I’ve been thinking more about makeup a LOT lately, especially since writing my post about makeup shaming. Writing that post also is part of what moved me to start a separate blog category for these deeper, more spiritual issues, because it seems I have quite a lot to say about them! Hence Spiritual Skincare Sundays.
Makeup itself seems like something so simple and such a surface issue–but, like skincare, I believe makeup represents something much deeper. I’m not going to get into the whole wear makeup/don’t wear makeup debate here–so if you’re a proud member of Team No Makeup, don’t worry, I’m not trying to convert you 🙂 Instead, I wanted to explore reasons why some people do choose to wear makeup, and why makeup shaming can be even more hurtful to them because of those reasons.
Makeup for art
Many people consider makeup a form of artistic expression. Their clean face, a blank canvas; their brushes and applicators, paint brush; and the actual makeup itself, paint. These people have a great love for the process of choosing their colors, and put a lot of thought into each stroke of the brush. Whether they’re aware of it or not, close attention is paid to visual composition. There is often a single focal point-the eyes or the mouth, and the rest of the face, cheeks, forehead, chin, etc. makes up the background. There’s also close attention paid to precision and symmetry–eye makeup and brows should match on both sides, both sides of the face should have the same intensity of color applied, and lips–whether they’re symmetrical in reality or not, are often made symmetrical with lip pencils and color.
Whether these people consider themselves makeup artists, or practice makeup artistry by trade isn’t what’s important–what’s important is that they’re using makeup as a way to express their own innate creativity. This expression might not even be part of conscious thought, but it’s necessary. I believe that creativity is something every person possesses, because we are all physical embodiments of creation itself. The same force or energy that created us always remains part of us, and unless we find ways–consciously or not–to express it outwardly, I believe it can make us sick. Creativity is such a powerful energy, that when repressed, it has the capacity to magnify other emotions and come out in unpredictable and often negative ways.
When a person who expresses their creativity on a regular basis through the focused, artistic, and precise application of makeup, their finished look is their painting–their masterpiece. And just like any other artist, when their art is misunderstood or criticized, it hurts. In terms of makeup shaming, would you ever criticize or shame an artist for being an artist? Would you ever tell them they’re wrong for expressing or wanting to share their art? If you’ve ever been to art or design school (and I have–I have a degree in architecture), you know how crappy it feels to have work that you’ve spent a lot of time and effort creating judged, questioned, and criticized by people who just don’t “get” it. You know how it feels to have to defend your own creation. It’s not fun, and it can hurt.
Makeup for cover
Other times, the decision to wear makeup has nothing to do with art. It comes from the want—or need–to cover something up. Whether it’s acne, uneven pigmentation or texture, scarring, or another reason having to do with one’s physical features, many people wear makeup to make themselves look and feel what society has defined as normal. They apply layers of concealers, foundations, and powders before they even feel they have what could be considered a blank canvas. And when they see that canvas, they still see shadows of what they’re trying to cover–feelings of imperfection, inadequacy, wrongness, incompleteness, ugliness, and self-loathing. And no matter what they apply on top of that cover, what’s underneath doesn’t go away–it simply gets smoothed out or changed enough for the time being, so that person feels good enough to face the world that day.
And then that person gets asked by someone, “Is there something going on today? What’s with all the makeup?” Or she sees a seemingly innocent-looking article about makeup application on Facebook, starts scrolling through the comments, and sees things like:
“People who wear makeup are fake.”
“People with bad skin who wear makeup make it look even worse.”
“People should be focusing on proper skincare so they don’t need to wear makeup.”
And then her cover is blown. Not to anyone else in particular–but to her. She’s reminded again of all the things she’s worked so hard to cover, and now whether anyone’s actually directing comments to her or not, she constantly feels like they are. And all she wants to do is hide. Or cry. Or both.
Both reasons for wearing makeup are personal to me.
I began wearing makeup for cover, and then after being criticized for wearing it “wrong” or looking like I was wearing a mask, I decided to actually study it as an art. I didn’t attend any makeup school–my cousin’s old school Victoria Jackson videos, department store makeup counters, and Kevyn Aucoin, Bobbi Brown, and Francois Nars’ books* became my school. I practiced on myself, I practiced on my friends, and then I practiced with the different brands I worked with later on. Through that observation, study, and practice, I developed a deep love for makeup as an art.
So when I see or hear makeup shaming comments, whether generalized, directed at others, or even directed at me (and there are plenty of people who tell me I wear too much makeup), I’m affected both from the perspective of wanting to cover up and as an artist.
Of course there are plenty of people who wear makeup for other reasons–and we’ll get into those in future posts. But today I want to leave you with this thought:
I believe makeup is, and should be respected as a spiritual practice, whether someone is applying for art or for cover.
What do you think?
If you wear makeup, what are your reasons for wearing it? How do you feel when you experience or observe makeup shaming? If you don’t wear makeup, what do you think about these ideas? Feel free to comment below, or come on over to our private Spiritual Skincare Sundays discussion group on Facebook and share there.
**Image 3 by Orin Zebest.