It's no surprise that most of us think we look better with makeup on. Some women feel their best when they wear only a little bit; some like the primer, the liquid, the powder, the blush, the liner, the lipstick, the gloss, the mascara, the works. Does that make one woman more superior than the other? No. The only thing it does mean for sure is that the one who wears more makeup spends more on makeup. That stuff is expensive.
The other reality is whatever people say to a woman about her makeup is guaranteed to make her feel like crap. Even if she thinks she just applied the best cat eye ever. We can't win on this topic, which is why everyone should make sure their lipsticked or not lipsticked mouths say nothing but compliments, but in the most careful of ways.
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Let's say a woman who generally wears a decent amount of makeup heads out in public with only a touch of powder and a hint of mascara. Someone she sees often says to her:
A. You look really pretty today!
B. You look tired. Bad night?
C. (Pointing to face) What did you do different?
Which one do you think she would most like to hear?
Answer: None of the above. Each one of those remarks could make her question herself. Even "You look really pretty today!" because that will make her think that all the other times she is all done up with makeup, she isn't looking good. Then each time she goes to do her makeup, she will second guess herself and wonder if she's putting too much on.
Oh makeup. I love you. I hate you.
This isn't a feminist issue either. As writer Natasha Scripture details in The New York Times:
Cleopatra pretty much invented the eyeliner, and she ruled a kingdom! Many consider her to be the first feminist ever; and her legacy is testimony to the fact that a woman can be beautiful, smart, empowered, and wear a ton of eye makeup.
If a woman went on a job interview today with full-on Cleopatra makeup, I'm not sure how serious she will be taken unless of course it was a job interview for the role in the movie Cleopatra. A 2013 updated and more subdued Cleopatra eye, however, would be lovely.
Just today I looked in the mirror after a day of taking care of my daughter who is sick. We stayed in all day. I wore my best yoga pants and long T-shirt. No makeup. I felt ugly. And thought, There's no way my husband would want to have sex with me looking like this. So I asked him.
He told me I was beautiful no matter what and of course he'd love to have sex with me.
I don't wear makeup so I can have sex with my husband. But makeup does make me feel attractive, so feeling attractive also makes you attractive, and sex is more likely to happen when you're feeling hot about yourself. Plus, I like to feel pretty -- whatever pretty means to me.
I'll confess now that I made the part up about asking my husband. I'm sure that's what he would have said though, but asking him would mean he'd examine my non-makeup face and really, really look at it, and since I had no makeup on at all and as I mentioned felt ugly, I didn't want him to possibly see what I was seeing.
Self-esteem and makeup go together like my Kabuki brush and mineral powder. And if wearing makeup makes you feel beautiful, empowered, ready to face the world, ready to have sex with your husband, then feel beautiful, empowered, ready to face the world, and have sex with your husband.
Long live makeup. Even though you are sometimes a burden, you smear when I don't want you to, and you cost a lot for the good stuff, you are still a good friend.
Do you love your makeup?
Image via Katie Tegtemeyer/Flickr