Makeup Makes Me A Bad Feminist?
I stopped wearing makeup in graduate school.
I’m not alone. Of my professors mentioned that women grad students almost always stopped wearing makeup.
I suppose that a made-up face makes women feel less serious. And less feminist.
After getting a PhD in sociology I started teaching women’s studies — the feminist arm of academia.
And not long after, I started wearing makeup — some of the time. I like to mix it up.
Why did I start again?
The textbook I use asks whether it’s okay for feminists to wear makeup. My students usually say, “No.” Well, they used to say “no” until I started wearing it again. (They sometimes still stick with “no.”)
Apparently they forgot about cultural feminism. Cultural feminists celebrate things that have historically been associated with women and femininity.
You needn’t be a cultural type of feminist to wear makeup, and not all cultural feminists wear it. But they point out that we tend to devalue things that are associated with women and femininity. Makeup has been associated with women and femininity, so it must be bad, silly, trivial, vain? Of course not!
Actually, makeup can be self-expressive. It can celebrate femininity. It can be fun.
On the other hand, people can be manipulated by the market into believing that they aren’t good enough without it. Or beauty ideals may make them feel superior, or inferior. And product testing may harm animals. Not so good.
The problem isn’t makeup. What matters is whether it is being used for good or ill.