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January 16, 2013 8:41 AM   Subscribe

The New York Times asks seven 'experts': Does makeup ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it?

The Essays
* Red Lips Can Rule the World by Natasha Scripture, blogger and writer about 'women’s issues and dating mishaps' for the Huffington Post.
* Must This Get Political? by Phoebe Baker Hyde, author of "The Beauty Experiment"
* Look Your Best, Feel Your Best by Scott Barnes, makeup artist and author of "About Face" and "Face to Face."
* A Choice, Not a Requirement by Deborah Rhode, law professor at Stanford and author of "The Beauty Bias."
* It’s What You Make of it by Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School and research psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Author of "Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty."
* Using Makeup Shows Love for Yourself by Mally Roncal, makeup artist and the founder of Mally Beauty.
* Women Should Do What They Want by Thomas Matlack, The Good Men Project

Responses
* The Last Psychiatrist: No Self-Respecting Woman Would Go Out Without Make Up
* AutoStraddle: Let's Queer The NYT 'Debate' About Women And Makeup
* Jenna Saunders at Jezebel: When Is Wearing Makeup A "Choice"?
* Wild Beauty: Does Makeup Hurt Self-Esteem? Is The New York Times Sexist for Asking?
* Echidne of the Snakes: On Makeup, Gender and the New York Times

Also See
* The Naked Face Project (Two Women. Sixty Days. No Makeup. No Shaving. No Primping. What Happens Next?)
* About-Face (Site provides women and girls with skills to critically examine media messages that affect their positive self-image / Previously on Mefi)

* Previously on Mefi: In the Eye of the Beholder, or a Bar of Soap? Covers Dove's Real Beauty ad campaign which was also discussed in Wrinkled and Rankled and The Eye of the Beholder. Dove still offers a website devoted to helping improve the self-esteem of young girls and women, including a Self Esteem Toolkit and Resources
posted by zarq (260 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite

 
By the way, the website that Dove set up for their Real Beauty ad campaign was "campaignforrealbeauty.com" which appears to have been taken over by a company hawking a weight-loss product. I didn't link to it in the post, or here (why give them the business/pageviews) but it sure took me by surprise.
posted by zarq at 8:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does makeup ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it?

Yes.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:52 AM on January 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think a more interesting framing of this question is, are men losing out by NOT wearing makeup?
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [30 favorites]


Some dudes wear make-up actually. I couldn't believe it until I saw it in person.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2013


Oh wow great the New York Times has some opinions about my wearing and not wearing make-up I am pretty excited.
posted by quadrilaterals at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [52 favorites]



I think a more interesting framing of this question is, are men losing out by NOT wearing makeup?
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:54 AM on January 16 [+] [!]



That's an interesting rhetorical trick. It seems to answer the first question.
If the consensus of men in a male dominated society is that make-up is undesirable, what does it say about the expectations being placed on women?
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is a really interesting breakdown of all the different opinions on the subject.

I'm not and never have been a makeup person. I wear it for special occasions, interviews, and going out, but not on a daily basis. By the time I'd learned how to apply it halfway properly I was too set into my "shower, dress, go" morning routine to incorporate it, and I'm never totally confident in my ability to apply for a "natural" look anyway. When I wear makeup you can tell I'm wearing makeup and I would feel overdressed wearing that sort of look daily.

So I never really felt pressure to apply it, and don't feel naked or wrong without it, though I know I look better with it on (hence applying it when I want to feel extra-special-pretty). I didn't see not applying it as a statement or rebellion, but as a result of my own inertia and ignorance.

A testament to said ignorance was the revelatory experience of looking at pictures in those campaigns for women to show their makeup-less faces. I knew other women were better at application than me, but I didn't realize how much better. Because I swear to God, it wasn't until a couple years ago when I first saw those pictures that I realized it wasn't that other women just naturally had brighter skin and darker lashes and less bags--it was all makeup.
posted by schroedinger at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Speaking of makeup and men, it seems to be getting big in Korea.
posted by qcubed at 9:02 AM on January 16, 2013


I wear makeup (and put an effort into my appearance in general) almost exclusively as an effort to impress my female peers. Which means that probably 75% of the time I look like a schlub, but to be fair, so does my husband and most of the people at the grocery store, and those are the only people I see on a daily basis (working from home is awesome). I'm not sure if that stance is included in the list of articles; I made the mistake of clicking on The Last Psychiatrist article first (ugggh) and don't really want to read any others.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Women Should Do What They Want = damn straight!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


To me makeup is part of the "looking like I made an effort" routine, along with subtle but appropriate (and hopefully matching) jewelry, hair that I'd blown dry with a bit of product in it, and clothes that are at least a step up from yoga pants.

That said, if I do not wear makeup one day, it's because I'm consciously making a decision to not give a shit about my acne scars, dark circles, uneven skin tones, etc.

When I lived in Boston, I hardly ever went out without makeup. Even if I was going to brunch on a weekend in jeans and a hoodie, I put on some foundation and mascara. I felt like there was a minimum level of put-together-ness required for living in the neighborhood that I did (Beacon Hill, a fairly upscale neighborhood) so I always made the effort.

Now that I live in a fairly fashion-unconscious city in the UK and I work from home, I don't bother 99% of the time. But it's not because my self-esteem is magically better, it's because clearly people here are judging others' appearances on a whole different scale than I was used to and I'm happy enough to be off that scale. (I also run less risk of running in to people I know, particularly professional contacts) (I also wear yoga pants in public a lot more)

So I'm a tomboy feminist with a whole host of respect for the queer community and spectra of gender expression and all those other things that mean that, logically, I shouldn't REALLY care, and I guess the moral of the story is, I do still care what other people think of me and whether or not I wear makeup on any given day is directly related to how much I care on a given day.
posted by olinerd at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, there's something hilarious about a dude saying, "Women should do what they want." Thank you for that, male person! I was waiting for you to give me the go ahead.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [53 favorites]


schroedinger: " A testament to said ignorance was the revelatory experience of looking at pictures in those campaigns for women to show their makeup-less faces. I knew other women were better at application than me, but I didn't realize how much better. Because I swear to God, it wasn't until a couple years ago when I first saw those pictures that I realized it wasn't that other women just naturally had brighter skin and darker lashes and less bags--it was all makeup."

*nod* My wife went through a similar revelation a few years ago. I remember how shocked she was.

I forgot to include a "previously" link in the post that may be of interest: Model-Morphosis is an ongoing project by the New York Times, where a photographer shoots a model before and after their fashion week runway makeup has been applied. The differences can be fascinating. You can see how makeup is used to give the illusion that a model's cheekbones, eyes, lips and other features (such as the shapes of their eyes and noses) are different than they really are.
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ah, yes, the Campaign for Real Beauty... from the makers of Axe.
posted by Madamina at 9:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Went straight to The Last Psychiatrist, expecting a de rigeur #slatepitch. Was not disappointed. A+++ would kneejerk-contrarian again.
posted by edheil at 9:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


The Last Psychiatrist's post was pretty great, I thought. It was a rant, and I'm worried about how much his cocaine habit costs, but frankly it was pretty smart and threaded all the needles I wanted to see threaded. Choice... isn't.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:09 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Beyond basic hygiene, altering your natural appearance means you don't find your natural appearance acceptable. That includes men scraping the hair off their faces every morning. That doesn't mean its inherently wrong to change your appearance. If you want to smear colors on your face or punch holes in your flesh or remove hair from certain places, you should be free to do that. But there's something wrong when the world at large insists on a particular look and issues demerits to those who don't conform.
posted by Longtime Listener at 9:11 AM on January 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


Neither. It is just a work/professional thing to wear it, like suits and heels and pearls. None of which I need to feel self esteem, but all of which are pretty standard in my workplace.

To me, this is a bit like asking if ties improve or detract from men's self esteem.
posted by bearwife at 9:11 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Women Should Do What They Want = damn straight!

I want to put makeup on men and ridiculous outfits on dogs!
posted by elizardbits at 9:11 AM on January 16, 2013 [42 favorites]


Does makeup ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it?


What a silly question. No doubt if this was asked in the green it would be deleted.

The answer, of course, is yes.
Make does damage A woman's self-esteem. There is also A woman whose self-esteem is elevated by it. Just as there is A woman whose self-esteem remains the same regardless of make-up

The interesting part is that one attractiveness is often changed by your self-esteem. I've know quite a few people who are not really that attractive but their self-esteem makes them look like they are models.
posted by 2manyusernames at 9:12 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


For women who work, their spending on clothing and cosmetics appears to have a small positive effect on earnings but not enough to outweigh the cost of investment. Hamermesh et al. 2002 [pdf]. There were fairly rapid diminishing returns, and the effect peaked at about a 15% return on spending of 250 yuan per month ($480 per year). In other words, women who spent $40 per month on clothing and cosmetics saw about $6 per month in increased gross income.

So: spending more on beauty may have some positive effect on earnings, but overall it represents a significant loss, at least in purely monetary terms. Its effects on happiness, attracting mates, maintaining social status, etc were not captured by that study.
posted by jedicus at 9:13 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]



Also, there's something hilarious about a dude saying, "Women should do what they want." Thank you for that, male person! I was waiting for you to give me the go ahead.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:07 AM on January 16 [+] [!]


The real joke is that it's reasonable to assume that "what women want" will generally look something like what society expects of them. It's not just that having a man suggest that women should do what they want is patrimonial, it's an appallingly safe statement, given that women want to be happy, functional members of society and playing nicely is often a requirement of that. People want what they're taught to want, and what their circumstances require of them.

A woman in a vacuum might have the luxury of choosing whether or not she wanted to wear make up, but then I suppose a woman in a vacuum would have other things on her mind.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


oxygen, for example
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on January 16, 2013 [73 favorites]


Having worked in cleanrooms for years where makeup was not allowed, it has become my habit not wear it. The longer it's been since I've worn makeup, the more alien the concept of it has become. Really? I am expected to paint my face with different colors for different parts to attract mates? It's just so... primitive sounding.
posted by kamikazegopher at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]



oxygen, for example
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on January 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


I didn't make a joke about the effects of pressure, or the lack there of. I'd like that noted.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Does makeup make your face smell gross? Yes. Yes it does.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:18 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I like makeup. I like decoration. I like how I look in it. So why not?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel like this is a good place to mention that until recently I only wore makeup for Very Special Occasions, like job interviews or weddings, and the only people that ever pointed it out to me in a negative light were men, and always in a "you'd be so much prettier if you..." way. Fuck you, dude. I'm not your scenery.
posted by troika at 9:20 AM on January 16, 2013 [29 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "Also, there's something hilarious about a dude saying, "Women should do what they want." Thank you for that, male person! I was waiting for you to give me the go ahead."

I'd agree with you to some extent about his mansplaining. But at the same time, I wonder how many young girls believe men will only think they're pretty and worth paying attention to if they wear makeup. I had a conversation about it with one of my teenage nieces last week, and was surprised at how strongly she believes a guy will never find her attractive unless she wears makeup and nail polish.

I recognize the importance of having women not derive their idea of self-worth and beauty from an outside source. Of being comfortable in their own skin. To be free of having to live up to standards of beauty that are imposed on them by both men and women in our culture. But we live in a world where a certain set of standards is ubiquitous, and girls are immersed / steeped in a culture that encourages certain distorted gender images and roles.

On some level, surely there must be some positive effect to young girls and women to hear a non-disparaging opinion from a man about their right to determine their own standard of beauty, no?
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also, there's something hilarious about a dude saying, "Women should do what they want." Thank you for that, male person! I was waiting for you to give me the go ahead.

To be fair, I'm a man and if I were asked this is pretty much the only answer I could give. The problem seems to be the NYT asking him in the first place. Hell, I don't even tell my wife to wear makeup, so my answer is always going to be "do what you want."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


I never, ever really got into the whole makeup thing. The only thing I do most days is a bit of foundation in one spot and concealer (he-lloooooooo, acne, my constant companion since age 13), and the rest can go hang. I've tried experimenting with more, but no matter how minimalist I go with it, I look at the results in the mirror and my reaction is not "wow, that brings my eyes out" or anything, it is always, "I've got stuff on my face!" and I end up wiping it all off. I do make an effort if it's a date or a special occasion, but it's usually just a tiny, tiny whisper of blush, some lip gloss, and a tiny, tiny whisper of eyeshadow added to the basics.

And I have always, always been this way. When I was growing up, makeup seemed like such a damn waste of time - I just plain didn't see the point in putting blush on and then dabbing it off to get that faint veil of color, when my cheeks already were the color I was going for to begin with. And as for "bringing my eyes out"? What? My eyes are right on my face, right in the same place they'd be whether I wore makeup or not, and people were going to see them whether I put something on them or not. I did go with concealer to cover zits, yeah, but on clear-skin days, I was thinking "sweet, I don't have to fuss with that! Woo extra time in the morning!" I was probably the only girl in my high school whose mother was trying to get her to wear makeup rather than trying to get her not to - I'd be on my way to the bus stop and Mom would be tugging at my sleeve, all, "just a little bit of color on your cheeks? Please?" I do use a bit of foundation now (my skin tone isn't quite as even as it was when I was in my dewy youth), but even so it's still damn minimal.

I do admit, though, that I'm a bit lucky in that I have really, really good genetics on my side - all of us women in my mother's family look about ten years younger than we actually are. My mother got a part-time job when I was in high school and would sometimes introduce me to her work friends, and they would be floored - "J, there is no way you're old enough to have a teenage daughter!" So a lot of the aging "imperfections" just aren't there on me right now - and I have a feeling that by the time they show up, I'll be old enough to be in my "fuck everyone, I'mma do whatever I want" dotage anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm smart and funny whether I'm wearing makeup or not.
posted by padraigin at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


I do foundation only, every day, with MAYBE a little blush, because I think being over made up makes women uglier. There's a reason that women look so much hotter on day 39 of Survivor than they do on day 1.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2013


Sigh. "Feminine" clothes (high heels, straight skirts, fitted dresses) are not inherently uncomfortable, if they are well-fitted and well-made. Seriously, if your clothes are uncomfortable, it's because they do not fit you, not because the patriarchy has got you down.

By all means, reject restrictive stereotypes and reject expectations that dehumanize you, but seriously, just wear clothes that fit you. You'll be happier. Sure, some types of clothing restrict your movement and if that doesn't work for you, don't wear them. But a straight (i.e. tight) skirt is not uncomfortable, unless it's too small.

But "beauty" as a larger concept--"beauty" as a standard to be conformed to--that's really complicated and I think larger than a debate about patriarchy. Even absent patriarchy, or misogyny, or sexism, you're going to have a basic desire to be attractive to other people. Not just to potential mates, but to everyone. I'm not sure the desire to be attractive arises only from patriarchy--even if the system of defining beauty that we are under does.

A standard which only allows one form of beauty is oppressive, but a desire to be beautiful is not necessarily oppressive, right?
posted by crush-onastick at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


I also want to respond to the outmoded idea that women wear makeup to attract men. I don't think women wear *specific* makeup to attract men, and anecdotally I find men do not notice specific changes in or additions of makeup.* So in that respect, when I pencil in my eyebrows for the first time or do something different with eyeliner, the only people who notice are my female friends and coworkers who may congratulate me on making my eyes pop more with the darker brows. My partner may say something like "You look nice," but to him it's an all-over effect, not specifics. So while I may, if I'm going out, try to look all-around spiffed up, then yeah, makeup is a part of that. But I do not specifically pencil in those brows because I know it'll really turn on my guy. In that respect I think I do these things far more for the women who will notice specific things I do.

I also sort of think of it the same way a friend of mine does about perfume. She has no feeling that she smells bad or anything, it's just that putting on a spritz of fragrance on a date night is, to her, part of doing something special, the same way her husband will use a special cologne or make sure he's freshly shaven.

*This same friend has naturally very wavy long-ish hair that she usually blows out and flat irons every day. One day she let it dry naturally so it was all curly, and he was stunned at how different she looked. Only he couldn't figure out it was her hair. After some deliberation he finally said, "Did you pluck your eyebrows or something?" Yeah. She doesn't do it for the guys.
posted by olinerd at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


On some level, surely there must be some positive effect to young girls and women to hear a non-disparaging opinion from a man about their right to determine their own standard of beauty, no?

This is, I have found, a deeply personal aspect of each individual's feminism. There are women who firmly believe that any unsolicited opinion from a man about a woman's appearance is pandering dangerously to the patriarchy, no matter how well-intended. The thought that a man felt it necessary to "give his permission" for women to do what they want may be similarly (poorly) received.
posted by elizardbits at 9:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do foundation only, every day, with MAYBE a little blush, because I think being over made up makes women uglier. There's a reason that women look so much hotter on day 39 of Survivor than they do on day 1.

I think it's because they've added muscle, lost weight and gotten sun tans. We'd all look great if we did so much physical activity outdoors.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


If the consensus of men in a male dominated society is that make-up is undesirable, what does it say about the expectations being placed on women?

It is trivially easy--anthropologically and historically speaking--to find "male dominated societies" where men routinely choose to wear make-up. There's no good argument to be made that wearing make-up is inherently a sign of social subjection.
posted by yoink at 9:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Daily makeup? A friend of mine says that some habits start as cobwebs and end up being iron chains.

I bought a bunch of makeup a few weeks ago and got lessons on applying it. When I got home I realized I didn't want to be bothered any more. Looking "better" never truly made me feel better about myself, and I'm pretty sure it never got me anywhere socially (except in the most minor ways) either. If I felt like I had to wear makeup as part of a job costume, I would do so, but I don't think I'd be in that job for a very long time.

This is from someone who rarely left her college dorm room without her "face" on. What can I say, it was the '80s, and I didn't like the way I looked.

I'm not ready to let go of the sunscreen and retinol, though. Well, at least there's a good health-related reason to wear sunscreen. I'm truly afraid of what looking "old" is going to do to my ability to make a decent living in IT, though. Now when THAT fear goes away, particularly for women, we'll know that some serious social change has occurred.
posted by Currer Belfry at 9:36 AM on January 16, 2013


The thought that a man felt it necessary to "give his permission" for women to do what they want may be similarly (poorly) received.

By my grace, I shall allow you to have posted this comment.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]



It is trivially easy--anthropologically and historically speaking--to find "male dominated societies" where men routinely choose to wear make-up. There's no good argument to be made that wearing make-up is inherently a sign of social subjection.
posted by yoink at 9:33 AM on January 16 [+] [!]


Yeah, it's a cute rhetorical trick, not a thesis proposal. You're right, a cross-cultural study of body decoration and gender could be really interesting though.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2013


I really wish there was a "live like others" module in US high school curriculum where kids would have to spend one entire day in full drag as a different gender. Obviously this will never happen because TEH GUBMINT MAKIN ARE KIDS INTO HOMMASEXSHULS but I think it would be valuable nevertheless.
posted by elizardbits at 9:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's no good argument to be made that wearing make-up is inherently a sign of social subjection.

Social subjugation, no.

Economic exploitation? Yep. It's an industry: Tell women they're ugly, then sell them the cure.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Make-up is just expensive goop that I will sweat off in the Atlanta humidity before anyone ever sees me in it. I know that women in the South wear make-up, but I don't really understand how that can possibly work. I guess they just reapply it many (many) times a day.

Sure, some types of clothing restrict your movement and if that doesn't work for you, don't wear them. But a straight (i.e. tight) skirt is not uncomfortable, unless it's too small.

Clothing that restricts my movement is uncomfortable. No matter how "well-fitted" a straight skirt is, I can't walk down the street comfortably in it, let alone teach ecology lab. I have chronically inflamed feet, so any shoes that are not actually made for feet are uncomfortable, especially when my ankle gives way and I fall down. Maybe these things are perfectly comfortable for you personally, but there's no way that you can say that a straight skirt and high heels is universally comfortable and that people (women) who don't think so are simply wrong.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


Really? I am expected to paint my face with different colors for different parts to attract mates? It's just so... primitive sounding.

Reductionism can make a lot of our behaviors sound pretty silly (I was thinking about this recently with regards to pretty much everything that humans do around large bodies of water) but I don't know that it's always the most informative approach with something as complicated as makeup.

I think the real trick to talking about this is to recognize that something like wearing makeup is simultaneously a choice that we have no right to judge on an individual level and a trend with problematic, patriarchal attitudes swirling around it on the societal level. I think a lot of misunderstandings happen because we mix up the two.

To me, this is a bit like asking if ties improve or detract from men's self esteem.

As far as cultural standards for appearance go, I think this elides the most important distinction between something like the expectation that men should wear ties and the expectation that women should wear makeup: makeup involves altering the appearance of your face, which we treat as essentially the most faithful physical manifestation of the mind behind it. In that context, I think the expectation that women should wear makeup is a lot more imposing.
posted by invitapriore at 9:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


It is trivially easy--anthropologically and historically speaking--to find "male dominated societies" where men routinely choose to wear make-up.

Except the cultural context behind said "make-up" will be different enough for this to be a completely pointless statement.
posted by griphus at 9:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not that makeup is inherently awful. It's the women-must and men-may-not thing that's inherently awful.

And the general tendency of men not to notice details of makeup does not mean they don't notice the whole picture -- much like only a crocheter will notice the stitch details of a crocheted sweater, but anyone can say that they think it's pretty. It's an eye training issue, and if a person hasn't been trained to see those details, they won't. That's not the same as "men don't notice or treat you differently depending on whether or not you're wearing makeup," because many men do, even if they can't articulate why (due to lack of specialized training, not due to stupid.)
posted by asperity at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


But a straight (i.e. tight) skirt is not uncomfortable, unless it's too small.

A straight skirt without a reasonable slit in it is uncomfortable because it restricts my gait. It is a disgusting and sad aspect of society that I do not feel comfortable wearing garments that might hamper my ability to flee from a dangerous situation, but here we are.
posted by elizardbits at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


I love makeup, always have. There are pictures of me in the 5th grade with my sad Jennifer Aniston-knockoff hairdo wearing gray eyeliner (why gray? Not sure, but I went through a big gray eyeliner phase in the 5th grade). I'm not quite as adventurous these days but I do love taking a few minutes in the morning to fix my face. And don't even ask me how many different lip glosses I own. All I know is that each one has its own special scent & texture & color and I love them all.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:48 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's an eye training issue, and if a person hasn't been trained to see those details, they won't. That's not the same as "men don't notice or treat you differently depending on whether or not you're wearing makeup," because many men do, even if they can't articulate why (due to lack of specialized training, not due to stupid.)

I don't know. I don't feel much motivation to dress up a certain way for someone who usually can't be bothered to clip his toe nails and who, consistently, tells me I look fabulous no matter what I'm wearing (even if it's a pair of boxer shorts and a big sloppy T-shirt). Pretty much every exchange of body-related commentary I've ever experienced has been with other women. Women seem to be the ones who care about whether I shave my legs or not, whether I pluck my eyebrows or not, if I've put on weight or am really going to eat that or where I bought my eye shadow.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:50 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Does makeup make your face smell gross? Yes. Yes it does.

Only if you're wearing Lancome.

But seriously....men absolutely notice makeup, whether you think you do or not. I routinely go out with tinted moisturizer, subtle gel-based blush, tinted lip balm, tiny dots of gel eyeliner to fill in my lash line (my lashes are already black), undereye concealer, and light finishing powder.....and am routinely told by clueless heterosexual men "how great I look without makeup." Skip all this, and under bright florescents with someone who hasn't seen it before, and I get told I "look tired."

The "celebrities without makeup" photos the tabloids and celeb magazines publish are only rarely "without makeup"...they are more accurately labeled, "Celebs with minimal makeup."
posted by availablelight at 9:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [20 favorites]


I wear makeup for lots of reasons.

This morning, that reason was I had to talk to The Living at the end of a 12-8 graveyard shift and let's just say that if you look like a zombie who feeds exclusively on the brains of junkies people in suits tend to not take you very seriously.

So let's soften that deathly pallor with some pink, brighten up those cavernous hollows, and powder up the film that seems to have grown over the whole thing during the course of the night, and remember to close your mouth when you're not using it!
posted by louche mustachio at 9:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really wish there was a "live like others" module in US high school curriculum where kids would have to spend one entire day in full drag as a different gender. Obviously this will never happen because TEH GUBMINT MAKIN ARE KIDS INTO HOMMASEXSHULS but I think it would be valuable nevertheless.

Hell, make it a yearly unit and have them start with it in grade school. This would have really made me feel better about the mother-mandated long bowl cut that I sported in my elementary school years.
posted by invitapriore at 9:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was never one for painting my face, and I stopped dyeing my hair a decade ago after I had a long thought about pouring mysterious chemicals on my scalp. Of course, I've reached the age where no one seriously thinks I should bother trying to make myself sexually attractive to strangers anyway. One of the wonderful things about getting old is discovering how little you really give a shit about fitting in with current gender norms. Clean, well-brushed and healthy works fine for me. And the leg fur is useful for warmth in winter.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 9:57 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


FWIW, by "uncomfortable", I do not mean "ill-suited to your needs to the extent that you feel uncomfortable wearing it". By "uncomfortable" I mean "pinchy" or "something you can't breath in" or "leaving marks on your skin when you remove it"--I mean the actual feeling of the garment against your body, not how you feel as measured by what you're able to do wearing a thing. Perhaps that's too narrow a definition.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:57 AM on January 16, 2013


Beyond basic hygiene, altering your natural appearance means you don't find your natural appearance acceptable. [...] That doesn't mean its inherently wrong to change your appearance. [...] But there's something wrong when the world at large insists on a particular look and issues demerits to those who don't conform.

I think that's overly simplistic.

Practically every single social situation involves some sort of dress code, whether explicit or not: appropriate work clothing isn't appropriate for funerals or NASCAR races or going to the grocery store or a night on the town. This has nothing to do with our "natural appearance" -- which is naked with hair down to our asses, which is pretty universally not socially acceptable anywhere.

Clothing, and makeup, are signifiers: encoded and generally understood signals about the wearer's proclivities and social status and desires. Others absolutely do make judgements based on those signals, but that's just how society works, it's how we decide whether a stranger is a potential friend or someone to be ignored.

A man choosing to put on a button-down instead of a t-shirt is sending just as much a set of signals as a woman choosing to put on eyeshadow or not.

The only way that becomes a bad thing is when the social demand for some public display (whether clothing or makeup or the size of your house or the make of your car) becomes so universal that it's not a choice anymore, that people feel they have to make that display in order to be recognized as part of whatever cohort they want to be recognized as part of. Especially when that 'required' display involves a lot of time or expense or just secondary social connotations that the wearer may not actually desire.

Which is arguably the case for makeup.
posted by ook at 9:58 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


American women, on average, earn around 20% less than men but somehow we're expected to spend way more on our appearance. I look around at the professional men at work, they can, and do, get away with owning a few suits, a handful of ties, some shirts, a pair or two of shoes. The women, in contrast, own many more items of clothing. A woman who came to work wearing the same thing day after day would definitely raise some eyebrows.

Men's clothes are made to last for many years and fashions change slowly. They don't have to spend much on haircuts, few of them die or perm, or otherwise mutilate their hair. If they are going grey, it makes them look distinguished. (Women going grey look old in many people's view.)

So what's going on here? Women are supposed to spend more of their hard-earned money on superficial crap, making them even broker than they already are? is that so that they have to look for men to complement their incomes, as they look for men to compliment their hair, makeup, clothing?
posted by mareli at 9:58 AM on January 16, 2013 [25 favorites]


Skip all this, and under bright florescents with someone who hasn't seen it before, and I get told I "look tired."

you should carry a taser around for when people say that
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think romantic partners are different on the they-don't-care-whether-you-wear-makeup front. Generally speaking, they'll see you both ways and see the effort and products it takes to make the conforming-to-expectations magic happen. It's everybody else, the ones who don't see you naked on a regular basis (I doubt many people are going for the full-body makeup effect) whose reactions to you will be affected.
posted by asperity at 10:01 AM on January 16, 2013


I get told I "look tired."

correct response: "I AM tired, actually. TIRED OF YOUR SHIT."

for certain values of "correct" obvsly
posted by elizardbits at 10:01 AM on January 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'm a 30-year-old professional woman who has never worn makeup outside of Halloween and Insane Clown Posse shows. My feminism leans pretty far toward the radical side, but the lack of makeup predates the lesson that feminism is a movement independent of simple common sense.

Until I started reading commentary like what's linked in the OP, and seeing comments made by other professional women that suggest makeup is inextricably part and parcel of a truly professional woman's appearance, it had never (EVER) occurred to me that I or any other woman could possibly be expected to follow suit -- like, the idea that two women going without makeup or hair removal for two months is so novel that they decided to make a website about it? Blows my mind. Truly.
The idea of covering up my face with colored liquid and/or powder before I go to work in the morning just seems like a waste of time I could better spend sleeping; that's about as much thought as I've ever given to the idea. I've since been informed, directly and indirectly, that choosing not to wear makeup makes it seem like I'm lazy and inherently unprofessional, or that I must not care about my appearance.

Now, I've been assumed to be a standard-issue butch lesbian more times than I can count -- seriously, could this be why? Could it really come down to the no-makeup thing -- because if I don't wear makeup, I must not want to attract a man? These articles suggest that may be the case. (I've always been as straight as the day is long, and as such have never had the remotest idea why people, including my family, have generally assumed I am gay/try to set me up with their female friends/act like I am just being shy or ashamed of my true sexuality when I decline/&c.)

This entire to-do makes me feel like I've been living in a world of blissful ignorance, as I was wholly unaware that choosing not to wear makeup may have already had (and may still/yet have) a potentially negative effect on my career and/or mate selection trajectory. Pretty heartbreaking.
posted by divined by radio at 10:02 AM on January 16, 2013 [34 favorites]


The thing that baffles me is women who like to wear makeup who feel obligated to justify it or insist that they do it for themselves only and it has nothing to do with anyone else, as if it's shameful to do anything either because it conforms to what other people think looks neat and respectable or because it conforms to what other people think looks attractive.

I like makeup. It does often make me feel better, but that's at least in part because I think I look more put-together to other people. I do lots of things because they conform. I don't wear slippers to work (even at NPR), I don't wear clothes with holes in them, I don't wear pajamas to the office, I comb my hair, I put on jewelry (sometimes), and I like it when people compliment a dress or a great pair of shoes or something.

This does not make me any less outspoken or any better or worse at my job, or a better or worse person to be around. I do care, to a degree, what other people think. It doesn't mean I'm terrified about wrinkles or gray hairs, and it's not something I'm obsessed with, but when I choose to care about it (as I do with makeup), it doesn't embarrass me either. I absolutely think other people should do what they want -- I don't color my hair anymore (or I'm not right now, anyway); some people think that's bad and I look old, and they can long-walk/short-pier it as far as I'm concerned. Other women are the same way about makeup, and that's cool for them and should be cool for them. But if you wear makeup -- EVEN IF it's because you like how you look to other people -- I think that's also okay and doesn't require apology.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:02 AM on January 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


On our weekly trip to the local big-box to do our grocery-and-other-needs shopping, my wife and I routinely have to wander into the cosmetics aisles. Honestly, it's a horrifying experience for me, being assaulted by the marketing images plastered everywhere of models slathered to a clean, glossy finish in "high fashion" makeup, hair styles, and nail treatments. Oddly, the models all seem to be posed in this open-mouthed, fingers-on-lips, mid-orgasmic "ahhhhhh" position. Personally, I don't find them attractive in the least.

As an outsider to this world, I can't imagine what it must be like to be a woman living in this bubble of surreality, aimed to influence your very self-image. I honestly can't think of anything in the male world quite as enormous, ubiquitous or universally influential as is the cosmetics aisles in the woman's world.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


So what's going on here? Women are supposed to spend more of their hard-earned money on superficial crap…

Just as men put their efforts in what they bring to the table, women bring appearance to the table, and so that's where their efforts are bound to go. In any case, no one is forcing anyone to do anything, but it's natural that in a competitive environment, women are going to be compelled by each other to invest more in their appearance. Let's not pretend the sky is orange.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:05 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If women only wear makeup because men/society are twisting their arms, why do they have monthly subscriptions to 1" thick magazines which are 90% advertisements for makeup?
posted by digsrus at 10:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


And we were doing so well here.
posted by invitapriore at 10:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [31 favorites]


I think romantic partners are different on the they-don't-care-whether-you-wear-makeup front. Generally speaking, they'll see you both ways and see the effort and products it takes to make the conforming-to-expectations magic happen. It's everybody else, the ones who don't see you naked on a regular basis (I doubt many people are going for the full-body makeup effect) whose reactions to you will be affected.

So . . . it's not really for attracting a mate? Or once you've attracted a mate who is actually licking your vagina on a regular basis, it doesn't matter? If that's true, what's the point, then?

I get hit on in equal measures by baristos and supermarket check out boys regardless of if I'm wearing make-up. Seriously, it's really only the ladies who care enough to comment.

And this is speaking as someone who likes wearing make-up to impress other ladies. Plus, sparkles. I like sparkles.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just as men put their efforts in what they bring to the table, women bring appearance to the table

!!

!!!

!!!!
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [77 favorites]


Except the cultural context behind said "make-up" will be different enough for this to be a completely pointless statement.

The point is simply that you can't say "men are the dominant group in our society; men choose not to wear make-up; therefore make-up is obviously an unpleasant/degrading thing that women would not wear in an egalitarian world." I think this is a much-repeated confusion in our discussions about various aspects of gender performance. That is, there are many practices which are, in our culture, freighted with coded messages about male dominance and female subjugation but only because of the cultural context in which those practices occur. I think it's very common for people to seek for some inherent aspect of the practice and read it as marking either subjugation or domination when in fact all it is doing is marking "we code this as masculine" or "we code this as feminine" and the other meanings float along on top of that. Thus, it's easy to imagine an egalitarian society in which (some) women choose to wear full face make-up simply as a form of body-adornment that carries no coding of inferior social status. Just as it is easy to imagine a grossly patriarchal society in which all women feel compelled to wear goth make-up or to get full-body tattoos or any other form of body-adornment you care to name which we, currently, read as registering rebellion against conservative cultural norms.
posted by yoink at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just as men put their efforts in what they bring to the table, women bring appearance to the table

!!


(among other things!)
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2013


I like bringing my appearance to the table roasted on a platter, garnished with maple-glazed baby carrots.
posted by lydhre at 10:12 AM on January 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


Wow, it's a good thing my boss doesn't know about this mythical table and hired me because of my vast wealth of nonprofit management knowledge. Fuck knows I'd be pissed if he was stupid enough to think me incompetent or unintelligent or bad at my job because I sometimes wear sweatpants to staff meetings and haven't worn makeup since 2003.
posted by elizardbits at 10:12 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I love makeup. Every day I get to paint on my face! On a busy day, this may be the only creative thing i get to do. It feels good and smells good and the colors are pretty! (I do not have anyone in my life that gets close enough to smell my face)

I am fortunate. I work in an office where makeup and sress clothes are not mandatory (though I realize there are probably people think that being Well Put Together is Essential for Promotion and that sucks). I do not read fashion or beauty magazines - I gave them up because they made me feel bad and I thought they were icky. I still love my make-up and nail polish and bath bombs.

I realise that wearing makeup (and sometimes heels, stockings & pencil skirts; other times I like jeans and loafers) may be morally dubious. I suppose I could be contributing to the problem but for now I am willing to put make up in the category of being a Fan of Problematic Things like fantasy novels and superheroes. *sigh*
posted by pointystick at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


So . . . it's not really for attracting a mate? Or once you've attracted a mate who is actually licking your vagina on a regular basis, it doesn't matter? If that's true, what's the point, then?

Social conformity, mostly, per the "you look tired" repeated above. It is a thing.

I almost never wear makeup and have always treated it as a special occasions and interviews activity, but getting older, I'm beginning to think about changing that. It's not that my skin's inherently bad (I am lucky), but compared to every other woman around me who wears makeup, I do look tired. It wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't such a cultural imperative among the people I see every day.

Bright-eyed and energetic-looking means I look more capable on the job. And I've just talked myself into going to buy some goddamn makeup on the way home from work tonight. Ugh.
posted by asperity at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just as men put their efforts in what they bring to the table, women bring appearance to the table

If my appearance is the most important thing a guy thinks I've brought to the table, I'm going to be saying "check please" and moving to a different table.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


divined_by_radio, I think that the positive effect of makeup on landing better jobs/men is seriously overstated by these articles. At least that's what my experience suggests to me.

Don't waste too much angst thinking about it (unless by "heartbreaking" you mean that all these people wearing makeup out of FUD is heartbreaking, which it is).

Like any self-help regimen, these folks think that if you do x and y just right, you'll get z. If you don't, you must have done x or y wrong. Never mind that "a" was the real factor at work.

Or, just read the "Last Psychiatrist" article, this issue is hashed out there at length.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am 40, in a professional career, and I never wear makeup. Actually, I do when I need to be on camera for some reason -- and I make someone else put it on me. I don't know how to put it on, and when it's on me, I feel like I'm wearing a mask -- I am constantly worrying that I've smeared my eyeliner, or I have lipstick on my teeth. Who needs it? The notion that my face is somehow not "complete" without various colored powders and gels spread all over it is completely absurd and foreign to me. Women who wear makeup every single day are part of a tribe that I don't belong to, and barely understand. I don't look down on them, if anything it's the opposite -- I feel like an infant, or someone lacking some key "female" gene. That being said, I do dress nicely, and have an actual hairstyle, and I groom my eyebrows. But makeup is a step too far.
posted by chowflap at 10:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


For a deeper and truly grassroots debate about cosmetics and the nature of beauty today, ask the viewers of the BBC's Snog, Marry, Avoid?
posted by Bwithh at 10:18 AM on January 16, 2013


I also want to respond to the outmoded idea that women wear makeup to attract men... But I do not specifically pencil in those brows because I know it'll really turn on my guy. In that respect I think I do these things far more for the women who will notice specific things I do.

I don't know, I certainly believe this is true for you, but to me this argument has always sounded like, "I don't know or care about the specific products that the workers who clean my office use, therefore they're just doing it to impress other workers who clean offices." Part of privilege is not having to think about the specifics.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 10:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Skip all this, and under bright florescents with someone who hasn't seen it before, and I get told I "look tired."

goddamn, female-on-female judgement is awesome, isn't it? by which I mean: if you look tired it isn't anybody but your closest's business. If this sort of commentary by co-workers and strangers is what drives you to partake in the makeup ritual, learn a response to shut it down or shrug it off. then again this whole thread turned into how everybody wears makeup or justifies perpetuating this bs, so whatever.

whether or not I wear makeup is irrelevant to my self-esteem or function as a human being. I don't even understand why this is a topic of discussion for any woman, ever, any more so than thongs vs boxers or how often one whitens their teeth or not.
posted by par court at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I go to the gym four times a week. I go because it makes me feel more energetic and "aggressive", which pays real dividends in the real world. Similarly, there is an undeniable clear difference in how I am treated in my social and my professional life based on my appearance. Shaving is a chore, and nice clothes that fit are expensive and take a long time to find, but I'm compelled by my environment to invest my energy in these things.

Wearing makeup might be a chore, but if a person finds that it pays dividends in the real world, then it's not "morally dubious" or part of a "grossly patriarchal society". Everyone is free, but the world rewards some things more than others, and we are all compelled to invest energy into what pays off.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love makeup. Since I first discovered Kevyn Aucoin's wonderful books (Making Faces, Face Forward, and the big coffee-table one that's out of print, the Art of Makeup) I've been a dedicated makeup enthusiast. I measure my makeup collection by the pound, and rarely do I step out without at least mascara (oddly enough, today is the first day in a week that I went to work completely sans makeup). There's a couple of reasons for this, and while most of them are harmless, a few are less than salutary.

The main one though is that as pointystick says, I love getting to daub at myself with tiny little brushes and pigments. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it, it's super fun.

As a kid I loved to play dress-up and I still like dressing up, putting on makeup, the whole nine yards. It makes me feel like I am stepping into a different story, whatever I feel like that day.

However, if I get into the habit of doing full makeup every day for a while, I do start to feel dejected and self-conscious eventually. It usually takes me a day or two of detox from makeup to start to feel normal again and be less critical of my appearance.
posted by Aubergine at 10:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


we are all compelled to invest energy into what pays off.

Thanks for clearing that up for me! God knows I hate thinking for myself when there's no man around to tell me what to do!
posted by elizardbits at 10:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


If women only wear makeup because men/society are twisting their arms, why do they have monthly subscriptions to 1" thick magazines which are 90% advertisements for makeup?

Perhaps because there's a multimillion dollar industry designed around selling these women the idea that they can't be successful/worthwhile/interesting/attractive unless they have THIS lipgloss and THAT mascara and if you don't keep up with the latest fashion trends you're a failure of a woman and no other women is going to respect you and no man will want you and so for the LOVE OF GOD BUY THIS MAGAZINE OR YOUR LIFE WILL BE RUINED?!?!?

Just a guess.

It's like a thing I saw on Tumblr once about men's and women's advertisements:

"Women! You're aging and ugly and leaking and fat and don't have time for everything you should be doing as a real woman and be more thoughtful and make tastier food and don't forget to make your house spotless and look great doing it!"

"Men! Shave, have sex and get drunk!"
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [34 favorites]


Make up is like peanut butter. Those that love it can't comprehend why others don't get it. I like the discussion, but i doubt anyone will change their positions on peanut butter or make up at this point in time.
posted by gadget_gal at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the honest truth is kind of hard to swallow. Makeup is not a universal, but for some women, it is necessary to get to what society deems as the "bare minimum."

In this way it's similar to hair removal.

So yes, for most women, their makeup or hair removal may not have much to do with their employment or dating prospects. But for some women, it absolutely does. People will make commentary - either about how ugly the person is or how unprofessional.

So someone with really hairy legs that doesn't shave them will be regarded as a freak, whereas someone with light, fine hair who doesn't shave them will not. Someone with massive acne and scars that doesn't put makeup on will be viewed as less positively than someone with relatively clear skin who doesn't wear makeup.
posted by corb at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


wait where am i leaking from

oh god

posted by elizardbits at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


Part of privilege is not having to think about the specifics.

This, a million times. I have heard general commentary on makeup from plenty of men on plenty of occasions. Both complaining about women who wear makeup (without realizing that women going for the "natural look" are actually wearing makeup) and about women who don't wear makeup (viewing all those women going about bare-faced as being underdressed). They really don't know a thing about the specifics of what varieties of makeup are applied, nor do they have to.
posted by asperity at 10:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


mareli: " Men's clothes are made to last for many years and fashions change slowly."

Not all men's clothes last for many years. I go through dress shoes every 6 months. How long my dress shirts and pants last depend on who manufactured them.

Men's fashions change just as frequently as women's. Fashionable colors, patterns and cuts of all sorts of clothing, suits and especially ties change from season to season. Those color schemes affect all levels of mens' clothes, from casual to non. It is possible for men to buy classic clothing that is less likely to quickly go out of style. But for suits, lapel sizes and button styles change. Length, pocket placement and color design. For shirts, color sizes and styles, button and pocket placement and style, fashionable colors and patterns change from season to season. Buy a snazzy new pastel dress shirt in the Spring and it may not be in style when winter comes. Matching a tie might be difficult.

The cultural difference: many men don't care one way or another whether they're wearing clothing that's a season or two out of date or whether another guy is doing so. (This becomes more commonplace once guys reach their 30's and 40's.) And many businesses don't give a damn what whether what a guy wears is up to date, as long as they look well-groomed. But many businesses also don't give a damn whether what a woman wears is up to date, as long as they look well-groomed.

However, there are a number of industries and businesses where such things do matter for both genders.

Shoes are another story. In contrast to women's heels, which seem typically designed only for their aesthetic value, men's shoes are mostly designed for appearance, practicality and comfort. Styles don't change all that frequently. But shoes like that are also available to women. The question is whether they're considered appropriate given a particular context.
posted by zarq at 10:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


"If women only wear makeup because men/society are twisting their arms, why do they have monthly subscriptions to 1" thick magazines which are 90% advertisements for makeup?"

Yeah man, dames and their wacky magazine subscriptions, am I right?

The thing about societal pressure is that you usually don't notice it. It's not like we wake up and society has slipped us a note under the door that says, "WEAR MORE MAKEUP OR THE JOB GETS IT", but it's just noticing things like women who put forward a more traditional appearance being treated better by bosses, or seeing every "business woman" on television in full make-up with giant hair and high-end suits.

Also, sometimes people just want to read a magazine.

Anyway, I don't wear makeup outside of fancy occasions because even in my late 30s I'll get terrible breakouts. I happen to be in a creative career and never quite got out of the 90s bedraggled nerd style so I find it doesn't hamper my career opportunities that much. That being said, I certainly go full make-up for interviews or important meetings because I believe that everyone (men and women) has a better chance of impressing people the more traditionally attractive they look, whether that is fair or not.
posted by jess at 10:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wearing makeup might be a chore, but if a person finds that it pays dividends in the real world, then it's not "morally dubious" or part of a "grossly patriarchal society". Everyone is free, but the world rewards some things more than others, and we are all compelled to invest energy into what pays off.

Oh Lord, really? These things are hardly mutually exclusive. Things that pay divendends in the real world (like, I don't know, being a white male) are if anything even more embedded into the social structure than things that don't pay dividends. That's how society functions. That's almost, one might say, what society means-- the rewarding and sanctioning of some behaviors over others by a collective of individuals.

Those of us who care about these things are driven to go deeper: why does makeup pay dividends? How the HELL are we "all free" if some things are more rewarded than others, and "we are all compelled to invest energy into what pays off?" How am I just as free to not wear makeup as my compatriot IS to wear makeup, if her gender conformity means that she will get the raise that includes health insurance and I will not? These are small things but, when added on top of one another, they can have really amazingly large consequences.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:31 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Make up is like peanut butter.

Don't take this too literally. I speak from experience and a very bad encounter with the neighbor's labradoodle.
posted by found missing at 10:32 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Widgetalley: That's from the nearly always brilliant Mitchell and Webb Look.
posted by bswinburn at 10:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


But many businesses also don't give a damn whether what a woman wears is up to date, as long as they look well-groomed.

Because we never see anyone in the media and few women in daily life not wearing makeup, our ideas about what constitutes "well-groomed" largely include makeup. Whether we realize it or not.
posted by asperity at 10:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


asperity: " Because we never see anyone in the media and few women in daily life not wearing makeup, our ideas about what constitutes "well-groomed" largely include makeup. Whether we realize it or not."

I was strictly talking about clothing in that response, but yes. Totally agree.
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some dudes wear make-up actually

I think you meant to say chellovecks, oh my brothers and sisters.
posted by dhartung at 10:35 AM on January 16, 2013


2bucksplus: Some dudes wear make-up actually. I couldn't believe it until I saw it in person.
Welcome to the 21st 20th 27th century BCE!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those of us who care about these things are driven to go deeper: why does makeup pay dividends? How the HELL are we "all free" if some things are more rewarded than others, and "we are all compelled to invest energy into what pays off?" How am I just as free to not wear makeup as my compatriot IS to wear makeup, if her gender conformity means that she will get the raise that includes health insurance and I will not? These are small things but, when added on top of one another, they can have really amazingly large consequences.

Freedom ends with the individual. Society is a collection of individuals, and — like you — those individuals are free to value what they please. So, just as you have your freedom, they have theirs, and you're right that you are compelled to live with other people's desires in mind because their decisions can have "amazingly large consequences".

I undertand that there are some pernicious values that are completely unfair and that society has made illegal in some contexts, e.g., racism in the workplace. I don't think that putting energy into how you appear to others is pernicious.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:43 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi: Also, there's something hilarious about a dude saying, "Women should do what they want." Thank you for that, male person! I was waiting for you to give me the go ahead.
Don't forget to hate on white people who think blacks should have the right to vote, straight people who support GLBT rights, and everyone else who ever said anything nice about another group.

It's disgusting how eager you are to assume the worst possible intention in others, and especially those who are actually on your side (aside from the hate you brought for them).
posted by IAmBroom at 10:45 AM on January 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


Prediction time: In the next ten years, makeup for men (both "natural" blemish concealment and obvious stuff like eyeliner) is going to become much more mainstream.
posted by purpleclover at 10:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Everyone is free, but the world rewards some things more than others, and we are all compelled to invest energy into what pays off.

I think that maybe, maybe, maybe, what we are discussing is whether it is incredibly stupid and backwards and awful that the things that 'pay off' for women are so fucking weirdo and awful and based on the notion that the point of women is first and foremost decoration for the Important Lives Of Men.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


I don't think that putting energy into how you appear to others is pernicious.

Aren't you the dude who just said that men bring "effort" to their workplace as their main thing, while women bring lookin' good? That.. seems pretty pernicious to me.
posted by jess at 10:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I undertand that there are some pernicious values that are completely unfair and that society has made illegal in some contexts

Unfortunately, the completely unfair makeup requirement is not one of those values. You can be fired for refusing to wear makeup.
posted by asperity at 10:50 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aren't you the dude who just said that men bring "effort" to their workplace as their main thing, while women bring lookin' good? That.. seems pretty pernicious to me.

Of course, everyone brings the miracle of their personality to every situation, but I was oversimplifying for the sake of driving home the reality that we all know, which is that appearance matters — particularly for women. I don't know why you think that that should be pernicious.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:50 AM on January 16, 2013


Excuse me, but I would like to point out that while we males may not paint our faces, "manscaping" isn't all that easy either. I'm of Slavic descent, which means that in all probability, my ancestors bore a strong resemblance to hirsute bears. I sprout hair almost instantaneously (except in the places where I want to sprout hair, ironically enough). Do you think it's fun getting all this damn hair off the unnecessary spots every other day, just to ensure I don't look like the missing link between humans and the animal kingdom? If so, my follicles strongly beg to differ.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the next ten years, makeup for men (both "natural" blemish concealment and obvious stuff like eyeliner) is going to become much more mainstream.

But only for the men who can't grow their natural blemish concealer out of their face.
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, I have basically never in my almost 50 years of life worn makeup and I never worried about it either until the last couple of years when suddenly it seems according to the powers that be (or at least the fucking New York Times) that I am no longer feminine, professional or competent because I just can't be bothered to put expensive, pore clogging, pain in the ass goo on my face every day. Why did nobody tell me this in the 80s when I was entering the workplace? Why was it never mentioned in the 90s when my career was going just fine? Is this why my life is so fucked up? No. No, it's not.

Yet again issues that I thought were laid to rest in the 70s rear their ugly heads and it's going to take more than foundation and a little blush to get rid of them. I swear to some unholy god that every day it seems as if this country goes further and further back in time.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:52 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I deeply hope that the next big thing in professional menswear is the return of the Ziggy Stardust look, as well as trunk hose/bubble shorts.
posted by elizardbits at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Excuse me, but I would like to point out that while we males may not paint our faces, "manscaping" isn't all that easy either.

I don't care because we are talking about women.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [34 favorites]


wolfdreams01: Do you think it's fun getting all this damn hair off the unnecessary spots every other day just to ensure I don't look like the missing link between humans and the animal kingdom? If so, my follicles strongly beg to differ.

That is not unique to men.
posted by troika at 10:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


we all know, which is that appearance matters — particularly for women. I don't know why you think that that should be pernicious.

Because the message is actually appearance is the most important thing about a woman. It devalues, you know.

Everything else.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:56 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also, not to derail this into the TRIALS OF MEN any further, but as a dude who both has to deal with a five o'clock shadow at noon and has worn women's makeup more than once: not even fucking close.
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


we all know, which is that appearance matters — particularly for women. I don't know why you think that that should be pernicious.

Because the message is actually appearance is the most important thing about a woman. It devalues, you know.

Everything else.


I really don't agree with this. Appearance takes "everything else" into account. The whole miracle of personality is expressed by means of appearance. The way a person presents himself or herself reveals the rich internal world, which you and I both value. If a person refuses to conform to social norms, then they either come across as rebellious or lazy or too stupid to recognize the world around them (like a cat who won't or can't clean itself). If a person follows all the social norms, they come across as banal, and having no internal voice.

(To tie this to sex, people who follow all the norms tend to be boring in bed not even knowing what they want let alone doing it, whereas people who follow none of the norms are poor listeners doing none of what you want.)
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2013


we all know, which is that appearance matters — particularly for women. I don't know why you think that that should be pernicious.

Because it's a ridiculous, pernicious double-standard that helps determine who succeeds and who does not based on how they look rather than what they can do? Because your argument appears to be based on the idea that "it's a choice to wear makeup," which, yeah, okay. Theoretically any woman can wear makeup (leaving aside those with allergies, sensitive skin, etc.). But your argument is part of the same system that means that the appearances we DON'T get a choice in-- our skin color, our height, our weight, the way we're built-- also determine our success. If promoting someone because they wear makeup is okay because it's okay that appearance matters, why isn't it okay to promote the skinny chick because "appearance matters" and she looks better than the diabetic chick who struggles with her weight but is equally good at her job?

I don't know how many times I can say it: you can't just isolate one small factor like that. That is not how humans work. We are part of systems no less than planets and solar systems and galaxies are part of systems, except that the difference between us and galaxies is that we can change our systems if we try. And accepting that the social pressure to wear make-up in order to be taken seriously or look professional or be considered desirable, and the market-driven advertising-fueled frenzy designed to destroy women's self-esteem around it, is part of a larger problem about an obsession with bodies needing to conform to a particular look in order for the people housed in those bodies to be "professional and worthwhile" is part of changing our human system.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I gave up on wearing make up to work mostly because lazy. Also, I work in a small office and rarely interact with clients, so who the fuck cares? I otherwise dress appropriately and do my hair, so I frankly don't care too much.

Also, I still don't know how to achieve the supposed natural, it looks like I'm not wearing makeup look. Foundation/tinted moisturizer always looks obvious on my skin, generally feels kind of gross on my face to boot, and that magical pore-free look seems basically impossible to me. And while I like eyeshadow just fine, wearing it for too long irritates my eyes. Sure, maybe I could spend hundreds of dollars and get multiple breakouts looking for just the right foundation or whatever, but why should I bother? I tweeze and pluck and thread and shave to get rid of all that super offensive unfeminine body hair, and just. That's it. That's the limit for physically uncomfortable shit I do for modern beauty standards, you guys. That is all the fucks I have to give.

I like getting dressed up and putting make up on for special occasions and interviews and such, but the thought of doing all of that everyday is exhausting. The thought of searching for just the right makeup that won't fuck up my skin but also look "natural" is exhausting. I look on the women who can do all this with a certain amount of disbelieving awe.
posted by yasaman at 11:08 AM on January 16, 2013


This is pretty damn ridiculous and juvenile.

If you want a particular body, just grow it in your basement lab. But be careful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:08 AM on January 16, 2013


The whole miracle of personality is expressed by means of appearance.

Believe it or not, my ability to conjugate Latin, to work with professors, and to teach children are expressed not at all by my willingness to wear makeup. I mean, I love makeup, it's like finger painting for adults, but I wear it maybe every other week, if that. But my face is not important, professionally. My brain and talents and degrees and experience are.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:12 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't doubt that if the makeup companies could figure out a way to open up the remaining ~49% of the population to their products, they would do so in a heartbeat. But they have so far been unable to do so. That's sort of interesting, because it suggests that there's more to the makeup issue than simply corporate propaganda. If it was just corporations creating a market where there wouldn't otherwise be one -- e.g. like Listerine did with mouthwash -- why would they stop at women? They wouldn't, I don't think.

The makeup companies are certainly taking full advantage of people's insecurities to sell products (not just makeup, but everything, all the time, whenever possible), but there is clearly something below the level at which corporate PR operates that is creating the perceived need, and they are then capitalizing on.

(If I was going to try and make a makeup product that I could sell to both men and women, I wouldn't call it makeup; I'd call it sunblock or moisturizer or something else instead, since there isn't a social stigma against heterosexual men using those. Perfume : Cologne :: Makeup : "Daily Use Tinted Sunblock"? )
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't see makeup as being terribly distinct from fashion. Both are tools for controlling how you'll be perceived, if you choose, likely leveraging your knowledge of social norms to either blend in or demonstrate non-conformity.

Personally, I wear at least a little makeup every day. I like how it makes me look -- whether that's because I objectively look better or because I've been taught that I look better that way doesn't really matter in the moment.

(High heels also make me feel like I look better, but they make my ankle problems act up and keep me from walking as quickly as I'd like. So I wear men's Dr. Martens with my mascara and don't worry about it. If I were simply caving to social pressure, I'd probably worry about it.)
posted by cranberry_nut at 11:18 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the next ten years, makeup for men (both "natural" blemish concealment and obvious stuff like eyeliner) is going to become much more mainstream.

Bullshit. I've heard that prediction semi-constantly since at least the mid-70's. And, certainly, some brave cosmetics firm puts something on the market once-in-awhile to test the waters, but it quickly dies. About the only "cosmetic" I've ever seen accepted in any form by mainstream men has been moisturizer.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:19 AM on January 16, 2013


Appearance takes "everything else" into account. The whole miracle of personality is expressed by means of appearance.

Actually, as a woman born, raised, and currently operating in American society, the definition of appearance for women in standard culture does not take that into account.

There is no expressive quality whatsoever about being required to shave your legs so that total strangers will not comment on it. There is no expressive quality in the idea that every day, to go out in public, you have to put on at least a certain amount of makeup. There is no expressive quality in the norm put out there that if you don't want to disgust a sexual partner, your pubic hair must be no more than ___ high and ___ long.

What I'm trying to say, in the gentlest way possible, that you have a very, very limited idea of the sort and intensity of beauty norms that American women are subject to. It ain't a question of kitten heels versus pumps. It's every last thing, and saying that the most important thing that a woman can offer is how many and which ones of those boxes she checks off?

It's going to make a lot of women angry.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [25 favorites]


WidgetAlley: I knew that this would come up, and I think you've expressed the idea really well.

The fact that appearance mattering means that skinny people are unfairly promoted is terrible; I agree. But, do you really think the answer is to take the nuclear approach and repudiate appearance? Another approach is to just do as the many people of all different shapes and sizes who have discovered how to present themselves best.

Your idea that "we can change our systems if we try" can never work for anything fundamentally human. Just as laws about daylight savings time or driving on the right work well, but proscribing drugs are impossibly ineffective. My experience is that appearance is a fundamental, and thus immutable, part of human nature, and so I don't believe you can ever change the world to ignore appearance.

Instead of trying to devalue appearance, I think it's natural to promote our strengths. When I mentioned that I find myself changing conversations in a competitive environment so that my strengths are valued, my girlfriend at the time said that it was "good narcissism". In that way, I think you can change the system, but only by making it more complicated. Of course, there will always be someone else who looks conventionally great who is trying to turn the conversation back to appearance. That's the nature of competition.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:23 AM on January 16, 2013


If a person refuses to conform to social norms, then they either come across as rebellious or lazy or too stupid to recognize the world around them (like a cat who won't or can't clean itself).

Wear make-up, ladies, lest people think you're a sick or injured animal.
posted by jess at 11:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


Hey, what's the unicode for "God bless your little heart" wherein it's clear you mean to say the hole you're digging doesn't have a bottom? Anyone?
posted by cheap paper at 11:28 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


There is no expressive quality whatsoever about being required to shave your legs so that total strangers will not comment on it.

This is slightly off-topic but this reminded me that I once had a conversation about women & leg-shaving with some *charming* individual who made the observation that, in his estimation, a woman with hair on her legs is objectively analogous to a man with foot fungus.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:29 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another approach is to just do as the many people of all different shapes and sizes who have discovered how to present themselves best.

One single question for you: Whose definition of best?

Because the definition of "attractive" has historically always been determined by the dominant class. Hence footbinding. Hence makeup. Hence skin bleaching. Hence tanning (did you notice how tanning became really popular when the only people who had time to go outside any more were those with enough money not to have to work indoors all day?) Attractiveness is not biologically determined, or at least not exclusively so. As long as we hang on to this notion of "attractiveness = better", we are simply handing tools to those in power.

Your idea that "we can change our systems if we try" can never work for anything fundamentally human.

I am leery of this idea, as I think many people are, because this has been used again and again to justify racism, xenophobia, sexism, religious intolerance, and about fifty gajillion (technical term there) ideas that have always had people leaping to their defense saying, "THEY'RE NATURAL!" What, exactly, do we lose by "pretending" that the world can be made more equal?
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:31 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


There is no expressive quality whatsoever about being required to shave your legs…

What I'm trying to say, in the gentlest way possible, that you have a very, very limited idea of the sort and intensity of beauty norms that American women are subject to…

It's going to make a lot of women angry.


I'm just relaying my experience, and I don't see why my experience should be a cause for anger. If I had to design a "fair" society, I wouldn't design it this way. But, I started off by saying "Let's not pretend the sky is orange", which was my way of saying let's say things as they are.

Also, we all have an idea of the intensity of beauty norms because we impose them on each other. You impose them on your partners, they impose them on you, and so on.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:31 AM on January 16, 2013


I'm just relaying my experience

This isn't true.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm just relaying my experience, and I don't see why my experience should be a cause for anger.

Because your experience is telling me that I need to look my "best" to succeed, when "best" is a term that "your experience" is defining.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for clearing that up for me! God knows I hate thinking for myself when there's no man around to tell me what to do!

Cheap shots like this are getting really old. Every man who has an opinion isn’t trying to tell you what to do, or gives a shit what you do. This isn’t a gender limited discussion, is it? If so maybe it should be somewhere else.
posted by bongo_x at 11:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've always felt makeup is a requirement for a professional look. It's annoying, and I wish it weren't so because I need makeup-free days to give my skin a break, but it is.

Wasn't there a study that determined that women who wore makeup in the workplace appear more competent?
posted by discopolo at 11:39 AM on January 16, 2013


WidgetAlley: Excellent points. I do have to go now, but I want to quickly respond.

I don't think that your picture of our society having men as a dominant class subjugating women to overvalue appearance is accurate. Women expect things of men, men of men, women of women. We're all in power by virtue of wanting things from each other.

Because your experience is telling me that I need to look my "best" to succeed, when "best" is a term that "your experience" is defining.

I'm relaying my experience about how I think the world is. I think the world is telling you that looking your "best" will help you succeed, and that "best" is defined according to the experience of others.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:40 AM on January 16, 2013


"I don't have the time everyday to put on makeup. I need that time to clean my rifle." ~Henriette Mantel
posted by susanvance at 11:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm relaying my experience about how I think the world is. I think the world is telling you that looking your "best" will help you succeed, and that "best" is defined according to the experience of others.

If you are a dude, then your experience about how you think the world is is unfortunately not entirely relevant to the reality of how actual women live in the world every day.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:45 AM on January 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


I've tried wearing makeup for parties and festivals, like whiskers, fake moustaches, etc. I'll inevitably destroy it, simply doesn't work.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:45 AM on January 16, 2013


discopolo: " Wasn't there a study that determined that women who wore makeup in the workplace appear more competent?"

Yes. When I was looking for blogs responding to the Times piece to include in this post, I came across some articles: Up the Career Ladder, Lipstick In Hand (NY Times) and Marie Claire: The Right Makeup to Advance at Work - Harvard Study on Effects of Office Makeup:
A little lipstick can go miles in the attraction department. But how can it—or a spot of mascara or blush—help you climb the ladder at work? Recent studies from Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and P&G Beauty (makers of CoverGirl) look at how varying styles of makeup can affect perception. "It plays into the power of adornment," says Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., the studies' lead author. "We've talked a lot about beauty's evolution and biology, but those are genetic givens. In this research, we proved that you can take those features and significantly alter how you're perceived—how much people like you, how confident you appear—using just makeup. It's really astonishing." What's more, a separate study in American Economic Review found that employers expect physically attractive workers to perform better and be more competent at their jobs. So how can you use makeup to your benefit? Here, Etcoff distills her findings and shares some career-building insights that have never been published, until now.

posted by zarq at 11:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


It would be so much easier if the extent of makeup I had to wear everyday to work was simply a fake mustache.
posted by troika at 11:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My experience is that appearance is a fundamental, and thus immutable, part of human nature, and so I don't believe you can ever change the world to ignore appearance.

Also, hold on a minute, why in GOD'S name should appearance ever matter outside of the context of sexual/romantic availability? Yes, you want your significant other to be attractive to you because the idea is you will produce offspring with them (or at least engage in the act that traditionally produces offspring.) Now give a decent reason why in the name of all that is holy that has any relevance whatsoever on a context like my performance at work, my acting ability, whether or not I am suited to lead people, my academic abilities, or anything else-- yet somehow being attractive affects all these things that have NOTHING to do with sex or mate selection.

I don't think that your picture of our society having men as a dominant class subjugating women to overvalue appearance is accurate.

Oh, really? Because a lot of research disagrees.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:53 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't wear makeup because it intereferes in the makin' out with my husband. Seriously, how does anyone plant a kiss that is more than a light peck with that stuff on? Otherwise it gets smeared on your partner.

Maybe this is not a major concern of other women, though.

I enjoy makeup-as-costume. I love watching those Halloween Youtube videos where women turn themselves into emo dudes with fake stubble and eyeliner, or a zombie or a skullface, or whatever with lots of makeup cleverly applied. This seems to be the most proper use of makeup, not the "me but slightly colored up a bit" stuff that most people think of. I like to wear eyeliner when Going Out but it only lasts until I forget not to wipe my eyes. Because makeup makes your face essentially untouchable, doesn't it? And you don't want to sweat or eat, either. Like with heels, you end up trading the ability to have fun for the ability to look like (some people's version of) Acceptable.

Sigh. "Feminine" clothes (high heels, straight skirts, fitted dresses) are not inherently uncomfortable, if they are well-fitted and well-made. Seriously, if your clothes are uncomfortable, it's because they do not fit you, not because the patriarchy has got you down.

Or, you know, you're too broke to buy the comfy versions of Girlie Clothes. But even then, not. Even the best made skirt in the world is still a skirt and you still can't kick too high or stop worrying about breezes flipping it up.

I mean, to each their own. I think a lot of people enjoy the costume and I have no beef with that at all. I do too, just not all the time.
posted by emjaybee at 11:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you know. I've been fitted for bespoke couture and if you are telling me that this means these items of clothing should therefore be just as comfortable as track pants and a sports bra, you are a whole new level of wrong.
posted by elizardbits at 11:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Economic exploitation? Yep. It's an industry: Tell women they're ugly, then sell them the cure.

That's almost certainly the truth. Somehow adornment became psuedo-necessity.

We have deodorant today because marketing people convinced the masses they don't want to smell like dirty immigrants.
posted by Foosnark at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2013


Funny, I have to go to specialty stores to buy makeup because they NEVER have enough options for women of color in the drugstores. This is always my complaint.

Every time I read discussions like this I always end up more confused than I was before. I like wearing makeup and shaving, but do I really like it for how it makes me look and feel, or am I just being brainwashed and trying to impress other people?
posted by girlmightlive at 12:04 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


WidgetAlley: " Also, hold on a minute, why in GOD'S name should appearance ever matter outside of the context of sexual/romantic availability? Yes, you want your significant other to be attractive to you because the idea is you will produce offspring with them (or at least engage in the act that traditionally produces offspring.) Now give a decent reason why in the name of all that is holy that has any relevance whatsoever on a context like my performance at work, my acting ability, whether or not I am suited to lead people, my academic abilities, or anything else-- yet somehow being attractive affects all these things that have NOTHING to do with sex or mate selection."

I can't speak for esprit, and to be honest I'm a little wary of dipping into this conversation, but it might be a good idea to differentiate between 'appearance' and 'attractiveness' here. Because the former, devoid of sexual and gender issues, can certainly be a factor in superficially determining whether someone is competent or not at their job. I mean, if your chef looks like he last bathed three weeks ago, you're probably not going to think of him as the best person to be preparing your food. :)

I don't mean to muddy the waters in any way. Just thought I'd mention it.
posted by zarq at 12:05 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't wear makeup because it intereferes in the makin' out with my husband. Seriously, how does anyone plant a kiss that is more than a light peck with that stuff on? Otherwise it gets smeared on your partner.

Yeah, my husband hates kissing when I'm wearing lipstick.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:08 PM on January 16, 2013


Good point, zarq. I can definitely see appearance in terms of hygeine mattering where it has practical consequences (I would prefer that my coworkers don't have lice, for instance!)

Also this seems like a really good roundup of some of the research on the issue.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:09 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, absolutely. No one wants to see that the person handling their food has long, filthy, scraggly fingernails, for example. There is definitely an important distinction to be made there. And no one of any gender should show up at a job interview smeared with last night's Four Loko bender vomit, obviously. But when "wearing makeup and heels" = "this person is a better worker than someone in a different outfit" then we have a problem.

And by "we" I mean humanity, not just women.
posted by elizardbits at 12:09 PM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm beginning to understand why many women don the burqa.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:18 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


If a person refuses to conform to social norms, then they either come across as rebellious or lazy or too stupid to recognize the world around them (like a cat who won't or can't clean itself)

I love being compared to incontinent cats. Because this comparison totally makes sense when talking about women who don't wear makeup. If you don't wear makeup, it's like you're covered in pee!
posted by zennish at 12:20 PM on January 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


I don't wear makeup because it intereferes in the makin' out with my husband. Seriously, how does anyone plant a kiss that is more than a light peck with that stuff on? Otherwise it gets smeared on your partner.

Yeah, I'm glad my wife doesn't wear makeup for this reason. It smells funny, too.

At my workplace (elementary school, so mostly women), people wear it or don't wear it and it's not an issue (actually, I probably wouldn't notice, but I do know that one person does not.) Hell, the administration tried to get people not to wear flip flops, and the compromise was no flip flops unless they have a bauble glued to the top; fancy flip flops are ok.

I took that to mean that the no-jeans policy was flexible, too, and lo and behold...

I'm tempted to try out the fancy flip flops... maybe glue a little Gamera figure on those things...

Union job, though, YMMV.
posted by Huck500 at 12:22 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Union job, though, YMMV

aka THE RED MENACE

posted by elizardbits at 12:24 PM on January 16, 2013


Yes, absolutely. No one wants to see that the person handling their food has long, filthy, scraggly fingernails, for example. There is definitely an important distinction to be made there. And no one of any gender should show up at a job interview smeared with last night's Four Loko bender vomit, obviously. But when "wearing makeup and heels" = "this person is a better worker than someone in a different outfit" then we have a problem.

I think it's often more like this: "We want the impression our clients receive to be one of successful professionals. We don't want them to look at you and think you are not a successful professional, who can't afford to dress herself." or "We want people to come to our bar because pretty ladies are serving drinks, and it makes them feel important to be surrounded by pretty ladies." or "We want people who sell clothes in our store to be fashionably dressed, because we want people to think that if they buy our clothes, they too can look fashionably dressed."
posted by corb at 12:24 PM on January 16, 2013


Thinking about makeup being a benefit in the workplace is a pretty funny thing to think about, for me. I've definitely worked in places where that was the case, but now I think I work in one of the few workplaces where I feel almost uncomfortable wearing it, which is funny because I barely wear makeup outside of work.

I'm a park ranger. On my first day at my last park, my (gigantic, male, ex-Marine)boss actually commented that the amount of makeup I was wearing was "acceptable and fine" and I was literally wearing concealer, blush, and light mascara. Then later in the season brought up that he wasn't ok with the colors of nail polish I had been wearing (which were mostly greys and navy blue). Our uniform handbook actually has an extensive section regarding makeup but it all reads so nebulous to me: colors should be "subdued" but to me grey IS subdued so uh.. The answer would seem to be "Well just don't wear makeup then! Awesome!" and at first I did that but it was weird. I'm a bisexual woman in a hetero relationship who presents as somewhat butch in "normal life" and I live in the Bay Area and definitely "look" like I live in the Bay Area. A lot of people think I'm a lesbian based on how I present, which is fine, but ad what is basically a cop uniform (an ill-fitting one at that) on top of that and it just became this weird alternate universe I was living in every day. All of the other women I worked with had long hair and these sort of "outdoorsy-fresh-healthy glow" looks and here's me with my super short, dark hair, all pale and ethnic-looking and it seriously did effect the way that members of the public interacted with me. And so I started wearing makeup, even though no one else I worked with did. And I think it made my coworkers confused and sort of put me on the "outside" in terms of them thinking that I took my job less seriously than they did. I definitely felt that from some of my superiors. (In fact the nail polish thing was brought up in my final review before my season was over, so I'm not just imagining it.)

So basically what I'm saying is, unless you're naturally "feminine" or choose to present in a feminine way by having long hair, etc...be prepared for none of the boy scout troop leaders to want their kids to have you answer their questions.

Or more seriously, I like makeup, but feeling like you must/mustn't ever wear it for whatever job you have sucks.
posted by primalux at 12:28 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I also want to respond to the outmoded idea that women wear makeup to attract men... But I do not specifically pencil in those brows because I know it'll really turn on my guy. In that respect I think I do these things far more for the women who will notice specific things I do.

I don't know, I certainly believe this is true for you, but to me this argument has always sounded like, "I don't know or care about the specific products that the workers who clean my office use, therefore they're just doing it to impress other workers who clean offices." Part of privilege is not having to think about the specifics.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:19 PM on January 16 [3 favorites +] [!]

Part of privilege is not having to think about the specifics.

This, a million times. I have heard general commentary on makeup from plenty of men on plenty of occasions. Both complaining about women who wear makeup (without realizing that women going for the "natural look" are actually wearing makeup) and about women who don't wear makeup (viewing all those women going about bare-faced as being underdressed). They really don't know a thing about the specifics of what varieties of makeup are applied, nor do they have to.
posted by asperity at 6:25 PM on January 16 [+] [!]


I am confused. Serious question: how is this an example of privilege? How are women the privilege holders in the whole makeup discussion?
posted by olinerd at 12:30 PM on January 16, 2013


olinerd, many men think that a "natural look" = "no makeup." Many women do not think this way, because they have internalized what goes into creating that "natural look." Many men are unaware of, do not have to think about, those specifics.
posted by troika at 12:32 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love makeup. My husband hates makeup. I don't wear makeup most of the time so that my husband will find me attractive instead of complaining about my makeup. I am doing things wrong somehow.

But the whole "oh, this is just about being professional" argument is nonsense. Not every woman can wear makeup. Not every woman can wear high heels. I'm not talking about preferences here, I'm talking about physical limitations. Surely people with hyperallergic skin can be just as professional in an office as people whose skin is fine with pigments and emollients and minerals? Surely people with wonky metatarsals who need to wear orthotic shoes can be just as professional as people whose footbones are up to the challenge of stilettos?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:35 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I so wish I hadn't been crammed in meetings all day.

I don't wear makeup. The only times I have ever worn makeup have been for awards ceremonies and graduation (high school only) or for prom--all scenarios in which I was stuck living with my mom, and which involved (literally) her chasing me around the house with a glob of foundation on a makeup sponge while we screamed at each other about how wrong the other one was.


the only people that ever pointed it out to me in a negative light were men, and always in a "you'd be so much prettier if you..." way. Fuck you, dude.

That's funny, because the only people who have every pointed it out to me, period, have been other women, and I spend the vast majority of my time (work and personal) around men. Only guys I have been very, very close to (read: in a relationship with, related to, or see-each-other-daily-best-friends) have even noticed, and usually only then to say, "oh...huh...ok."

But maybe I spend my time around different kinds of dudes.
posted by phunniemee at 12:39 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to wear makeup a lot, for fun, when I was in my early-mid twenties. Then I gave it up because it got no longer fun, except for special occasions. Then I had kids and gave it up entirely, along with shaving my legs and my armpits, because I just did not care and I didn't want to spend the time and I don't love the message it sends about beauty to my kid as she grows up.

Then I landed a performance gig with a makeup requirement. (The makeup requirement is couched as being for the purposes of being able to see the faces of the performers, but it's only for women, not for men.) Whatever, it's annoying but not worth fighting, so I went to go get more makeup; at this point, all my old makeup was 10 years old and either polymerizing or a petri dish.

1) For a "face kit" consisting of small sizes of primer, concealer, foundation, and powder, plus a lipstick, eyeliner and mascara, I spent ninety dollars. When I went back and bought a few other lipsticks plus eyeshadow, I spent an additional fifty dollars. This is for a pretty minimal kit, and not tremendously high-end products, either.

2) The first day I wore this makeup, I was offered a paid, ongoing performance job by one of my colleagues. Whom I had been singing next to for months, and the job had been open for most of that time.

So now, guess what? I wear makeup to all my rehearsals, as well as all my performances. This is a tough industry, I'll take the boost. But I resent it.
posted by KathrynT at 12:41 PM on January 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't wear makeup because it intereferes in the makin' out with my husband. Seriously, how does anyone plant a kiss that is more than a light peck with that stuff on? Otherwise it gets smeared on your partner.

Yeah, my husband hates kissing when I'm wearing lipstick.


Really? My husband loves making out when I've got a full face of makeup on. Then again he is a professional Robert Smith impersonator.

I have lots of conflicting feelings on the makeup front. I love wearing it, but often don't have the time. When I first started dating my husband, he kept telling me that he didn't think I needed to wear so much eyeshadow and such until I explained to him that I wasn't wearing all that black eye makeup for him, I was wearing it for myself.

I spent many many years devoted to a high-maintenance makeup look: Goth. This meant every day I would not leave the house until I put on foundation, concealer, powder, full eye makeup with gradations of color from black to silver, lipliner and lipstick. Sometimes glitter, bindis and false lashes too. All to look pretty much as far from what's deemed socially acceptable for women in mainstream society. Most days I don't wear any makeup at all now that I'm getting old, but when I do want to put it on, I don't bother to try looking "natural". If I'm going to spend the time on artifice, why not revel in its artificiality? Other than an interest in makeup I regularly "fail" as a woman. Wearing an off-putting aesthetic like this has resulted in years of clueless bros trying to give me permission to wear less makeup. What they really meant is that I should have been wearing more standard makeup.

That said, I have walked out of a job interview when told that there was a specific mandatory makeup "look" I'd be required to wear. So, I guess that while I enjoy the performative aspects of makeup, I've got to agree that using makeup to make oneself "acceptable" as a woman sucks. It's a fact of Western life but I wish it weren't.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:42 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


olinerd, many men think that a "natural look" = "no makeup." Many women do not think this way, because they have internalized what goes into creating that "natural look." Many men are unaware of, do not have to think about, those specifics.

Okay. My confusion is I was called out for privilege, but I am a woman and I guess based on the responses I'm not sure whether or not that part was clear to the responders. I get that men don't have to think about the specifics. I don't see how that contradicts my original called-out statement that men tend not to notice the specifics, so if I do happen to do anything differently with my makeup it's usually because I perceive from other women that I ought to be doing it, not because I feel like men think I should. Thus my original point, that I put on makeup *at all* to be perceived as "put together" by society at large (including men), but that specific things I feel like I need to do in addition to the very base "natural look" -- like filling in my brows -- I do because of perception from women.

I'm not justifying anything, and if women are judging me on my makeup it's because society (which is male-dominated) has created a "correct" look that women familiar with makeup are likely to enforce more strictly. But in the current question of "do women do this stuff for other women or to attract men"... I feel the judgement of other women on the specifics of my makeup far more keenly than I do the judgement of men.

The binary "makeup or no" question, without a doubt, is heavily influenced by men telling me I look tired/sick/whatever if I don't wear it. But the degree to which I feel I am or am not doing it *right* is heavily influenced by other women.

I don't know if this makes sense or not.
posted by olinerd at 12:43 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


> The whole miracle of personality is expressed by means of appearance.

Oh FFS. Personality is expressed by means of words and actions, only some tiny fraction of which are actions relating to one's appearance. The thing which is most strongly expressed by appearance is one's role in a particular social context, not one's personality. There's a reason certain professions wear uniforms. There's a reason "interview attire" is a thing. There's a reason we dress differently when going out to a nice restaurant than when going to McD's. There's a reason I choose more "professorly" clothes now instead of looking like a grad student, even though my professional responsibilities haven't really changed much. Hell, there's a reason we refer to playing our various social roles as "wearing my [role] hat." It all has nothing to do with personality.

> The way a person presents himself or herself reveals the rich internal world, which you and I both value.

If you believe that, you're missing out on a lot of wonderful human richness lurking beneath people's (constrained) fashion choices...

> (To tie this to sex, people who follow all the norms tend to be boring in bed not even knowing what they want let alone doing it, whereas people who follow none of the norms are poor listeners doing none of what you want.)

... and you're probably missing out on some pretty phenomenal sex as well.
posted by Westringia F. at 12:45 PM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


olinerd, I'm not sure that was aimed at you -- at least, I think the privilege in question is of not having to know a thing about the specifics of makeup but still getting to enjoy the benefits (more ornamental people around you, I suppose) and hold opinions about it. Similar to being able to enjoy a clean office without having to know how it got that way.
posted by asperity at 12:51 PM on January 16, 2013


I would think that the answer to the question would have much to do with whether or not the woman believes that the make-up is necessary f/or an improvement over her sans-makeup face.
posted by spock at 12:51 PM on January 16, 2013


whether or not the woman believes that the make-up is necessary f/or an improvement over her sans-makeup face.

An improvement in what sense?
posted by KathrynT at 12:55 PM on January 16, 2013


An improvement in what sense?


Well, when I give a presentation or I'm otherwise sort of the person in charge of a meeting or other gathering, I often wear eyeliner (which I don't typically) because it brings more attention to my eyes, and I want everyone with their eyes on mine as I speak. To me that's an improvement not because my face is hideously ugly, but because the response I get to it helps me communicate better with people.

An alternative, less empowering example is how I wear foundation all the time for professional gatherings because I have unevenly toned skin and occasional recurrent acne, despite being close to 30, and as a young-ish woman in a male-dominated field I don't want to look any younger with my zits. So covering them up, in my opinion, makes it less likely I'll be mistaken for a someone younger with less experience.
posted by olinerd at 12:58 PM on January 16, 2013


I should point out, my question wasn't meant to be aggressive, just to open up the idea of context.

Olinerd, do you think it would be just as advantageous for a man to wear eyeliner during a presentation? The communications issues are surely present regardless, right?
posted by KathrynT at 1:03 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm curious. How come there's more argument over makeup than hair? Is there much greater pressure for women to keep their hair an acceptable length than to wear makeup? If it's easier to go without make up, wouldn't it also be easier to just have much, much shorter hair?
posted by FJT at 1:04 PM on January 16, 2013


Meh. This is just the NYT trollin' as usual. This topic is presented in a way to be anxiety producing.

None of the "experts" presented really seem interested in looking at beauty in a different way. I wonder what high-femme lesbians or a transgendered women would have added to this discussion about how beauty standards are used and experienced by women. Or more women of color. Or women who don't work at white collar or office environments. Or women who just don't give a crap. And I don't think a single expert actually worked for a makeup company. I would love to hear how they would sell makeup in way that doesn't exploit women's insecurities about the way our society focuses on how women look.

But really, the question is asked in a bad way. Does make-up damage a woman's self esteem? Who can really answer that question but each individual woman? And how do I answer that question in a meaningful way that doesn't call out somebody else? If I say "Well, I don't wear makeup..." people who do are put on the spot as if there's something wrong with it (and vice versa). Appearances are important and will always be important on some level. How appearances matter is worth debating and talking about in an intelligent way.

Better, more interesting, questions the NYT might have asked include: Have beauty standards changed enough to include women of all sizes and beauty persuasions? How does one go about changing cultural beauty standards? What notions about beauty did you come up with on your own and what did you parents teach you? What parts of family and social "beauty standards" did you reject and why? What are you parents teaching your daughters and sons about beauty?
posted by Misty_Knightmare at 1:04 PM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi > Pretty much every exchange of body-related commentary I've ever experienced has been with other women. Women seem to be the ones who care about whether I shave my legs or not, whether I pluck my eyebrows or not, if I've put on weight or am really going to eat that or where I bought my eye shadow.

phunniemee > That's funny, because the only people who have every pointed it out to me, period, have been other women, and I spend the vast majority of my time (work and personal) around men.

olinerd > I feel the judgement of other women on the specifics of my makeup far more keenly than I do the judgement of men.

This has been my experience as well. In fact, going from a highly male-dominated academic department (~10% women) to one that was more balanced (~40%), I suddenly felt an obligation to wear make-up that I'd never felt before. It really surprised me; for the first time, I felt that I was being judged on my appearance in a professional setting, and the more equitable-on-paper department actually seems much less equitable in practice. Women in my current environment sometimes ask me what it was like being a woman in my previous male-dominated setting, and I bite my tongue because I still haven't figured out how to say, "actually, it was easier there, and it's the women here who are making it hard."
posted by Westringia F. at 1:08 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Olinerd, do you think it would be just as advantageous for a man to wear eyeliner during a presentation? The communications issues are surely present regardless, right?

If a guy in my meeting was wearing eyeliner you can bet my coworkers and I would be paying a whole lot of attention to him trying to figure out what was going on there. Though that's unfortunately largely for vaguely homophobic reasons also perpetuated by the patriarchy. I do think the novelty would wear off after the first time though.

But I do see your point. And the answer is no, men don't have to wear eyeliner to have the attention they want paid to them that they need to when they speak. But I feel as though I do, because I'm often at a disadvantage in my field simply by virtue of being female (and relatively young). I also am still fairly privileged, since while I am nowhere near supermodel material I am for the most part what people would consider conventionally attractive, so eyeliner on my eyes does indeed enhance them at make them more interesting to look at which does get me the eyes-on-mine effect that I want for the interactions. It won't work for everyone. But for me, it's something I'll do because I can get the reaction I want out of it while still feeling like I get to keep my feminist card. (As opposed to wearing a low-cut shirt, say, which would get me attention but not the sort I'm interested in)
posted by olinerd at 1:10 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a TON of argument over hair length, FJT, but that would be better in another thread, one that wasn't specifically about makeup.

It's also more complicated in terms of intersectionality (black women's hair and black men's hair are both 'policed' by workplace fashion standards in really offensive ways; men with religion-observant hairstyles have been disciplined by employers; women who have lost hair because of illness have been fired for not wearing wigs).
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2013


I'm curious. How come there's more argument over makeup than hair? Is there much greater pressure for women to keep their hair an acceptable length than to wear makeup? If it's easier to go without make up, wouldn't it also be easier to just have much, much shorter hair?

If you're black, definitely. My hair has been commented upon and criticized in ways a million times more obvious than whether or not I wear makeup. My brother has gone through the same thing with his hair, as well.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2013


would be just as advantageous for a man to wear eyeliner during a presentation? The communications issues are surely present regardless, right?

As someone who gives a lot of presentations I suspect that the eyeliner thing would work for a man as well, but unless it was literally so subtle as to be subconscious, then you'd have to deal with people in the audience wondering "why the fuck is that dude wearing eyeliner?" and unless you are David Bowie that is probably not a good thing to have your audience wondering.

In other words, you crash very quickly into male gender-role policing, the arguable flip-side of misogyny, which can be fairly unpleasant in its own right.

Another example would be that despite height carrying a huge and well-documented status / power bonus among men, very few men go down the obvious route of adding a few inches by wearing elevator shoes or heel lifts; the potential embarrassment of being caught apparently outweighing the benefits. (The one exception, outside theatrical / performance contexts, being cowboy or motorcycle boots where the heel is arguably functional, or at least traditional.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Women in my current environment sometimes ask me what it was like being a woman in my previous male-dominated setting, and I bite my tongue because I still haven't figured out how to say, "actually, it was easier there, and it's the women here who are making it hard."

That's really interesting, a professor friend and I just submitted some stuff (intentionally nebulous here) on how, when women achieve success, they often hang on to that success by hanging on to the dominant norms even more tightly than the men do. It's something you see a lot in academic feminism; "I made it the tough way so now you have to as well." And then they consolidate and stabilize their position by being good little enforcers of the norms and broadcasting to their colleagues, "See! I'm just like you! I can stomp on the opppressed as well!" I can definitely see how an all-male department might be easier, due to more solidified positions in the hierarchy that don't need defending through copying the system.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:19 PM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've worn makeup, but remain a complete clueless beginner at it. I mostly used to wear it to special occasion-y type things - interviews, weddings, fancy work presentations in front of big name clients - before I realized that a) shit, do I suck at applying makeup, b) the whole "oh my god there's something on my face, I can't stop touching my face, oh shit, I just rubbed my eyes again" thing was NOT flattering, and c) I have pretty good skin, unless I wear makeup, in which case I break out like crazy.

So this is just my experience, but when I stopped wearing makeup, I immediately felt so much more confident in those types of situations, particularly professional ones. I'm someone who looks 5-6 years younger than I am, and I've done a lot of work as a strategy consultant, usually working with people way more senior than me. When I walk into a room, I don't for a second want my client to doubt that I'm both professional & 100% focused on finding solution to their problems. I keep my best clients by being as (tactfully) honest as possible - so no makeup is just another piece of my contrarian arsenal. If I'm standing up in a boardroom telling a CEO that I think his assumptions are flawed, then no offense, but the last thing I want to look like is a 25 year old girl in an empty suit who spent a ton of time that morning making sure I've put on a pretty face... or worse, like a 22 year old who can't stop touching her fucking eyeshadow. Plus, I'm there to solve a problem, not to look pretty, anyway.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:19 PM on January 16, 2013


In other words, you crash very quickly into male gender-role policing, the arguable flip-side of misogyny, which can be fairly unpleasant in its own right.

FWIW, I wouldn't call that the arguable flip-side of misogyny, I would call that straight up misogyny. And yes, it is unpleasant and poisonous, and it is damaging, to men as well as women.
posted by KathrynT at 1:21 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is this the place where we share makeup tips? I like Everyday Minerals - relatively cheap for the quality of stuff you can get. Powder everything is the way to go, anything else feels disgusting and smells bad and makes my skin condition worse.

I started wearing makeup after I came out as gay, oddly enough. Before then I resented having to to work hard so men I wasn't attracted to could give me attention I didn't want. Now I do it because I want to be viewed as an object of sexual desire (by other women).

Overall I think that wearing makeup is a more expensive way to care for your appearance than eating right, getting enough sleep, getting enough exercise, and drinking water. But it also takes a lot less time and is more "fun" (if you like that sort of thing).

Anyway I think the more society revolves around dealing with other people (rather than setting up your homestead or working with machines), the more looking good for others matters. As population density rises in the US and competition for resources (jobs, mates) becomes more fierce, standards for personal appearance will rise for both men and women. It's completely inevitable so there's no point moralizing about it.
posted by subdee at 1:24 PM on January 16, 2013


Women in my current environment sometimes ask me what it was like being a woman in my previous male-dominated setting, and I bite my tongue because I still haven't figured out how to say, "actually, it was easier there, and it's the women here who are making it hard."

This has kind of been my experience, too. It's totally depressing to feel more comfortable presenting makeupless to a room full of white men over 50 than a client meeting that has any kind of actual gender parity (nevermind actual diversity). But I'm also aware that a lot of it's in my own head vs. theirs, necessarily, so I try to keep that in mind and not go assigning blame for my own dumb assumptions.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:25 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]



I don't wear a lot of make-up when I go out. I use moisturizer with sunscreen most every day and have for years so it's easy enough to use a tinted one. The BB cream stuff that has recently come out is great. I couldn't be bothered to do anything elaborate with foundation so these 'many in one' creams are cheap and quick.
Other then that I'll wear a tinted lip gloss or something else light and sometimes a bit of eyeliner.

Anything more elaborate is for special occasions but even then elaborate for me is some sort of blended eye shadow and mascara.

I don't have any issue not wearing makeup. I don't always bother if I'm just running errands and if I'm late for work and don't have time it doesn't cause a panic or anything.

I just like wearing a little. In a way I think it's bit of psychological divide that I like.One is going out me and this is stay at home relax me. Plus it can be fun.

Oh I will and did go heavier on the make-up, especially eye make-up when I was doing a lot of public speaking, especially if it was under lights. The same idea as actors in theatre (though not as heavy) do in order for my face and eyes to have more definition.
posted by Jalliah at 1:43 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Misty_Knightmare: " And I don't think a single expert actually worked for a makeup company.

Actually Mally Roncal, who authored this essay, founded a cosmetics company called Mally Beauty a few years ago.
posted by zarq at 1:43 PM on January 16, 2013


wearing makeup is a more expensive way to care for your appearance than eating right, getting enough sleep, getting enough exercise, and drinking water. But it also takes a lot less time

Absolutely. And the jobs that make it hard to do all those self-care things are often also jobs in which appearance may count for more than it does when you've got a fancy high-skills job where you're respected for your mind.
posted by asperity at 1:44 PM on January 16, 2013


jetlagaddict: The whole miracle of personality is expressed by means of appearance.

Believe it or not, my ability to conjugate Latin, to work with professors, and to teach children are expressed not at all by my willingness to wear makeup.
I'll give you "ability to conjugate Latin" as being independent from your willingness to wear makeup, but there is considerable data showing that one's appearance affects their interactions with others, so I'd have to go with "the latter two are almost certainly affected by your personal appearance, which in turn is affected by your willingness to wear makeup."

Cite. Cite. Cite (specifically addressing makeup use by women).

You're going to have to provide a double-blind experiment to prove otherwise, with a considerable sample size. Good luck.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:51 PM on January 16, 2013


I came to this discussion thinking I had a fixed opinion and initially sat here rolling my eyes. But as I've read through the comments, I am beginning to think the problem is more complex.
It's a great post, but the links are not nearly as good as the comments here. Maybe because the people in the links are like myself, too narrow-minded?
Anyway, I've suddenly understood how make-up is a number of different things.
There is what most people understand as make-up: the thick stuff in the heads of girls who resemble Victorias Secret models. This is definitely meant to attract men, and it works for certain women and certain men. For ages I didn't understand it because it ran counter to my personal experience, but after a long conversation with a male colleague, I kind of got it: too much make-up clearly signals that you want male attention and that you have low self-esteem and are easy to manipulate or maybe buy. What's not to love? Actually, my colleague is a nice guy, he only fantasizes this way.
Then there is what a lot of people here are talking about: make-up as a signifier of conformity and order. The reason Hilary Clinton wears make-up. This type of make-up is often barely visible. It does have a practical function, because it moderates the effects of bad lighting and TV-lighting, which is relevant for the women who do this. And men. We notice the orange guys, like Boehner, but a lot more male politicians and TV anchors use make-up and are better at it. This has almost nothing to do with sex and/or gender.
THen there are the youth-culture things, from punk, goth and glam to more discreet things like young boys and girls experimenting with their appearance. This can be heaven and it can be hell. When I was a teen, some of the people wearing a lot of make-up were the most confident and mature among us, and some of them were suicidal and had huge issues. It wasn't easy for an outsider to tell the difference. There are probably more variations, but this is what I picked up from the discussion and could relate to my own experience.
In my own experience, I never wore make-up when I was young up to 45, and I seemed to have a good time and a fine career anyway. None of my friends wore make-up either, regardless of their profession. Well except the men, who were quite into make-up.
Now, I am often speaking to large groups of people in bad lighting, and also I want to look conservative, so I wear make-up, but the kind that many people describe as no make-up.
In some parts of the US (and the rest of the world), make-up really is a part of the societal submission of women. So it is fair enough to have the discussion. But in other parts of the US and the world, it isn't. So the people here who are protesting that the argument is silly are right too. Sometimes these "parts of the world" are mere blocks apart, but still, the populations barely meet.
posted by mumimor at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


>>whether or not the woman believes that the make-up is
necessary f/or an improvement over her sans-makeup face.

An improvement in what sense?

You would have to ask the individual women, but I suspect that there might be a wide range of answers that they might give.
posted by spock at 1:54 PM on January 16, 2013


asperity: And the jobs that make it hard to do all those self-care things are often also jobs in which appearance may count for more than it does when you've got a fancy high-skills job where you're respected for your mind.
Not sure I agree there. High-skills jobs tend to have benefits like flex-time, higher salaries, and more vacation time, all of which make eating healthier, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly easier.

In the US, for instance, poverty is highly correlated with fewer healthy food options (both groceries and local take-out). Working single mothers, who skew lower in income and job skills (a knife that has more than two edges, in fact), also have less time for exercise and sleep.

I agree that makeup can be used as a proxy for the appearance of good health, but it's still a tool that is (somewhat) more available to the wealthy than the poor.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:56 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


crush-onastick: "FWIW, by "uncomfortable", I do not mean "ill-suited to your needs to the extent that you feel uncomfortable wearing it". By "uncomfortable" I mean "pinchy" or "something you can't breath in" or "leaving marks on your skin when you remove it"--I mean the actual feeling of the garment against your body, not how you feel as measured by what you're able to do wearing a thing. Perhaps that's too narrow a definition."

No. Just, no. High heeled shoes, by definition harm your feet, your ankles, your entire spine. Fitted clothing, by definition, lays close to the skin, and depending on the garment, may require specific underwear (aka a bra and/or certain styles of knickers) and almost always binds the abdominal region. You are never able to have full range of movement in a truly fitted suit/pencil skirt, without damaging it. It can be comfortable for a certain value of comfortable meaning 'not actively painful' or 'my body has formed itself around my clothes/shoes and now I cannot wear flat shoes' but that is by no means a universal.

I rarely wear makeup, except for the big ones mentioned by most women above and also when my mother-in-law is lurking with her camera (I am shiny as fuck, so I tamp that with powder which makes me look like death unless I also put colour on my lips/eyes). I don't do nailpolish. Yet, I very nearly asked my friend if she was sick, the one time I saw her without makeup because I had adjusted so readily to her 'look' that I couldn't parse the absence as anything else (I caught myself before I said anything, thankfully). It's pernicious, and everywhere.

The last time I got fullface done (my sisters wedding) my daughter did not recognise me; my hair was out and long, I had false eyelashes, no glasses, perfume, long dress, the whole lot. She just absolutely dismissed me, like I was a stranger. I couldn't help but feel how weird it must be to go to similar lengths every day, to take off and put on a mask effectively, over what you really actually do look like. In the end, my daughter realised it was me after I spoke, and her dad hugged me, but she maintains a fascination with makeup - she loves to watch my friends apply it, or those rare occasions when I do, and I can't help but feel that's a good grounding for her. This is armour sweetheart, this is glamour, this is an act you choose to do in order to change how the world sees you but not how we see you, we the ones who love you.

(And I cannot STAND men who tell me women look better without makeup - they rarely have any concept of what that actually means)
posted by geek anachronism at 1:59 PM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


kamizazegopher: Having worked in cleanrooms for years where makeup was not allowed, it has become my habit not wear it. The longer it's been since I've worn makeup, the more alien the concept of it has become. Really? I am expected to paint my face with different colors for different parts to attract mates? It's just so... primitive sounding.

St. Alia of the Bunnies: I like makeup. I like decoration. I like how I look in it. So why not?

bearwife: Neither. It is just a work/professional thing to wear it, like suits and heels and pearls. None of which I need to feel self esteem, but all of which are pretty standard in my workplace.

Whoa whoa hold up BREAKING NEWS GUYS

Different women have different opinions on this?!?! Things affect different women in different ways? There might actually be no way to figure out what effect something like makeup 'ultimately' has on women? Could it be possible that...there is actually no secret truth of What Women Want or How Women Should Feel About Things?

SOMEONE ALERT THE PRESSES no never mind they won't listen
posted by capricorn at 1:59 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


(By the way the look I (a woman) find most attractive is very light makeup on women and men; I do think to a certain extent covering up blemishes, etc, is part of workplace hygiene the same way wearing semi-uncomfortable clothes that have a more professional look to them is (but that's just my opinion, man))
posted by capricorn at 2:01 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think you alert presses. They aren't cognizant. You could stop the presses though.
posted by found missing at 2:03 PM on January 16, 2013


I have to say, that waay back in the day ( salad ), my friends and I worshipped the likes of Boy George, Siouxsie, Adam Ant, punks in the UK, you get it. We would not be got Dead ( especially if one was Goth ) with out proper frocks and a painted up face that could make A Two Bit Hussy gush. We were costuming, it was very important to be as extreme as possible in art of fabulous make up to shock our fellow pedestrians on the bus in broad daylight. We accentuated by dying our hair to any color in the rainbow! Much like these kewl kids of today! Nowadays, the only thing I gotta wash off my face at night is dirt, paint, grease, and soot (occupation/art hazard ). When im just roaming about my life, I would not be caught dead with make up on! Yuck! I love that I know and see lots of women that dont wear makeup. First, they are gorgeous and confident in their own skin, which in turn exudes Brains, which in turn is just plain sexy IMHO.
But, I also think a lot of women just enjoy the ritual of make up and evev the art of it ( make up artists? performers?). And I think there are many, many, not so good reasons women wear make up. Also, I like the idea of men wearing make up and using that as a tool to feel empowered. Like, why does it have to be that pink/blue thing...yaaaarrrr!
posted by SteelDancin at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom: "You're going to have to provide a double-blind experiment to prove otherwise, with a considerable sample size. Good luck."

Unless you're my doctoral advisor, I would tend to disagree with you.
posted by boo_radley at 2:10 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Freedom ends with the individual. Society is a collection of individuals, and — like you — those individuals are free to value what they please."

LOL at radical individualism and Randian "Whatchagonnado" about amoral capitalism and competition being brought to a social issues discussion.
posted by klangklangston at 2:10 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


boo_radley: IAmBroom: "You're going to have to provide a double-blind experiment to prove otherwise, with a considerable sample size. Good luck."

Unless you're my doctoral advisor, I would tend to disagree with you.
That's fine. Most people strongly believe things that hard, cold data disproves. Looks tend to have an effect on how someone is treated - even if your advisor and you agree that you're unlike all the other humans on Earth.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:13 PM on January 16, 2013


I agree that makeup can be used as a proxy for the appearance of good health, but it's still a tool that is (somewhat) more available to the wealthy than the poor.

I think I agree with you, IAmBroom -- I phrased that confusingly. It's easier to do all the things that make you look conventionally attractive if you're wealthy and have high-skills jobs with benefits like flex time and health care. And it may be easier to get by without doing some of those beauty-enhancing things if you're in a high-skills job where you've got less need to differentiate yourself from others by appearance (because your skills are sufficiently useful).

So if you're poor, generally speaking you've got both less access to the appearance-enhancing stuff and more need for it to improve your standing in the workplace.
posted by asperity at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2013


I don't think I've seen this idea here yet: makeup allows brains to trump chance attractiveness.

Beauty is a way of perceiving health, used by those seeking mates, employees, and leaders, consciously or unconsciously. Research has shown this, so I'll assume it's a given.

Natural beauty, with and without health, is not given equally to all.

Makeup allows people to use their brains and other resources to compensate and supercede natural beauty as a source of peoples' first impressions - to let our minds be more of a factor. Users of makeup are no longer completely at the mercy of chance. They gain some control over how they are perceived.

There are other ways to use brains and other resources to compensate for natural appearance, of course, but appearance is a very powerful contributor to how others perceive us. It would be difficult to argue against efforts to control it.

Furthermore, we tend to assume people have different temperaments and abilities based on appearance. A girl who naturally looks like a freshly-scrubbed mermaid may be expected to have different strengths than one who naturally looks like a lean sharp matron. "Office" makeup is a nonverbal cue that they are both part of a shared culture where, for at least part of the day, focus and civility are prioritized over attracting and defending mates.
posted by amtho at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


found missing, eh I guess I conflated 'stop the presses' with 'alert the press'? Oh well, I'm not the only one.
posted by capricorn at 2:17 PM on January 16, 2013


amtho, your argument would make 100% perfect sense if both men and women were expected by society to wear makeup.
posted by capricorn at 2:19 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, how does anyone plant a kiss that is more than a light peck with that stuff on? Otherwise it gets smeared on your partner.

I wear make-up about 3 days a week and my husband kisses me 7 days a week. He likes it. I frequently have to rub it of his face, but he finds it alluring and sexy. I was given a set of sparkly lip glosses in my Christmas stocking and let me tell you we were finding sparkles on each other everywhere.

On the other hand he has told me frequently that I sometimes look my sexiest when I come in from the garden all sweaty with blowsy hair and red cheeks. So I'm confident that my every day face is fine, but I do like playing with make up and having that option. In fact I feel a little bit sorry for men that they do not have that option. It's fun to experiment with colors and highlights and textures. Some days I play up my eyes, some days my lips. As for coloring, I can go golden caramel or I can go English rose. I really enjoy making the most of my features.

One thing I can't do is wear jewelry. I have a number of good pieces and I like the look of other women wearing jewelry but when I wear, say, earrings and matching necklace I feel a bit over done. Wearing my antique cameo makes me feel silly and pretentious. And I have two lovely gold bracelets that I never wear because they make me feel self-conscious. It's a shame and I wish I could get over feeling that way.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:24 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not an argument. And I bet a lot of men wish they weren't so constrained to keep their appearances so non-adorned - shorter, slight males with less hair are surely pigeonholed in such a way that the heeled boots and wigs of bygone days would be welcomed if they weren't so laughable today.

Also, one could argue that lack of makeup (and other fripperies) could be, in a way, for some women, a high-status signifier. Not only because they might be naturally gifted, but also, in some cases, because it conveys the message that they are important or intelligent enough that they are beyond such concerns. I'm thinking of academics in particular.

I don't mean to imply that all who go makeup-free feel this way, just that it's another possible angle.

I'm not indicating my own status :)
posted by amtho at 2:25 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, it might make sense if makeup actually evened the playing field and made everybody beautiful, rather than making beautiful women look like beautiful women wearing makeup and "regular" women look like regular women wearing makeup.

Also, wait, what? Now office makeup is about civility and focus? As opposed to non-office makeup which is about attracting and defending mates?

And we're supposed to be okay with this system of defining women by what color paint they put on their face? I notice no one seems to need men to wear office makeup to prove they're not just showing up at work to look for a shag.
posted by lydhre at 2:26 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


> a professor friend and I just submitted some stuff (intentionally nebulous here) on how, when women achieve success, they often hang on to that success by hanging on to the dominant norms even more tightly than the men do.

WidgetAlley, that's really interesting, and I'd love to see it when it's out.

Of course, in a sense I feel I'm also becoming part of the problem. I often (not always) conform because I've made the decision that it's not worth the [perceived!] trouble to buck, but my begrudging compliance only reinforces the norm. I hope I will NEVER be like some of my colleagues who actively enforce it through their expectations & judgements of others' appearance, but it pains me that every time I decide to play the part I'm also helping to set a standard that will impact the women who come after me.

And frankly, I'm pretty bitter about the fact that I have a reason to bean-plate the long term ramifications of wearing mascara every damn morning. I love playing with make-up sometimes, too, for all the reasons others said earlier -- it's a chance to paint on myself, to make myself look "pretty," to put on a mask that makes me feel different. Sephora is like a candy store -- all those colors! (At the Monterrey Bay Aquarium I once saw a decorator crab festooning itself with bright multi-colored yarn that had been put in its tank, and I was enormously envious of the palette it had to decorate itself with.) But when wearing make-up is a choice that has social consequences for my career or my field, it's suddenly a whole lot less enjoyable.
posted by Westringia F. at 2:28 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes that would be a weird planet! I would be scared my efforts to Control it would be futile, oh deer!
posted by SteelDancin at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2013


I like makeup. I wish I had more opportunities to wear it, because it's fun. I guess I'm lucky: very few of my friends wear any makeup at all, and they never give me crap about the tons of slap I put on when I have the least little opportunity to do so. I've never had to wear it for a job. My boyfriend does not complain about me wearing it (or not wearing it). I don't spend a ton of money because I buy samples from independent mineral makeup companies that make very high quality product for much cheaper than major brands. I go weeks without wearing it if I feel like it. My big makeup complaint is that no one has invented a device you can stick your face into and have it quickly and painlessly remove all traces without having to lift a finger, especially when drunk and sleepy at 3am.

I don't know if I agree that women are more likely to make comments re: makeup- in my experience, it's been men who like to give little speeches about how they don't like makeup and don't want their girlfriends wearing it. Thankfully, none of these men were friends of mine.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, no, no -- it doesn't even the playing field, but it does give people another way to make an impression. You at least have a chance to show cleverness and taste, or cover your acne scars, or whatever.

And it's not that non-office makeup is about mates, it's just that conforming to the norms of a culture indicates that you are at least aware of that culture and not obviously repudiating it. (FWIW, no one has ever accused me of conforming to office culture; I could tell you stories. I got flak but didn't change. I don't think everyone should be like me, though.)

Men have different office norms. They have to conform to that. Not wearing makeup or much color, for one, and some items that aren't inexpensive. I'm not sure about the whole car culture thing. I'm certainly not arguing that the world is fair :)
posted by amtho at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2013


IAmBroom: "That's fine. Most people strongly believe things that hard, cold data disproves. Looks tend to have an effect on how someone is treated - even if your advisor and you agree that you're unlike all the other humans on Earth."

the objection is one of your ability to demand that somebody undertake a study, not whether I believe in "hard, cold data".
posted by boo_radley at 2:32 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The last time I got fullface done (my sisters wedding) my daughter did not recognise me; my hair was out and long, I had false eyelashes, no glasses, perfume, long dress, the whole lot. She just absolutely dismissed me, like I was a stranger.

Yeah, granted that make-up and dress up can be fun when you are doing it for your own enjoyment or for a special occasion, but I remember the point in my late childhood when I realized that my default mental image of my mom's face was her fully-made up face with red lipstick and eyeliner and everything else. When I was still in elementary school, I asked her when she started wearing makeup and was shocked when she said she never wore it until she turned 30, because she didn't need it before then. It was the first time that I realized that a) I had always assumed that wearing make-up all day, every day was one of the non-negotiable chores of womanhood, like having a period b) you can actually not wear make-up (though it was quite some more time before I met any women who chose this path).

Luckily, I grew up and moved away and, thanks to the miracle of science, have circumvented both make-up duty and period detail! Coincidentally, when I visit home I often have the eerie feeling that people in my town see me as some kind of weird un-woman.
posted by mustard seeds at 2:37 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this the place where we share makeup tips?

I am sorry to report that Butter of London nail polish (at $18.00 a bottle) is not all that. I got several bottles in my Christmas stocking and while I was excited to try them, they performed the same as as the $6.00 bottle of Sephora. So don't waste your money.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:46 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Goodness, I admire and envy you women who feel no pressure to look prettier than you actually are. I certainly feel that pressure, and wear makeup to compensate. I think what this thread is teaching me is that what I had assumed to be a fairly widespread condition of being a woman in the United States in the 21st Century is in fact a much more personalized and idiosyncratic insecurity.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Adding another data point on the makeup = mandatory professional attire tangent.

I used to work in a PR office run and staffed entirely by women, where I felt enormous pressure to doll up. They were playful about it, but I got daily little reminders that a high-level of feminine polish was expected: fancy shoes, designer clothes, hair and makeup. We were often asked to show up at events, just stand there and look good. In PR and show business, presentation often does matter more than competence, and the social norms at that office reflected that reality.

Now that I'm in a techy male-dominated environment, it's the opposite. I'm kind of indifferent to makeup but I love to wear skirts and dresses, and I had to learn to butch it up to be taken seriously. Here, gaming t-shirts, unkempt hair and a general disregard for fashion, beauty and even basic hygiene are signs of competence; femininity is suspect.

I'm not sure which environment made me feel better as a woman, to be quite honest.
posted by Freyja at 3:01 PM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Is this the place where we share makeup tips?

Kim Deal's secret was rubbing ham on her hair.
posted by jessamyn at 3:01 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


> Kim Deal's secret was rubbing ham on her hair.

I'm extremely disappointed that the internet doesn't have more to tell me on that matter.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2013


There is an expression that is not often used by people who are mature: "sucking face". It is a slang for kissing enthusiastically. If she has a bunch of makeup on it tastes dreadful. Also the women who wear the most makeup in the zipcodes I have been living in for the last 20 years were strippers, masseuses, and whores. That is my baseline when I see a woman dolled up like Kim Kardashian. Sex industry worker. (Not that there is anything wrong with being a sex industry worker.)

New York Times lifestyle stuff is fun to read though I will give them that.
posted by bukvich at 3:31 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then again he is a professional Robert Smith impersonator.

Is that actually true? Because holy crap what an awesome job...
posted by Huck500 at 3:48 PM on January 16, 2013


Is that actually true? Because holy crap what an awesome job...

Don't I wish. (No, that's a joke.)

All these comments have been churning in my head and it brought me back to my Catholic School days when all makeup (even tinted Chapstick) was strictly banned. There were maybe 5 boys, so I don't think the girls' desire to sneak makeup had anything to do with attracting those grubby specimens. I recall that the rationale was that we girls were supposed to be "modest" and not call attention to ourselves. I guess that's part of why I've always preferred the overblown Cleopatra/Vampy heavy-dark borderline Drag makeup, because of some latent rebellious urge to hussy up.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:58 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bukvich, you have a good point. From 9 years and on, I've lived in an urban environment. People wearing make-up were either professional or punks/goths/glams playing with the horror make-up provoked in our parents who were all thinking about those girls. I also have friends who worked as strippers and who were experts in make-up, and were infinitely cool. But the effect they had on me was to wear tracksuits night and day for a couple of years, because that was what they did outside of work: wear tracksuits with greasy hair and pale pimply skin. The epitome of chic.
posted by mumimor at 4:01 PM on January 16, 2013


Also the women who wear the most makeup in the zipcodes I have been living in for the last 20 years were strippers, masseuses, and whores.

Come to the South. Women wear insane amounts of makeup for the kind of humidity we have to endure.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 4:04 PM on January 16, 2013


I can't remember the details of actual instances of reading or hearing about this, but I know that I've heard and/or read several women of previous generations (born in early to mid 20th C?) comment positively about the 'mask' aspect of makeup - that it was like a boundary or armor or similar tool that they were in control of and felt supported/protected by, sort of. One vaguely rembered quote had to do with reapplying lipstick, how it had a positive psychological effect of bolstering feelings of strength or bravery or having one's shit together. Makeup (for these women I read/spoke with) could be sort of a way of reifying (not sure if this is the correct way to use this word) or invoking an external, public self, and separating it from a private self, much the same way as a house has (or can have, or whatever) public and private spaces.

And when the world beat you up or someone was a cunt to you or whatever, you could go pull yourself together and freshen up and sort of have this physical-metaphorical picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and starting all over again, by adjusting/touching up the mask. I've heard more than one man (older generation, familiar with this culture/mindset) comment that they wish they had a similar thing that they could do - honorable retreat, reapply armor, reappear on the battlefield in total control... Not a pretty vs ugly thing, but more public vs private, a way of controlling the message and defining/maintaining boundaries, and a physical manifestation/invocation of a mental state.

Different world now, culturally, and these things will always mean different things to different people, but that particular take on it has always fascinated me. I've never done makeup (apart from a few weeks in 8th grade), and I've only ever been nastied about it in one work environment in a southern US town. Other than that it has affected me not at all - complete non-issue. I don't think there's any inherent good or evil, empowering/oppressive value to the stuff (and absolute value judgements about its use are an absurd bummer), but certainly different cultures support or make demands or have expectations of members in the context of makeup, and meaning can be communicated by and/or read from makeup use in various ways by different cultural groups. But sure, 'let's you and him fight' and 'you're doing it wrong/will die alone!' sells lots of stuff/gets lots of eyeballs, and people are insecure, so this is a gift that will keep on giving.
posted by you must supply a verb at 4:20 PM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also the women who wear the most makeup in the zipcodes I have been living in for the last 20 years were strippers, masseuses, and whores.

Come to the South. Women wear insane amounts of makeup for the kind of humidity we have to endure.


There's not the same heat factor, but the midwest is similarly mindboggling. Freshman year, when I visited a friend at a Big 10 school, the most shocking difference between that campus and my "top tier" New England school was all the women (80%, at least) wearing full makeup and sometimes even heels....on the way to 8:30am classes.
posted by availablelight at 4:21 PM on January 16, 2013


"You're going to have to provide a double-blind experiment to prove otherwise, with a considerable sample size. Good luck."

To be honest, most of the professors I work with think that I'm a computer. They literally never see me, even if we've emailed back and forth on various sources or issues. When I am handing around bits of bone to children, I don't tend to wear makeup, because I don't feel like cleaning foundation off of someone's femur. So, I'm going to stick with my original point: that my ability to do my job isn't at all related to my ability to apply fancy eyeliner.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:35 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


granted that make-up and dress up can be fun when you are doing it for your own enjoyment

I will say this: there is a certain fondness in my heart for dark red lipstick and black eyeshadow, because on those very bad grumpy grar days that and a big toothy grin lets me pretend I am dabbing the spilled blood of my enemies on my lips and painting my eyes with the scorched-black ash from their ground-up bones.

...this is obviously a sign I need to stop watching GOT.
posted by zennish at 4:50 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Disguise = Deceit.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:32 PM on January 16, 2013


Well said, "Mr. Yuck" (assuming that is your real name)
posted by found missing at 5:34 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Make Up is Lies.
posted by klangklangston at 5:47 PM on January 16, 2013


I spend a fair amount of money going for a fairly 'natural' look. Do with that what you will...
posted by ersatzkat at 5:58 PM on January 16, 2013


Hi, friendly fucking reminder that it is not necessary to refer to women as fucking "whores" no matter what the fuck they fucking do for a fucking living.

Jesus motherfucking christ.
posted by elizardbits at 5:59 PM on January 16, 2013 [26 favorites]


God, this thread is depressing.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:28 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't see the virtue of self-righteously proclaiming that you don't wear make-up, and the implicit or explicit suggestion that this somehow makes you a better feminist or less under the control of the hegemonic forces of patriarchy. This really is a strain of feminism I abhor: it functions on the assumption that women are just passive surfaces onto which the dominant social forces sway them this way and that, like reeds in the wind. That women brainlessly and helplessly absorb women's magazines and media messages, mimicking them like small children or parrots. You don't agree? You like make-up? That's because you're brainwashed!

The problem is not make-up. The problem is that, on top of the sexist elements in our culture, certain popular strains of feminism (thankfully, there is still vibrant feminist dialogue out there) are becoming fascist: even the most minor life choices of women become politicized, periodically shoved under society's collective microscope for the assessment of whether feminism has made satisfactory 'progress', as inscribed on your body. I'm sick of every single mundane aspect of my self-presentation becoming the yardstick by which my human agency is measured. Hello? I do a thousand other interesting things in my life aside from the 5 minutes I take every morning (yes, every morning without fail) to put on make-up.
posted by adso at 7:58 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would like the women of the world to know that I am OK with them wearing a discreet amount of makeup, not so much that they look like a circus performer, but they really do want to look their best because people will judge them on that. I can supply brochures and a brief presentation of what I consider to be the appropriate amount for different social occasions, and I will be ready to answer questions if the women of the world find any part of the presentation unclear.

Oh yes, and you look perfectly good in flat shoes, as long as they're not too flat. A 2" heel is fine, but the most important thing is that you're comfortable and happy with ones that I like.

Men: please wear undershirts or singlets with business shirts, and always wear long pants if you have hairy legs. Thank you.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:33 PM on January 16, 2013


"The problem is not make-up. The problem is that, on top of the sexist elements in our culture, certain popular strains of feminism (thankfully, there is still vibrant feminist dialogue out there) are becoming fascist: even the most minor life choices of women become politicized, periodically shoved under society's collective microscope for the assessment of whether feminism has made satisfactory 'progress', as inscribed on your body."

No, pretty sure that the problem is still sexism, and that comparing feminism to fascism because there's a critique of make-up (feminazi?) is markedly silly.
posted by klangklangston at 8:45 PM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


what I had assumed to be a fairly widespread condition of being a woman in the United States in the 21st Century is in fact a much more personalized and idiosyncratic insecurity.
posted by pocketfullofrye


Or you just live and work in a different environment.

Me, I have an SO who is slightly anti-makeup, and at work I communicate 90% by telephone. And not only can I go most of the day without talking face-to-face with anyone, but our work dress code seems to largely be "not ripped", and possibly "showered sometime this week". So it's not surprising that I don't wear make-up to work, and it says nothing about my character (except possibly laziness - so much effort, I'm still working on being clean when I leave the house).

Different environments make for different pressures. A friend who really should get her own mefi account just emailed to point me to this thread, and said how she thought her academic colleagues would take her less seriously if she wore nail polish or anything but the barest bit of make up.
posted by jb at 8:51 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the year or so before I got pregnant, I had really settled in to a "look" that felt good to me (and maybe it looks good - or not - I don't care): black boots, leggings, mini skirts, layered tops, scarves, and heavy eyeliner. Not full goth - not even close - but working from a very dark base. It was hard to keep this up with maternity clothes, but I managed.

Then when my son was born, I put down the eyeliner one day because hey, I'm someone's mom now. And it felt weird. My best friend called me on it, telling me that I didn't need to conform to some dowdy societal expectation.

I may not get the eyeliner done every day, but you will never see me in jeans or any other pants. My son's idea of "mom" won't be jeans and cardigans - it'll be knee high biker boots and mini skirts. And on a good day - a fair amount of make-up. Which I wear because I feel like it completes my "me costume."

So, yeah, I am definitely an example of wearing make up as subverting the expected norm. Moms are expected to become invisible and blend in to the background. I'm painfully aware of this when I shop and am the only woman in that particular store carrying a diaper bag instead of whatever the trendy bag is du jour. I'm painfully aware of it at playgroup when I get backhanded comments about my clothing choices, and indeed, am the only one in the room in a skirt.

I guess I'm on my own mission not to stop being a woman just because I'm also a mom.
posted by sonika at 8:59 PM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


(To clarify the comments on my clothes: "Oh, I'd never have time for that!" Which, first, not true. It takes LESS time to put on a skirt than jeans. Also "I can't wear that, I'm too busy chasing my kid." Implying that I am ignoring my child in favor of leggings. Yes, mommy mafia. You got me! You spent 27 extra seconds with your sprog, you win,)
posted by sonika at 9:19 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well said, "Mr. Yuck" (assuming that is your real name)

That is exactly my point.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:53 PM on January 16, 2013


Yeah, those of us who prefer jeans have stopped being women! It's great that you choose your own style, sonika, but how about extending the same courtesy to others?
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:06 PM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


My uniform pre-child was jeans and a cardi, no makeup, and last playgroup we had a range from minidress to hot pants to maxidress to capri pants to men's jeans with a fauxhawk so...

Every single thing we do is politicised, that's just how life fucking works in a community, in a society. And when a HUGE amount of women spend ENORMOUS amounts of money and time on makeup and feel they have to in order to be employed, be fuckable, be presentable, that sure as fuck invites a feminist eyeballing. It really really does for a very very good reason; it diverts women's experiences, women's energy into passivity and consumption. Sure, a shit ton of us subvert it, and do it for fun, but there are enough women for whom it is a chore, a duty they feel coerced into that we should re-examine our relationship with that artifice, that performance.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:34 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I used to think wearing makeup was lying, and so was dyeing your hair.

Then I grew up, went to college, and dyed my hair blue. That was *fun*. So, even though I never got in to the makeup thing, I can respect that it might be enjoyable.

( it isn't for me because I am a no- maintenance anti-morning person, and I have no idea how to put the stuff on so it doesn't look right when I try. Even getting it done by someone else, for a special occasion, is a little odd because there is just so much I don't know. I feel like I must have missed the boat on learning, and I'll never do it daily due to laziness, lack of interest, and being an academic in a male dominated field where it would just feel odd, so I can't see how I'd figure it out now. )
posted by nat at 11:53 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, pretty sure that the problem is still sexism, and that comparing feminism to fascism because there's a critique of make-up (feminazi?) is markedly silly.

I wasn't comparing feminism to fascism. I said, my exact words, certain popular strains of feminism tend to be a little fascistic in their regimentation of women's behavior. Of course, sexism is the problem. But aggressively trying to regulate women's every habit and behavior so that it's in line with a certain ideological standpoint (no make-up! it's patriarchal!) only makes the existing sexism more insanity-inducing. Just because something claims to be feminist, doesn't mean you can't critique it for failing to live up to its convictions. Not all feminisms are the same. I think some undermine the very values they strive to achieve, while others have a more emancipatory potential.

Every single thing we do is politicised, that's just how life fucking works in a community, in a society.

Sure, it's all politicized to a point, but should it be politicized to the point of rendering its subjects into political caricatures of themselves? To the point of the erasure of individual experience? Doesn't that just reduce women back into the state of tokenism we are trying to escape from? It harkens back to the times (or maybe it persists?) when women were seen as the property of the community, or society in general, rather than their own sovereigns over themselves.

And when a HUGE amount of women spend ENORMOUS amounts of money and time on makeup and feel they have to in order to be employed, be fuckable, be presentable, that sure as fuck invites a feminist eyeballing.

There is a huge difference between being critical of the negative social expectations associated with makeup (and certainly, there is much undue pressure on women to wear it in certain contexts) and the actual practice of wearing makeup. I think it is totally misguided to treat women who do wear make-up as if they are superficial frauds hiding being the masks of their oppression.
posted by adso at 12:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread reminded me of a poem by Richard Brautigan:
15%

she tries to get things
out of men
that she can't get
because she's not
15% prettier
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 4:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, those of us who prefer jeans have stopped being women! It's great that you choose your own style, sonika, but how about extending the same courtesy to others?

I think you're misunderstanding me. I fully respect everyone else's fashion choices. I'm talking about the expectation that to "fit in" I need to dress a certain way, and for my peer group where I live, the expectation is that I wear jeans. My objection is to being expected to look a certain way, not to what anyone else chooses to wear.
posted by sonika at 5:12 AM on January 17, 2013


On a personal note, I have a really good time on those rare occasions when I do wear makeup. I have a reputation as a former mixed martial artist, a firefighter/first responder, a very dedicated student and a very aggressive personality. That is the totality that encompasses me (to most people) and there's not a lot of femme in there. People are much more uncomfortable when I perform femininity (skirts, makeup, heels) then when I don't, because they have no idea how to react to all the mixed messages.

You have not lived until you've shown up at a fire meeting with bright red nails and watched everyone try not to mention it. So I absolutely support the idea of makeup being a tool for subversion on a personal level. I think it can both smash some gender boxes and provide a great deal of personal entertainment.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:50 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Then when my son was born, I put down the eyeliner one day because hey, I'm someone's mom now. And it felt weird. My best friend called me on it, telling me that I didn't need to conform to some dowdy societal expectation.

But you do need to conform to her ideas?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2013


What? No, she called me on abandoning my own sense of style.

This is the worst part of sharing a personal anecdote on MetaFilter - the part where I have to go back and explain myself multiple times when it's inevitably misread as having some kind of hidden agenda.
posted by sonika at 11:18 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sorry, that was a knee jerk response caused by cranky crankiness. Don't mind me. Apologies for being a grumpus.
posted by sonika at 11:22 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sweetie, you'd be so much less grumpusy if you just put on a little blush!
posted by phunniemee at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


grumpusy is a condition I don't even want to know about
posted by found missing at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2013


It's gout, mumps, and leprosy all at once.
posted by phunniemee at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"the part where I have to go back and explain myself multiple times when it's inevitably misread as having some kind of hidden agenda."

And here I try really really hard to repress giggles.... oh shit... I have failed. *giggle*

(If I find a cure for my own chronic grumpusitis I'll let you know, possibly a combination of NSAIDS and hydrotherapy could do the trick. If not I'll turn to the leeches...)
posted by xarnop at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Symptoms of grumpusy: outbursts on the Internet that no one understands you, general resentment of the fact that you have to do things like eat food and maintain homeostasis, itchiness at the very thought of fun, and an overwhelming urge to lie face down on the couch.

While there are no known cures, grumpusy may be temporarily alleviated with tea, funny cat pictures, and having toddlers "read" aloud to you.
posted by sonika at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Grumpusy can also be temporarily alleviated with a good dose of wall-staring.
posted by phunniemee at 2:02 PM on January 17, 2013


sonika, if you had said "I wasn't going to stop being sonika just because I became a mum" you would have made your point about sticking to your own style without implying that women who chose jeans had stopped being women. Words! You can hurt people with them, even completely accidentally!
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:08 PM on January 17, 2013


Words! You can hurt people with them, even completely accidentally!

But do we need to go with the worst possible take on what someone writes? It’s a discussion, not an essay forum. Maybe we just give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn’t mean anything bad by what they wrote, and aren’t personally insulting us unless they make it clear.
posted by bongo_x at 3:18 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found the Echidne link to be somewhat thought-provoking for its three invisible elephants idea:
One elephant. ...this thing is about women in the society. All women, even the ones who don't wear makeup. It's not about men in the society. You could argue that this is no invisible elephant. It's the one the whole debate rides on, after all. But sometimes the best way to hide something is in plain view.

Two elephant. Women without makeup look less exaggeratedly female and therefore they may not receive the correct responses from the society accustomed to seeing exaggerated sex differences everywhere.

Three elephant. ...the hard work of exaggerating sex differences is mostly the work of women.
I liked this, as it starts to get at the indexicality — i.e., the referential quality — of makeup. That is, what does social purpose does makeup serve, and what does it mean to subvert it in different ways, and for/by different people? This of course has it's own outward facing meaning. But there's also the internal struggle, the deeply personal meaning tied to our experiences and in the voices of all the we's that we've been in our ongoing dialogues with ourselves. I know that for me personally, the dialogue is conflicted, divergent, sometimes constructive, oftentimes destructive. In some small way, only really known to me (and not always or entirely), it plays out on my face daily. It's very strange to think about and totally impossible not to once the awareness of what I'm actually doing creeps in.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:14 PM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


sonika, if you had said "I wasn't going to stop being sonika just because I became a mum" you would have made your point about sticking to your own style without implying that women who chose jeans had stopped being women.

That IS what I said. If you go back and read my comment, I never implied that I was judging what anyone else wore, but what the *expectations* were. The implications were based on uncharitable readings.

Words! You're putting them in my mouth and twisting them to make it sound like I'm hurting people because there's absolutely no way to say anything on MetaFilter without having to write six follow up comments to prove that you didn't intend to be an asshole!

I'm really, really touchy tonight and not feeling well at all, so if I'm making my point I can't possibly word everything I say so carefully that no one will misread of twist it a little too strongly and you're going to misread, twist it, or use it to otherwise prove I'm some sort of hurtful jerk, well... this is a pre-emptive strike towards six more follow up comments trying to say more politely that you're misunderstanding me.

But do we need to go with the worst possible take on what someone writes? It’s a discussion, not an essay forum. Maybe we just give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn’t mean anything bad by what they wrote, and aren’t personally insulting us unless they make it clear.

Or, y'know, this. Exactly this. Why on earth do you want to assume that I intended to hurt people rather than letting my comment go as an off-the-cuff kind of personal anecdote that actually meant *exactly* what you thought I should have said?
posted by sonika at 4:23 PM on January 17, 2013


[folks maybe take this to email at this point? ]
posted by jessamyn at 5:12 PM on January 17, 2013


Came back to this post after reading another one on plastic surgery because the different in attitudes is like night and day...
posted by subdee at 8:43 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe that I am widely considered someone with a "low-maintenance" yet I suppose, I dunno, "tasteful" style and approach to my appearance.

It bothers me that I feel I cannot take partners' word for it that I "don't need all that stuff," even when they honestly believe they believe that. It bothers me that I've turned down dates (and/or sex) because I knew I didn't have enough hours free in time to complete what I considered the *minimum* requirements of new/casual/short-term relationship-level exfoliating, face moisturizing, body moisturizing, hand moisturizing, leg moisturizing, facial tweezing, body tweezing, finger- and toenail-grooming, de-callousing, underboob- and butt-sanitizing, armpit shaving, leg shaving, pubic hair trimming/shaving/post-shaving-bump-minimizing, facial hair removal/treatment, oral hygiene, hair conditioning, blow-drying, styling........... and that's BEFORE I get to clothes, undergarments, shoes, bags, jewelry and... make-up. (Not to mention fitness/weight/body image.)

I try to look on the bright side of these investments of time and money and mental energy that I make of my own free will, but I resent them, and I resent the inevitable toll on me from even just the process of focusing on each and every element on a head-to-toe checklist of my appearance -- even if I decide one is "good enough" for now that it doesn't need more attention -- and how taxing it is to then try to re-emerge with the ease of body language and facial expression and gait and tenor of someone who is really "comfortable in her skin" and therefore even somehow positioned to focus on what she has to give on a knowledge/character/wit/skills/empathy/creativity/hipness/moxie front.

I believe I've finally curated a core set of makeup products and techniques that work for me, from bare to super-formal. I generally succeed at avoiding beauty advertising. But I'm tired. Really, really, really tired. So I must be doing it wrong. Which is almost too painful and exhausting to admit and to try to tackle -- as if it were the only mental health issue that was important to my well-being right now. My guy costs $175 for 45 minutes, one does need to prioritize.

I think it's good for these norms to be discussed widely, and for the chance to try to understand who benefits and why, at least as better contexts for the decisions we make.

It really does make me like camping all the more, though.
posted by argonauta at 10:19 PM on January 17, 2013


When I am handing around bits of bone to children, I don't tend to wear makeup, because I don't feel like cleaning foundation off of someone's femur.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:35 PM on January 16

....more explanation needed.

I'm totally imagining you now with a skeleton, rubbing your face on its decrepit form.
posted by DisreputableDog at 11:33 PM on January 17, 2013


Seriously? Women still face job and pay discrimination, and still have to deal with the images sold by advertisers, porn, tv and movies that define women narrowly and unrealistically, and the NYTimes still thinks there's a discussion to be had about makeup?

I don't generally support the death penalty, but I'll consider an exception for whoever designs, produces, promotes, and sells shoes that damage women's feet and don't allow running, to say nothing of walking, or the people who make clothing without pockets for women. Or who pick women's pockets by telling them to be "on trend" and regularly replace their wardrobes with expensive, shoddily made, impractical, clothing.

The difference between really expensive makeup and inexpensive makeup? Perfume. That's true of shampoo, lotion, etc. Special soap for your genitals, to "balance your pH?" Unnecessary. How about some special soaps for men to make their balls itch less and smell better? Oh, wait, The NYTimes is supported by advertisers who sell trendy fashions and helps convince women they have to participate in this charade.
posted by theora55 at 6:52 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't generally support the death penalty, but I'll consider an exception for whoever designs, produces, promotes, and sells shoes that damage women's feet and don't allow running, to say nothing of walking, or the people who make clothing without pockets for women

I was waiting for someone to mention shoes. I love playing with make-up (or running around without make-up) but shoes with heels? Oh my God. To me it is like an arms race out there. 3 inch heels were the max once upon a time and you looked and felt sexy with 3 inch heels, but now women are wearing 5 and even 6 inch heels. Walking around on their tippy-toes all day long. Without pantyhose so that their feet slide down and squish their poor toes. I honestly think that it is women vying for men's attention (rather than the men themselves) that has led to this war on each woman's appearance so that now dermabrasion, spray tans, weaves, tooth bleaching, hair waxing, mani-pedis, and thousands of dollars on make-up and clothes and accessories is just the basic starting block. I always felt financially penalized for being a woman just because of all the money I had to pour into my appearance when dating. Just compare the cost of woman's lingerie with men's boxer shorts for example.

On the other hand it is pretty easy to waste your money on stuff that magazines tell you you need. I never met anyone while I was dating who cared as much about my fingernails as my girlfriends did. I was spending $60.00 a month maintaining my fake nails but while it made me feel pretty and made me feel I fit in with my crowd, I really don't think it was a make or break deal for any of my lovers. There is a fine line between doing stuff to make yourself more confident and wasting your money on stuff nobody else cares about. Lancome mascara really is awesome but it costs $27.00 vs. $4.00 for Ulta mascara which is just fine. It is hard to justify that difference.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was watching the season of Torchwood that was filmed in the US (yeah, I'm super behind), and the heels on some of the actresses were shocking me. The UK costumes had always been just fine - the women ran around kicking alien-butt in jeans and sensible boots/shoes - but the US CIA agent was given something like 5 inch heels. I know she's supposed to be an analyst and not an active agent, but it was just distracting - I kept watching and worrying about that poor actress and whether her toes would survive.

As for the lack of pockets! I hate, hate, hate it. I think I'll stop buying women's trousers altogether until the idiot manufacturers put the pockets back. It's been harder to find men's skirts (the utili-kilt is a bit short for me), but I'll keep looking.
posted by jb at 9:38 AM on January 18, 2013


After all, how am I supposed to steal the One Ring(TM) if I don't have any pocketssss?
posted by jb at 9:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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