And according to my new research, loving makeup and being a feminist wasn’t an option. It was either one or the other.
At first, I didn’t understand this argument at all. How did putting on makeup influence me being a feminist? My love for makeup started from trying to hide an insecurity, but even after having clear skin I still wear makeup. It turned into a way that I express myself to the world. The more research I did the more I realized that according to some, makeup could never be just for a woman to enjoy for herself. It was for men. The reason I spent 20 minutes blending out my eyeshadow is for a man, to impress a man, or to look more beautiful for a man. All of my actions boil down to pleasing men. When in reality, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Makeup wasn’t and has never been a way to feel more confident for a man. It was to feel more confident for me. But being a feminist to some automatically meant that I was man-hating, and if I hate men, why would I wear makeup? Because these same people believe that makeup is just to please a man. It all came full circle. The two could not coexist. One means you love men and the other means that you hate them. According to these people, I was simply contradicting myself.
To answer the question, does loving makeup make me a bad feminist? The answer is no, it doesn’t. I don’t wear makeup to please a man, I wear it for me. I wear it to have fun and to express myself. Feminism, for me now, is the key way to battle the patriarchy. To overturn the centuries of oppression of people who have not had power. That includes pretty much everyone outside of the white man. So, what if I want to have a sparkly gold eyelid, how does that stop me from fighting against the patriarchy? It doesn’t.