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Walk a mile in her face.
August 13, 2014 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Men Try Women's Makeup For The First Time (SLYT) Five ordinary, average Joe's get women's make-up applied to half their face. The film includes their comments about the experience as it occurs, a split screen at the end showing the "male" and "female" halves of their faces (it can help to pause and compare each one), and an interesting effect where they slowly turn from one side to the other.

The film is 2 minutes 43 seconds long and has been previously discussed on Queerty and The Good Men Project.
posted by Michele in California (107 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Should have gone for the full face.
posted by odinsdream at 2:59 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Interesting. Ever since that OK Go video, I have been hoping the half-beard becomes a thing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:07 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Guy in white shirt: "Some girls will...like...come over looking like a certain way and then they' ll go and take a shower and I'll be like: whoa, who's this person?"

The transformation of the guy in the black shirt is crazy. He'd make a great drag queen.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:09 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


TBH the only thing that bothers me is that either they didn't have a matching tone (which is very likely, because racism means your skin tone not existing according to cosmetics companies), or they lightened the black guy's complexion a full shade of foundation on purpose :/
posted by sukeban at 3:11 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


This was fun, but I continue to hate the "women are beautiful, men are ugly and hairy" thing. Dude, you are sexually attracted to women and culturally conditioned to talk and think about their beauty, but that doesn't mean it's absent from men. And I realize that that's uncomfortable for a lot of men, to think of ourselves in the object position, but I can promise you guys that yes, you too are pretty. And not just femme men! Male beauty is just as various and wonderful as female beauty.

Also yeah, as sukeban says it's pretty amazing how much lighter they decided to go with the black guy. Come on. They had the presence of mind to get an array of skin colors and complexions and then did that anyway?
posted by kavasa at 3:14 PM on August 13 [44 favorites]


Yeah - why the half-face? Weird.

The dude with the dark hair and big nose looks hot 'as a woman'. Funny how much overlap attractive features have between men and women. I'm looking at YOU, Leo DiCaprio's eyes...
posted by Pecinpah at 3:17 PM on August 13


I guess I get the lesson of the video (and the title of this FPP), but how about we move in the opposite direction and encourage women to shuck the makeup? I mean...I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't complain about having to wear makeup, yet there seems to be scant little movement to free themselves from makeup. Personally, I far prefer my wife sans makeup...seeing her real face. You don't realize how much of a barrier makeup creates until you see someone without it.

[/olddudejustdoesntgetit]
posted by Thorzdad at 3:17 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


I can't be the only one here who now really wants to participate in this.
I want to get pretty.
And maybe find out if my sister and I really do look THAT MUCH alike once I've got makeup and a nice wig.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 3:21 PM on August 13 [20 favorites]


And a dress that shows off my curves...and a spotter for when I fall trying to walk in heels.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 3:22 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


but how about we move in the opposite direction and encourage women to shuck the makeup?

Why should we? Makeup can be a tool of self-expression. Makeup can also be a chore you do because of social expectations. The trick is that everyone (men and women) should be free to paint their faces as they would like, or not.
posted by sukeban at 3:25 PM on August 13 [41 favorites]


but how about we move in the opposite direction and encourage women to shuck the makeup?

I really liked some of the comments the men made about it being like going to the dentist and the remark about how scary eyelash curlers are and that kind of thing. I can see this video as potentially supportive of bringing down the pressure for some women to wear makeup. (FWIW: I am a woman and I wear no makeup. This has been true for years mostly due to my medical situation, not as a political stance or anything like that.)


And maybe find out if my sister and I really do look THAT MUCH alike once I've got makeup and a nice wig.

For medical reasons, I shaved my head in April of this year for the first time ever. My oldest son observed that I look basically exactly like my (mostly bald) father, only on a smaller scale (my features are relatively delicate compared to what he looked like, though I am not petite for a woman). It was quite eye opening. My son said he had always felt like I didn't look much like either of my parents but, without hair, yup, I look like dad.
posted by Michele in California at 3:29 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


I'm just way too lazy to ever deal with that on a daily basis. I keep a tight buzz-cut just because I'm too lazy to do anything to my hair ever and can barely manage to shave weekly. I can't fathom how women who wear makeup can figure that out every morning.
posted by octothorpe at 3:30 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


how about we move in the opposite direction and encourage women to shuck the makeup?
...
Personally, I far prefer my wife sans makeup...seeing her real face.


I used to say stuff like this and can totally empathize. But I'm starting to think that statements like these aren't as liberating as you might hope they are. They can come across as yet another man's opinions about what they should do. Makeup or no is a choice that women can make for themselves, and for us men mostly we just need to get out of the way and not give them any shit for whatever choices they do make.
posted by Jpfed at 3:32 PM on August 13 [89 favorites]


Why should we? Makeup can be a tool of self-expression.

And, I agree. If people want to, fine. But, the framing of this FPP (Walk a Mile in Her Face) implies that men should understand some unspoken burden women endure (i.e. wearing makeup) With that framing in mind, my response was to simply suggest getting rid of the burden.

If I misread the framing, my bad.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:32 PM on August 13


Thorzdad, you may or may not be familiar... But the whole "i like women who don't wear makeup, why do they do it?" thing has some pretty gross associations in online culture. Mainly with neckbeardy, reddit type guys who often have MRA type ideals. I'm not saying i'm associating you with that at all, but just that even beyond the reasons above of self expression and why shouldn't people do it if they want to... it just has some gross associations for a lot of people who have been floating around online communities a lot for the past few years.

That, and generally people who think that actually do like makeup, they just like "natural" makeup, and think women wearing subtle makeup aren't wearing it at all because they don't have the experience to spot it and tell.

I don't know, this may or may not be out of place, but every time i see that "why do women wear makeup? i like it when they don't anyways!" thing my ears perk up and i wince a bit.
posted by emptythought at 3:34 PM on August 13 [42 favorites]


The thing is, even among women who wear makeup, I don't think very many women wear that much makeup on a daily basis. I mean, even when I wear foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick, which I consider a full face of makeup, I don't think it ever takes more than 10 minutes to put it all on. I think that most women only do makeup-artist style makeup for special occasions, if ever.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:37 PM on August 13 [8 favorites]


I am a woman and I don't wear make-up, and I am so fully on board with making this a thing that more women do. I get that it can be about self-expression, but most women see it as an necessary component of being taken seriously in the workplace or getting a mate.

This also isn't the most helpful coming from men because it comes off as just one more way men's preferences should dictate a woman's behaviors. But there are so many benefits to not wearing make-up! There's the time spent sleeping, reading the news, hanging out with family, indulging in some other task. And there's the money saved! SO. MUCH. MONEY. And not having your skin occasionally freak out from too many products. So, you know, a great argument for not feeling compelled to wear make-up that has nothing to do with some guy's opinion.

That said, if you love the expression and have the cash, have fun. I will be over here, sleeping in the morning.
posted by ohisee at 3:38 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


men should understand some unspoken burden women endure (i.e. wearing makeup)

Well, not all of us do the Kim Kardashian morning full-face routine as they do to the guys in the video. Erm. I don't usually wear a lot of makeup because of allergies, but even so, a dash of lipstick can be applied in two seconds.
posted by sukeban at 3:39 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


If I misread the framing, my bad.

Or, you know, maybe I suck at titles and have limited experience at doing FPPs. "Walk a mile in her face" was taken from a line on the page it came from.

I think my interest was more in building bridges than in promoting some specific outcome or agenda (other than improved cross-gender understanding).
posted by Michele in California at 3:39 PM on August 13


My god, did they curl their lashes AFTER putting on mascara? Barbaric
posted by Aubergine at 3:40 PM on August 13 [9 favorites]


a dash of lipstick can be applied in two seconds.

Right, but there's the time spent buying it, choosing the color, figuring out if it looks good with your skin tone, learning how to make it not get all over the rest of your face. There's an investment in time and mental energy that goes beyond just how long one application takes.
posted by ohisee at 3:40 PM on August 13 [9 favorites]


Eyelash curlers are both scary and amazing. I'm doubly impressed when I see a woman use one on the subway. Must have amazingly steady hands or you'll be saying Arrr! forever after.
posted by jonmc at 3:44 PM on August 13


The big guy is really cute. Sooo wish they had done the full face there, though.
posted by odinsdream at 3:46 PM on August 13


Right, but there's the time spent buying it, choosing the color, figuring out if it looks good with your skin tone, learning how to make it not get all over the rest of your face. There's an investment in time and mental energy that goes beyond just how long one application takes.

But that's the fuuu~~~~n of it.

I've just bought a tube of hot pink lipstick this morning. I'm 36 and I hadn't dared to try bright lipstick until this year when I got orthodontics and went from shame to glorious IDGAF. This is a hobby. Hobbies, OTOH, should never be compulsory.
posted by sukeban at 3:46 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


Also, in order to get applying lipstick down to a few seconds, you have to be pretty practiced in putting it on, so there's a lot of repetition involved. I can't find the link right now, but I saw someone talking about how much time women spend monitoring their own appearance and how much this drains their mental energy.

Again, if you think it's fun, go for it! I like literally rolling around in the dirt on mountains and that isn't for everyone. I just think more women need to not wear make-up so that it becomes truly optional.
posted by ohisee at 3:48 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Thorzdad: "how about we move in the opposite direction and encourage women to shuck the makeup?"

For what it's worth I find makeup - that is, the act of intentionally constructing your appearance, of making conscious aesthetic and artistic decisions which shape the actual face you present - kind of joyful and empowering.

Makeup as a required thing, makeup as pointless, joyless labour imposed on those women who don't personally value it - that's fucked, and it's a standard which absolutely needs to be dismantled. But I think in a society which at all levels centres masculine-associated modes of thinking, behaviour and personal presentation as strong, as assertive, even as liberatory, there's something intensely radical and powerful about choosing to demonstrate that supposedly vapid, weak, man-centered presentation need be none of those things, without casting it aside.
posted by emmtee at 3:48 PM on August 13 [19 favorites]


That, and generally people who think that [where "that" is "women without make up"] actually do like makeup, they just like "natural" makeup, and think women wearing subtle makeup aren't wearing it at all because they don't have the experience to spot it and tell.

I just want to re-iterate this. Then I would like to note that it does loop back into the burden on women to be pleasing because it creates an expectation that women look like "natural make-up" face--with a certain amount of color in the cheeks, eyelashes, brows and along the line of the eye. Otherwise, it's an endless day of "are you alright? you look tired" and hearing that a woman in her 40's looks "'old" instead of "looks like she is wearing no makeup of any kind at all".
posted by crush-onastick at 3:51 PM on August 13 [30 favorites]


When I do my full Show Face for performance, it takes about 20-25 minutes. That's primer, foundation, concealer, setting powder, contour, highlight, blush, eyeshadow primer, Fancy Eyeshadow (4-5 different shadows), eyeliner, mascara, lipliner, lipstick. And when I'm done, I look great, but also very made up. More standard daily face is BB/CC cream, powder, 2-3 colors eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick, maaaaaaybe blush, done, and that takes about 10 minutes. But for normal every day? Eyeshadow, lip gloss, done. And often not even that.

I love the full fancy makeup. I love playing makeup, I love the colors, I love the glitter, it's good fun times. But I hate feeling like I'm not going to be given as much respect at the bank or by my new doctor or at my kid's IEP meeting if I'm not wearing it. That part sucks.
posted by KathrynT at 3:51 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


I am a woman who has never been able to bring herself to use eyelash curlers. They're just too similar to a Medieval implement of torture. I'm scared they're going to clamp on and never come off... [Shivers]

From emptythought: "That, and generally people who think that actually do like makeup, they just like "natural" makeup, and think women wearing subtle makeup aren't wearing it at all because they don't have the experience to spot it and tell."

Right. My hubby curses the day I showed him how subtle eyeliner, mascara, blush and foundation can make a huge difference on a woman's face. He says he enjoyed the old days when he thought women were just walking around with naturally flushed cheeks & subtle black framing around their eyes...
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 3:55 PM on August 13 [26 favorites]


Yeah the most complex part of makeup (imo) is the eye, and on average most women aren't doing up a full smokey eye every morning. I use concealer, foundation, blush, powder, illuminating eyeshadow, an eyebrow pencil, mascara, and lip gloss when I'm in "publicly acceptable appearance" mode, and that takes 5-10 minutes to put on depending on how dark the circles under my eyes are and how well my eyebrow plucking is going. My bigger issue with daily makeup routines is having to wash it all off at night, especially using cream to remove the mascara... usually by the time I go to bed I would kill to just collapse in bed without worrying about it but if I do that I end up all zitty. (Which ends up perpetuating the makeup cycle as I can't POSSIBLY be seen in a professional environment looking like a teenager who just hit puberty)

Really though it's all the other required maintenance that bothers me. The eyebrow plucking, the hair removal all over other parts of my body, the nails (I loves me some fun nail polish but I hates me having to do the work myself when I don't feel like paying for/don't have time for a salon manicure). These aren't on a daily basis but in some ways that's more annoying because you have to fit extra time as needed into a morning routine rather than get used to budgeting the extra few minutes for it. Makeup feels fun and expressive and has the side benefit of making me socially acceptable; shaving my legs is a royal pain in the ass that is not fun or expressive but I'm a bad feminist and unwilling to accept the social consequences of not doing it.

Also, eyelash curlers are the most terrifying thing ever and I'm pretty sure they began life as medieval torture devices.
posted by olinerd at 3:57 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Thorzdad: I mean...I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't complain about having to wear makeup

Hi, I'm Hold your seahorses, nice to meet you! I grew up not wearing makeup, because I didn't see the point. Now, in my mid-30s? I enjoy selecting and putting on makeup. I'm a little bit sad I missed out on the period most women learned it, in their teens. I do it literally for fun - I will come home from work some days and just slap on a full face of new makeup to play around with colors and styles. My husband shares your feeling that "ugh, i don't know why women think this makes them look better" but the truth is that my makeup has nothing to do with the preferences of him or any other man. It has to do with my preferences and my taste, and mine alone, and I kind of resent when he looks at the results of my fun/effort and rolls his eyes - he's assuming ownership over something that's mine, because he assumes that as the man, it's for him.

I get that it's not true of everyone, and that often, women feel obligated to look "put together" in a way that men don't even have to think about. And that sucks, when we have to paint a layer over our skin to be considered as "naturally" good-looking as men can be by being, you know, natural. But especially these days, that's not all makeup is. Look around Pinterest's beauty boards someday if you're bored. There's amazing self-expression going on in the world of makeup artistry.

Also, for some women - some people - the ability to cover up or even out their skin is something that makes them more comfortable in the world. Not to please others, but to make their own life more normal-feeling. A heavy-duty makeup brand called Dermablend ran ads to that effect recently. Give one a watch; it may change how you view makeup use.
posted by Hold your seahorses at 3:58 PM on August 13 [31 favorites]


And that sucks, when we have to paint a layer over our skin to be considered as "naturally" good-looking as men can be by being, you know, natural

I don't think that the idea is that by not wearing make-up women can be as naturally "good-looking" as men, but more that they can be allowed to be NOT be good-looking and still be respected. I find that I get way more judgement from other women for not wearing make-up than from men. My skin isn't perfect, and you know what, I'm not going to apologize for it or hide it. I still deserve to be treated with respect.
posted by ohisee at 4:04 PM on August 13 [7 favorites]


My wife and I joke that I own more makeup than she does. When we met I was trying a kind of Criss Angell look for clubbing (OK this was the 90s…) Eyeliner mostly TBH. She was (still is) makeup-free. The only time she ever wore makeup was for a friend's wedding and it was kind of weird. But she has a ton of face care products and spends a lot of time attending to her skin so maybe women never get a fair break from having to manipulate their faces for 30min a day.

It's also weird when I travel outside the Pacific Northwest and totally vanilla moms in the supermarket or wherever are all painted up like Portland drag queens.
posted by axoplasm at 4:05 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


I wish I knew a special effects artist who could do makeup on me. I'd walk outside with a dog's nose and tiny hands protruding from my cheeks.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:24 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


That, and generally people who think that actually do like makeup, they just like "natural" makeup, and think women wearing subtle makeup aren't wearing it at all because they don't have the experience to spot it and tell.

I happen to find that my S.O. is most attractive not only with no makeup but with messed up hair, wearing one of my ratty t-shirts and a pair of my underwear. I've come to understand though as per the discussion in progress here that this really just isn't as comfortable for her as it would be for me. I think what you're getting at is that expectations are so weird that people don't necessarily know what "natural" is but I'm sure plenty of dudes really know they don't like makeup - the key is it doesn't actually make you morally superior that the look you happen to fetishize is theoretically less labor-intensive than the norm.
posted by atoxyl at 4:32 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


The "why not just stop wearing makeup?" thing ignores the reality of the consequences for doing so. A woman is not weak or a bad feminist if she decides that the effort saved from eschewing makeup isn't worth the consequences of showing up in public without any on. Same for shaving. I wear less makeup now than I did when I was younger, but I truly feel weird being out in the world without so much as a sweep of mascara and some under-eye concealer. And if I started showing up to work completely bare-faced, you can be there would be comments.
posted by misskaz at 4:40 PM on August 13 [7 favorites]


Wait a minute, what?

There are really that many men out there who have NEVER worn makeup at all? Never got curious and played around with it even in private just to see what it'd look like?

LOL men.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:54 PM on August 13 [9 favorites]


The "why not just stop wearing makeup?" thing ignores the reality of the consequences for doing so.

Yeah, as long as women are encouraged and expected to wear makeup (high heels, expensive hair, etc.), they're going to be in an arms race I'm sure many must wish they didn't have to participate in.

If a corporate dress code ruled out high heels, makeup, and dresses at work, would that be a bad thing?
posted by pracowity at 4:58 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I like wearing makeup. I get to put cool colored stuff on my eyelids, and smooth out my face, and put a little blush on my cheeks. The colors (blue, green, whatever) go with the brightly colored reading glasses I wear, and the brightly colored bags I carry. Decoration is fun. The older I get, the more I like bright colors, and the more I want to put a happy face on myself, because people read "old" as "grouchy" and I want my outside to match my inside.
posted by Peach at 5:15 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


For what it's worth, I'm a woman who has been successful in corporate environments and I've never worn makeup to work.
posted by nev at 5:38 PM on August 13 [12 favorites]


I think makeup for men is a good idea, notably cleansers and moisturizers. I would kill sometimes for a socially acceptable way to cover up a large zit.

My wife wears makeup as well to protect her skin from the harsh UV here north of the 49th Parallel. She often marvels at how women and men in Canada worship the sun, setting themselves up for premature wrinkles not too far off down the road.
posted by Nevin at 5:41 PM on August 13


I attended a bachelor's party the other day, and as we were walking down the street, whenever we passed a group of women, one of the attendees would call out "Hey ladies! Looking good tonight! How you doing?"

To which I would immediately respond "Don't do that."

His rational was that women liked being catcalled and it improved their night.

A short while later, the groom-to-be was made to wear a pink fluffy cowboy hat with blinking LEDs as we continued our walk through downtown. Within a very short while, a carload of young men slowed down to call out at us: "Hey ladies!"

The same gentleman who had been catcalling earlier insisted that the groom-to-be take off the hat.

I put on my best "Welcome to Male Gaze 100" face, but I don't think any lessons were learned.
posted by 256 at 5:44 PM on August 13 [24 favorites]


The "why not just stop wearing makeup?" thing ignores the reality of the consequences for doing so.

When I worked in a job that involved getting tips from customers, the difference between the nights I wore make-up and the nights I didn't were significant. If I still worked in a job with a lot of customer face time, I would probably "choose" to wear make-up for financial reasons, but that's not really a choice.
posted by ohisee at 5:53 PM on August 13 [8 favorites]


I like wearing makeup. Most days I can't be bothered and on the days I can, it's tinted moisturizer with SPF 15 and mascara. Maybe some lip gloss if I'm feeling super fancy. I do put on more makeup and such if I'm going out or to a fancy occasion. I enjoy it and I enjoy playing with it. I wish I had more chances to do so.

But then I'm pretty happy with how I look and usually don't really care what people think about me. I totally understand it's not like that for everyone.

Usually, I wear makeup on the days where I feel like I need some more confidence -- it becomes somewhat of a mask for me. It separates me that much from who I actually am and becomes more of a performance. It's a form of armor that lets me pretend I'm someone I'm not. It's part of the process I have of being an introvert and facing people.

These are complicated issues for women. Since I mostly sit in a corner & glare at people who come bug me, I don't need to be on all the time. On the days I need to be "on," I do wear more makeup. I'm not justifying it. I don't even really know if I'm aware if people treat me differently. I just know I feel differently when I'm wearing it.
posted by darksong at 5:58 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]



That, and generally people who think that actually do like makeup, they just like "natural" makeup, and think women wearing subtle makeup aren't wearing it at all because they don't have the experience to spot it and tell.


Oh man. There was this time when my friend and I were 15 and we had gone to the pharmacy to get some snacks. My friend, who never wore make-up, wandered into the make-up aisle and became enamored with this shimmery cotton-candy blue eyeshadow and bought it on an impulse. We went back home to her house, she dabbed some on her eyelids and then we hung around the kitchen until her dad came home.

Her father was this very grim and controlling sort of guy who took one look at her, grunted, and went on this rant about how she looked like a painted lady of the night and what did she think trying to entice boys at her age when she should be focusing on school, and then he started railing "Why can't you be more like your friend. Look, she doesn't need make-up to feel beautiful! No make-up is the best look on a woman. Just a smile will make you beautiful! Natural is always best." And I was silently cackling, because I was wearing my everyday make-up from those days, which consisted of: foundation, concealer, bronzer, under-eye concealer, eyebrow pencil, highlighter below those eyebrows, three shades of brown eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, and tinted lip balm. Not to mention the plucked eyebrows, diy hair highlights, and waxed upper lip.

-

Anyway, my point is that I feel like make-up has become so overloaded symbolically that it's become a kind of place of projection about all our anxieties about feminism, free will, etc, in a hugely exaggerated and distorted way. But really, how is it that much different from any other sort of adornment that has been a central part of all human cultures throughout history? Why is this considered a natural and beautiful expression of human creativity but somehow spending 5-10 minutes putting on eyeshadow and mascara to feel pretty is a sign of our lack of free will? Where do we draw the line as to what kinds of adornments are "excess" or frivolous? Earrings? Designer shoes? A sparkly key-chain? A cool-looking wallet? And why were these guys in the video snickering and cracking dismissive jokes as if make-up is this weird thing women pointlessly put themselves through...and of course a man in make-up is just for comedic effect, right? It could never, ever just be pretty, right?
posted by adso at 6:03 PM on August 13 [32 favorites]


My favorite version of this is when Karl Pilkington in An Idiot Abroad is done up as a woman. I don't know how much fiction is in his performance but he honestly looks quite perplexed at himself.

Here's the clip
posted by M Edward at 6:04 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]



If a corporate dress code ruled out high heels, makeup, and dresses at work, would that be a bad thing?


Yes? Femininity is not a bad thing, enforced femininity is a bad thing. I'm a very girly girl and wear lots of dresses and heels and a little makeup most days. I feel most comfortable that way. What bothers me is that every woman feels pressure to be like that. And that's because patriarchy, not the fault of individual women.

Putting on makeup is an actual skill, and some people are so good at it that it's second nature like brushing their teeth. I have a five minute routine that's basically like that, but more than that is work for me. That's just because I don't have that skill, not because "painting your face" or "smearing on paint" is such impossibly hard or unnatural work.

I also hate the "men like you better natural, ladies" arguments because 1) it's not really about that and 2) not really - I'm dating a guy casually right now who, despite being really pretty cool, made a comment recently like "it's like we're married already or something" so even though I'd been to the gym and he was just coming over, I put on eyeliner and lip gloss and curled my lashes and he was like - "wow, you look really good" but it was less about that and more like, look, I'm making this effort because we're not married and I don't think of this that way either.

It's sort of this cultural signifier beyond "I'm pretending I have a different face." It's really complex, and if you think there's an easy answer that fits all women you're doing it wrong.
posted by sweetkid at 6:11 PM on August 13 [14 favorites]


> It's also weird when I travel outside the Pacific Northwest and totally vanilla moms in the supermarket or wherever are all painted up like Portland drag queens

I wait at the bus stop every morning here near Seattle with two women from Texas, as we send our kids off to school. They both do full-on hair and makeup but sometimes are in pajamas. It's interesting to see what we consider the minimum required to be out in public.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:12 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


Also, I once started talking to a guy (whom I ended up dating briefly) just because I thought he had painted one fingernail black, when really he had caught it in a door. But I thought the fact that he might have painted his nails kind of hot.
posted by sweetkid at 6:14 PM on August 13 [7 favorites]


The corpse in the library: "I wait at the bus stop every morning here near Seattle with two women from Texas, as we send our kids off to school. They both do full-on hair and makeup but sometimes are in pajamas. It's interesting to see what we consider the minimum required to be out in public."

I live in Texas. Near Dallas. The heart of big hair country. (Like bat country, but scarier, and I don't have a salt shaker of cocaine to make it more tolerable...)

In all seriousness, it took me till now, in my late 40s, before I will go to the grocery store for an ingredient without makeup on. But by Dallas standards, even when I wear makeup, I don't wear makeup.

Dallas make up consists of (in order), tinted BB cream, concealer (3 colors for different areas, dependent on age of subject), foundation, setting powder, blush/bronze, eye shadows (3-5 colors), eyeliner, shadow to blend liner so it's not a harsh line, mascara, false eyelashes (optional, but really a big trend here lately), finishing powder, spritz with rose water for set, final dusting. When I do Dallas makeup, I don't even look like the same human; it and hair will take me about an hour.

Regular makeup for me is a tinted moisturizer, powder, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. I can do that in under 10 minutes, and feel naked when I leave the house without it, unless I'm going to the gym, or running into the store for a last minute item.

I still think it's weird that I'm often one of the only woman at the gym not in makeup though. Mayhaps I glisten more than other women, because I would look like a clown in a rain storm if I tried to workout wearing my public-facing face.
posted by dejah420 at 6:28 PM on August 13 [13 favorites]


brb slamming my fingers in a door and putting the pic on okcupid
posted by mrbigmuscles at 6:30 PM on August 13 [11 favorites]


just paint it black mrbigmuscles
posted by sweetkid at 6:35 PM on August 13 [23 favorites]



If a corporate dress code ruled out high heels, makeup, and dresses at work, would that be a bad thing?


Also just to go back to this, I wouldn't work at a place that had a dress code that said I couldn't wear high heels, makeup and dresses. I would have no idea how to dress myself for work. Also I don't want to not wear those things.
posted by sweetkid at 6:37 PM on August 13


I think makeup for men is a good idea, notably cleansers and moisturizers.

I've never really considered cleansers and moisturizers makeup. It baffles me that something as basic a staking care of one's skin can be so gendered. (Of course, the gendering of lots of things baffles me.)

I love wearing makeup. I hated it when I was younger though, because I didn't have any interest in it and my mom forced it on me for special occasions. The most important part now is that I have something of a choice in the matter. Didn't start wearing it until I was 21, hardly wore it to work, save for red lipstick. I wear more on the weekends.

My routine, when I feel like it, is eyebrow gel, blush/bronzer/contour, mascara, and lipstick. Concealer when I've popped a zit. Anything more than that is work, and that's what I want to avoid when applying makeup.
posted by supermassive at 6:43 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


If a corporate dress code ruled out high heels, makeup, and dresses at work, would that be a bad thing?

It would be just as bad as requiring everyone to wear high heels, makeup, and dresses.

Feminine presentation is central to a lot of people's identities. I know one woman who doesn't even own any flat shoes or pants. I'm sure she'd feel like she was in drag if she had to dress like that.

Besides, it would also probably send the message that femininity isn't work appropriate.

I think we need to work on getting as far away from institutionally dehumanizing practices as we can, honestly. People's identity kits are important to them, and many people feel uncomfortable having to conform to someone else's presentation. Changing attitudes about the way people present themselves is a lot harder than just instituting dress codes, but sometimes things are hard because they're important.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:47 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


I wish there were another version of this that showed men with makeup that emphasized their masculinity.

Also, I just asked my mom, and she estimates that around half of adult women in Portland, Oregon wear makeup. What's it like elsewhere?
posted by Renegade Duck at 6:51 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I wish there were another version of this that showed men with makeup that emphasized their masculinity.

One thing some men do is grow facial hair to give their face more definition, project more as male, cover a weak chin, etc. It isn't make-up but it is a means open to men that kind of checks off that box for some of them.

Besides, it would also probably send the message that femininity isn't work appropriate.

Yeah, one of the things we are desperately in need of is some sort of "power dressing for women" (for lack of a better term) that isn't about mimicking men. I feel pretty strongly that our current mode of just trying to feminize traditionally male office attire is another way of left-handedly announcing "Yuppers, we are still second class citizens." We need some kind of Alpha Female model rather than Feminized Alpha Male model and I don't think we really have a good idea of how to make that happen.
posted by Michele in California at 6:58 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


just paint it black mrbigmuscles

I don't know... then I have to go to the store and buy the stuff and then paint it on and I'm not coordinated and it will probably get everywhere and look wrong anyways. I'd rather just sustain a crush injury to my fingers, seems less stressful.

I wish there were another version of this that showed men with makeup that emphasized their masculinity.

I was going to bring this up. There's tattoos and piercings that are or can be "masculine" but there's no makeup. Why? The guys in 300 were jacked and tan and chopping off arms and shit, and they were surely caked in makeup. It seems like other cultures manage it. Check out this dude, he's madeup and intimidating as fuck. I'd love to walk in to court looking like that guy.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 6:59 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


mrbigmuscles, one secret is that nail polish comes off skin pretty easily so slap on the nail polish (I have a matte navy colour that is very 'slammed my finger in a door') and in the shower just pick off all the sloppy bits. Signed a lazy femme woman.
posted by hydrobatidae at 7:07 PM on August 13 [11 favorites]


Yeah, one of the things we are desperately in need of is some sort of "power dressing for women" (for lack of a better term) that isn't about mimicking men. I feel pretty strongly that our current mode of just trying to feminize traditionally male office attire is another way of left-handedly announcing "Yuppers, we are still second class citizens." We need some kind of Alpha Female model rather than Feminized Alpha Male model and I don't think we really have a good idea of how to make that happen.

I disagree with this - I work in advertising and femine dress is a big plus in getting to the C-suite. Shoulder pads and suits aren't necessary any more. Working out a lot, matching a certain body type, and keeping up with fashion is though.
posted by sweetkid at 7:16 PM on August 13


I've been making a concerted effort to wear more makeup and dressing femme-er recently because I am really fucking tired of femininity not being serious enough for science. I am a serious scientist, and I am a woman, and I am badass even if I'm wearing heels and mascara and a pencil skirt.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:17 PM on August 13 [23 favorites]


They had the presence of mind to get an array of skin colors and complexions and then did that anyway?

The intersection of race and makeup is such a minefield. I've thought long and hard about why I wear makeup when so many companies can't even be bothered to make foundation in my skin tone, and I've decided that its because I think I'm pretty, and I like the way lipstick looks on me, and no one's gonna tell me otherwise.* (It hurt like hell when my mom told me she thought she was too dark for red lipstick. At the time, I owned 7 tubes.)

So what I do nowadays is just buy from companies that make products (not just foundation/concealer) that actually show up on my skin. Since I live in NYC, it's not too difficult.

*This isn't to say that I made this choice in a vacuum. Shit's complicated.
posted by supermassive at 7:18 PM on August 13 [7 favorites]


I'm a pretty light skinned Indian American (pic on Twitter in my profile if you want) but grew up in a part of Northern Virginia that was mostly German and Irish American at the time - so really, really pale white people, not even Italians and Jews really (it's much more diverse now but meh).

I didn't even know how to put on makeup because all my friends were blond/light brown haired/blue eyed and my coloring was "so off," and my mom didn't teach me girly things. She wore makeup but like, lipstick and it just somehow was not the same as all the stuff my girlfriends did. I didn't have the first clue where to start. I remember going to the Lancome counter and the saleslady going "wow! you're SO dark! everything just disappears into your skin!" It was one of those moments where I was like 1) I'm not that dark and 2) even if I were, fucking deal, isn't this your job?

Then I moved to the NorthEast and NYC for college and adulthood and there was MAC and suddenly things in a range of colors beyond "fair" and "dark" and it turns out that in a large spectrum I'm on the light side for people of color, where my whole childhood I'd thought I was the darkest thing.

Just more cultural background/baggage behind makeup - learning to do it right plus actually having products that fit me was yet another political/progressive win.
posted by sweetkid at 7:34 PM on August 13 [9 favorites]


My gym bag was stolen out of my car recently. It contained all my swimming stuff and my small makeup bag. That was the thing that was most irritating. I buy makeup maybe once a year, if I have to. And it's usually just to replace the usual colors, maybe $40/year. I haven't had my makeup "done" in at least six years. I wear a fairly natural face but I do wear it daily. And it's likely so natural that most folks don't notice the makeup at all. I hate shopping and I really hate spending tons of money on stuff I don't particularly care about like makeup (or bras, bras are f-ing expensive).

Anyway, I was feeling sort of sick of my regular colors and feeling like they didn't suit me so well anymore so I figured this is a good excuse to have my face done, do some updating as well as replace my favorites. Everything that I own makeup-wise was in that bag -- my brushes, my moisturizer, my meager makeup supplies.

I re-bought most of my old stuff plus some new stuff. Got my face did up and walked out of there looking smashing. My husband's mouth gaped open when he saw me and he assured me that it was because it looked so good. People, I will be honest, I spent over $350. Insane. I had some money set aside for a rainy day. A year ago, I would not have spent that much because I couldn't and that would have just been fine. I don't particularly love makeup and am more on the 'leave it' side in general. It can be a lot of fun or it can be a trap. Or it's both... even on a good day.

But, goddamn, if I ever get my makeup stolen again, fuhgeddaboudit!
posted by amanda at 7:48 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]




Frizzy-hair guy has a pretty lady-face! I don't think I would look that good in cats-eye makeup at all.

I stopped wearing makeup because (partly due to the glasses I think) no one ever seemed to be able to tell when I was or wasn't. (I never wore lipstick; it just made me want to claw my lips off). But I used to wear base, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara. And it just didn't register with people as "made up" and also; terrible breakouts from the base. And smeary eyes. And expensive.

So I haven't worn it in years, except for occasional concealer or eyeliner if we're going out. It hasn't made a bit of difference.
posted by emjaybee at 8:13 PM on August 13


Such an everyday thing, such a gendered thing, such a small thing and yet such a big thing.

I am a 43 year old man and I have only once worn any kind of makeup, when I played the Wicked Witch Of The West in a production of Wizard Of Oz at my school when I was eleven years old. Other than that? Never. And it has never particularly occurred to me to do so - once in a decade I might vaguely wonder what a bit of black eyeliner or nail varnish might do for me and been told no. And gone no further.

Meanwhile, my (female) beloved will pretty much not leave the house without spending between 30 minutes to an hour doing her face. I have told her repeatedly that I think she is just as gorgeous looking with as without makeup - and believe me, she really is stunning either way - but my view on this is entirely irrelevant in face of the fact that she does not feel comfortable in public without makeup. So makeup it is.

This is pretty much Women Experience The World Entirely Different To The Way Men Do 101. My beloved has stories of women she knows who make sure to always get up an hour earlier than their partners in order to put on full makeup - those partners have *never* seen their actual face. This horrifies me - she thinks it's hilarious.

Such a huge thing. It's not that women are forced to wear special masks as such, but it's pretty damn close.
posted by motty at 8:38 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah, on the one hand, women are often expected to draw a whole different face on top of their regular face to be considered presentable.

On the other hand, women get to draw a whole different face on top of their regular face and still be considered presentable.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:58 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


I don't feel like it's drawing on a face or putting on a mask or anything, for me. I look mostly the same. I'm just saying.
posted by sweetkid at 9:01 PM on August 13



One thing some men do is grow facial hair to give their face more definition, project more as male, cover a weak chin, etc. It isn't make-up but it is a means open to men that kind of checks off that box for some of them.


I grow facial hair for one reason - shaving my chin and that spot on my upper lip under my nose sucks.

And, I don't want to be all.... Hipster.

But men in makeup ? It's been done.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:02 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


pracowity: "If a corporate dress code ruled out high heels, makeup, and dresses at work, would that be a bad thing?"

Yes, because it would be paternalistic, inappropriate, ineffectual, and incredibly insulting.

And this espouses the idea that men's clothing is the "default" and fuck that. Men's clothing doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense either. I can look professional and classy in the summertime while nevertheless wearing seasonable clothing for 90 degree weather, while men are sweating and miserable because they are wearing twice as many articles of clothing.
posted by desuetude at 9:07 PM on August 13 [7 favorites]


Maybe it's because of my clubbing days in the late nineties, but there is something incredibly sexy about men wearing makeup. And now that I'm I'm a grown-up with a corporate job, I find myself impressed with men who get manicures. Moisturizer and buffed nails, gentlemen, and count your blessings for it.
posted by Ruki at 9:14 PM on August 13


Makeup should be optional. For any gender. I've gotten to the point that I feel like if you need me to spend money and time to put on a face that you find is presentable, I really don't care what you think of me. Except job interviews, where I know that my presentation will affect my ability to pay my rent. And it would.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 9:17 PM on August 13


So I like this silly little show called "Time Team". One of the players on that show had a moment - probably unscripted - where he said "Oh you do what you want" because he'd been frustrated by many people telling him that what he was doing (geophysics) wasn't going to take the show where the producers wanted. His voice was tight, like seriously holding it in, because he was doing SCIENCE.

Four minutes later, all that he'd said was proven: He'd found the anomaly, he'd made a huge part of the "plot" work. Despite being the minority in his beliefs, he'd forced the majority to really look at what he was saying, and when they did, they were forced to concede that he was right.

I want to get to a place in society where it's not always a "man" that gets to do that. I want to get to a place where "Oh, you do what you want" is taken as rote. When someone says "Do what you want", I want everyone to do exactly that.

Doesn't matter if it's makeup or geophysics. I just want everyone to do what they want.

Also, I might sound shitty when I say this, but I was always impressed by Time Team's approach to archaeologists, especially female archaeologists: that crew was made up of scientists and gender didn't seem to matter.. Just archaeologists, digging in the dirt. Many times, the females were definitely ahead of the men in knowing what they were talking about. Phil Harding knew about digging a ditch: Helen Geake knew how to interpret it.
posted by disclaimer at 9:21 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


motty: "My beloved has stories of women she knows who make sure to always get up an hour earlier than their partners in order to put on full makeup - those partners have *never* seen their actual face. This horrifies me - she thinks it's hilarious."

I know women like this and, while I zip my lip about it around them, it often makes me uncomfortable and sad. There are a lot of different ways to think about and wear makeup, and your wife and I are VERY different. To me, that's like wearing special-occasion makeup (which is more akin to theatrical makeup in philosophy), and I'm not down with that at all for regular daily use.

I am not wearing a mask to work everyday; you'd probably not think I was wearing any makeup if you saw me at the office. But I spend five minutes or less dabbing at my face while riding the subway, and what I get for this is analogous to the difference between a more flattering photo versus a photo in unfortunate light.

Meanwhile, men won't use a little tinted concealer to minimize the look of that big angry red pimple that's making them feel self-conscious or ugly, because the fear of doing anything perceived as feminine is so strong in our culture.
posted by desuetude at 9:39 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]


I don't wear makeup because as Barbra put it in The Mirror Has Two Faces, "I still look like me, only in color." Seriously, I only wear it to cover up zits and maybe once or twice a year I put it on otherwise. Nobody can tell the difference since I wear glasses (i.e. you can't see the eye makeup) and lipstick comes off so fast.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:56 PM on August 13


Whoa whoa whoa. At the 35 second mark is that an Elmer's gluestick being used on Mr Hairy McTanktop's browline? Because what is that all about? I wear makeup every day and having impeccable brows is pretty important to me but even that trick is not something I've seen before.

And I will just say, having a face full of cystic acne right now due to stress makes me VERY happy to be able to wear foundation to cover it all up. Makeup really does make ME feel better about my appearance - in the same way that a good-fitting bra does.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:28 PM on August 13


At the 35 second mark is that an Elmer's gluestick being used on Mr Hairy McTanktop's browline?

His eyebrows were probably super unruly and the makeup artist used it to keep them in place. I've only ever seen that trick used when one wanted to redraw the eyebrows completely, and there was no spirit gum on hand.
posted by supermassive at 10:53 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


joan_halloway the glue stick is a common drag trick for the eyebrows, in the absence of spirit gum (or in preference to).

Speaking of, if you've never watched drag queen makeup tutorial videos, you are missing out. You'll learn a lot about facial contouring and eyeshadow blending (if that's your thing) and even more about gender construction.

I love makeup, on me, on guys, whatever, if it makes you feel good. It lets you control a little piece of your gender construction/presentation, which can be super empowering. Plus, it can be practical; I'd hand out concealer to every human at puberty, just so they can feel confident in having a weapon against dark circles and zits.

Myself, I generally do 10ish minutes of simple makeup most mornngs, in the passenger seat during my commute ride. Even my eyelash curler. And full femme drag for fun. It's a relaxing, creative outlet that results in one million percent more personal fabulousness. These guys look pretty. Rock on, pretty guys.

In conclusion, 1970s David Bowie.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:13 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


I really hate the idea that if a woman is wearing makeup, she's hiding her real face. The extreme negative end of that sentiment is the dude-bros who rage about makeup being a lie to deceive and ensnare men, which is just so damn nutty I just can't even.

I like wearing makeup sometimes. I never really learned how to apply eye shadow or liner when I was younger, and I figured it was just an innate skill that I wasn't born with, and it kind of made me sad because dammit, sometimes eye shadow looks really damn cool. But every time I tried to apply it, I'd screw up somehow and look clownish, or I'd get it applied correctly but then it would end up being all worn off or in a dark greasy line in my eyelid crease within a few hours. Then I discovered two very important things: insanely cheap and effective eyelid primer and Makeup Geek. Actually having tutorials to hand-hold me through picking the right shades, using the right brushes, and drawing the right shapes on my eyelids to create a specific look? AMAZING. Also, it may sound really weird, but being able to do this after a very long time of telling myself it's a skill I just can't learn... well, now I'm thinking of trying to pick up some of the abandoned art projects I've talked myself out of for much the same reason that I stopped trying makeup. If I can master a 30-second two color smoky eye, who says I can't learn to draw?
posted by palomar at 11:36 PM on August 13 [20 favorites]


Dude who uses makeup a couple times a week, here. I'm a red-head, so every last blemish basically screams its existence to the heavens. A couple dabs of concealer gets me out the door without vomiting (much) at my own appearance. It's not really a thing other than that I have gone to comically enormous lengths to, um, conceal the concealer from other dudes. THEY CAN NEVER KNOW.

I really hate the idea that if a woman is wearing makeup, she's hiding her real face. The extreme negative end of that sentiment is the dude-bros who rage about makeup being a lie to deceive and ensnare men, which is just so damn nutty I just can't even.

I don't get why any person - let alone a man - would think they get a say on this? It's sort of a weird Taliban-ish stance they're adopting in the comments in that article. Even in the crazy-patriarchal fundie enclave I escaped from where "wives submit to your husbands" was/is the order of the day, I can't imagine any man daring to proffer an opinion like this to any woman, ever. He'd get stabbed. A jury of his peers would tell him he had it coming. 900-foot tall flowing white hair God scowls down at him from On High and silently shakes his head...

NO.
posted by Ryvar at 12:38 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


I'm a red-head, so every last blemish basically screams its existence to the heavens. A couple dabs of concealer gets me out the door without vomiting.

THIS YES. Those of us with vanilla pudding complexions show every red mark, every night of bad sleep, every EVERYTHING. Long live concealer for the pasty-faced!
posted by mostlymartha at 1:02 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


I'm a dude, and I have never gotten any compliments from strangers for any part of my appearance — until I painted my nails. I put on the colors of the rainbow, with glittery blue, and got nice words about it from several people per day, mostly ladies. Someone talked to me in the ATM line!

Now I'm just wearing pink nails, and they don't seem quite as dazzling. I think I'm going to have to get into water marbling...

So, so far my experience of makeup is very positive. It's also got me thinking... Here are some of my fragmentary thoughts, doubtlessly already explored by other clever people.

1.

Notice a guy's sartorial choice and he'll often immediately reply “yeah, this thing is super comfy” or “yeah, I found this in the garage” or “yeah, I like how it has pockets for all my stuff.” Rarely anything like “yeah, isn't it pretty?” Beneath these exchanges are coded messages about sexuality.

My regular ‘dude’ appearance is optimized for my own ease, and I like to say that this is because I'm lazy and so on, but I feel like that's partly a rationalization, and like the realer reason is that expending energy on looking good is girly, and therefore gay, and therefore somehow both weak and threatening, the exception being weight lifting

As a teenager dude, I was a computer nerd and not obviously effeminate in any way except that maybe I was a bit quiet and non-macho. Still, other guys would sometimes shout things at me and my friends, like ‘faggots’ etc. We would mostly be confused ’cause we weren't gay and didn't see the problem. We'd see other guys made fun of, bullied, and ostracized. Guys maintain the notion that being gay or girly is the most terrible thing possible.

So given the omnipresence of homophobia in its various forms, I think there's much more behind guys' choosing not to wear any makeup than just laziness. Maybe it's just too obvious to mention that for many guys, even thinking about their appearance is somehow associated with homosexuality and weakness.

2.

Painted nails, makeup, femininely attractive outfits stand out like the woman in the red dress. They're eye-catching, arresting, specular. When a little colored lacquer on my nails made strangers address me for my appearance for the first time in my life, I felt like I had hacked into another realm of existence: the space of public attention. Thankfully I live in parts of the world where fabulous nails on a guy seems to garner mostly positive attention.

A trans/queer reading of The Matrix.

Makeup and fashion are part of the social order, ‘the system.’ Femininity and masculinity are pillars of it. I suppose homophobia might not be primarily about ickiness, but about conservative fear regarding the social order. A kind of regulation of the flows of attraction, attention, desire, etc. Makeup is a very material and visible part of this. Funny how a jar of colored lacquer can be so powerful...

3.

Women's makeup as deceitful is obviously a paranoid stance, but there's a strong notion of femininity being related to illusion and artifice. An article about The Artifice of Femininity by Natalie Reed:
“In our present system of gender, when drawing the lines between femininity and masculinity, we’ve positioned the latter as being the natural, stripped down, down-to-earth, nice and simple, no-frills, no-frivolity concept. We like to imagine that the masculine is just pragmatic and to the point, lacking in any unnecessary aesthetic considerations. We imagine it to be efficient and direct. Conversely, the feminine is believed to be artifice, an elaborate costume, all just poses and aesthetics and frivolous dalliance, wholly lacking in any pragmatic value. It’s an ornament, rather than a tool, and is anything but direct, instead regarded as endlessly complex, subtle, mysterious and intuitive. Full of uncanny, inscrutable excesses like feelings and beauty and style. The feminine is fey, precious, wild, unknowable. The masculine is rational, basic, objective, and ever so apparent.”
She goes on to write about her experience of being a man, and the narrative of trans women “constructing” their femininity:
“What never receives focus is the degree to which this is for us a process that typically feels natural and like a relief, an unburdening of unnatural constraints… how the woman was not constructed, but already there. How transition is not about becoming a new person, but allowing yourself to stop hiding the person you already really were. What ends up on the cutting room floor are our discussions of how we fabricated and constructed an artificial male pose.

“Yes. We constructed our masculinity. The masculinity was the disguise, the unnatural state, the artifice, the pose that we crafted. It, not the femme, was superficial and shallow. It was the aesthetic consideration we had to deliberate upon and mind the details. It was the face we put on in the morning. It was the mannerisms we choreographed. The clothes we carefully chose. The uncomfortable shoes.”
She ends with a great quote from Oscar Wilde:
“Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know.”
posted by mbrock at 1:26 AM on August 14 [22 favorites]


I hate makeup, since I don't see any other women saying it. I understand other women don't feel like that and the following is how I feel, not how I think anyone else should feel or the only way to feel.

I resent the hell out of the fact I'm supposed to put slap on my face to be 'presentable'. I hate the way it feels on my skin, I hate the way much of it smells, I hate having to treat my face like an object, like a wall or other inanimate thing to be covered. I hate how much money it costs. It is not fun to me - it's drudgery and to me it feels like a mark of my less than human status in our civilization that I have to paint myself because I'm female.

I only wear it under strong compulsion, like job interviews, and I hate that, too, because since I'm not always drawing an acceptable 'feminine' face on myself I am really bad at it. But I hate it so much I refuse to waste my time on a skillset that to me emblematizes the fact our culture thinks my most important quality is how I look. I don't consider wearing makeup to be feminine - I feel that I can do feminine as a virtue of in fact being female, so feminine should be anything I do.
posted by winna at 4:13 AM on August 14 [15 favorites]


Meanwhile, men won't use a little tinted concealer to minimize the look of that big angry red pimple that's making them feel self-conscious or ugly, because the fear of doing anything perceived as feminine is so strong in our culture.

I don't know about anybody else, but (and I've given it a lot of consideration) the reason I wouldn't do anything like that is that if it looks like I have any emotional investment in my appearance, I'm exposing a weakness and turning myself into a target: the opposite of armour.

(The same thing has applied to clothing choice as well, though I've gone in a different direction over the last few years - whereas the idea was to choose clothing that was as unexceptional, as invisible or (failing that) as unloved and unloveable as possible - I now tend to choose clothes that I know are odd, or out of place - I often wear a tie, for example, especially on days off. I'm still aware of the judgement, but it's now something I have a distance from.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:31 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


You know this whole "feminism means men can't have any opinions or preferences about a woman's appearance" is just ludicrous. There's a world of difference between "in term of physical attraction I prefer X" and "all women should do X"

Maybe you are most attracted to guys who are jacked up gym rats, or lithe yogis, longbeard hippies or dorky computer nerds. Maybe you find a goatee and fedora not very appealing. I can prefer women who don't wear heels and makeup as part of a daily routine. You ladies can do whatever you want.
posted by crayz at 6:20 AM on August 14


it's pretty amazing how much lighter they decided to go with the black guy.

I can only speak to watching RuPaul's Drag Race and attending a number of drag shows in the DC area, but there is a healthy precedent for black men in makeup to wear a lighter shade than you'd think is called for. I mean, this is a professional painting himself (and the finished look).

There's tattoos and piercings that are or can be "masculine" but there's no makeup.

You're forgetting rockstars. A couple of people linked to K-pop and Poison above, but those are still pretty feminine styles. Dudes like this and this rock eyeliner and still look masculine overall. (Also it's driving me nuts, but I have a distinct image of a bald guy with a goatee and purple eyeshadow in my head, and all my first guesses--Queens of the Stone Age? Stabbing Westward? Machines of Loving Grace?--don't yield anything.)
posted by psoas at 6:30 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I'm a male-presenting person who would love to try this out.
posted by odinsdream at 6:36 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I suppose my mom, who wears a lot of makeup, assumed that I'd learn from my friends, but in fact I grew up not wearing makeup most of the time and I rarely wear it now. I have a little bag full of it, and every once in a while I get a weird yen to put some on, but I'm not good at it so even the most basic face takes a while for me to figure out. And then half the time I spend the rest of the day worrying: did I do it right? Do I look ok? Is it all coming off, does it look weird because I applied it under the florescent lights of the bathroom and am now standing out in the sun? Sometimes it's fun, and since I've developed a little red discoloration around my forehead and temples as I've gotten older, I feel like I should be wearing it more, but inertia usually wins out.

I've never received any direct social punishment for it, but I do sometimes feel odd about my femininity - I'm overweight, have broad shoulders and kind of a standard sling-the-ox-over-my-shoulder peasant body, and as I've talked about in some of the street harassment threads, I sometimes have to smother the notion that because I rarely have to face any sort of street harassment I'm, like, not much of a woman, yeah? That doesn't seem to change if I'm wearing makeup or not, but now that I'm in my very late thirties, it's probably too late to rethink some of my presentational choices, even if I could actually start making myself get up earlier to put on that makeup.
posted by PussKillian at 6:55 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, there is a bunch of men in showbiz who wear makeup besides Dave Navarro and Billie Joe Armstrong: Boy George, TAFKA Prince, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Steven Tyler, Jonny Depp, Jared Leto, Russel Brand, Pete Wentz, Adam Lambert to name a few. And this is visible makeup, I'm sure even more men wear concealer, foundation or powder, which is harder to spot.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:56 AM on August 14


Why is this considered a natural and beautiful expression of human creativity but somehow spending 5-10 minutes putting on eyeshadow and mascara to feel pretty is a sign of our lack of free will?

1) Because it's full face in colors not used by Americans. 2) It's exotic and done by the Other.

FYI, to those who don't know, the picture is of a young man from the Wodaabe tribe in Niger during the Gerewol, which is where "the young Wodaabe men, with elaborate make-up, feathers and other adornments, perform the Yaake: dances and songs to impress marriageable women. The male beauty ideal of the Wodaabe stresses tallness, white eyes and teeth." So this guy was also dressing up to look pretty.

And, his cosmetics are a "a natural and beautiful expression of human creativity" from a Western perspective. You have absolutely no idea how he feels about it. Or how Wodaa men in general feel about having to wear cosmetics and adornments to attract a wife. Maybe that guy hates it just as much as winna does.

"putting on eyeshadow and mascara to feel pretty is a sign of our lack of free will?"

American society socializes people to think that eyeshadow and mascara makes women (not people) attractive. There is nothing inherent in either of those things to make people attractive. It is completely about how you grew up. Where make up if you want, but finding that mascara and eyeshadow make women attractive is not something that happened ex nihilo. It's a result of the patriarchy.

The makeup worn in America today is derived from make up used by Hollywood to make actors look good. It was designed to make people look attractive and then it was marked to regular women to make a boat load of money.

On the other hand, women get to draw a whole different face on top of their regular face and still be considered presentable.

Not really. How many women in America go out wearing make up in like this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this or this.

The best you get is something like this. But even then it's not something worn to a job interview or while running to the grocery store.

If make up was actually about decoration or self expression, instead of fitting the cultural norms of being pretty and self-expression within those quite limited norms, I'd be wearing this right now.

In conclusion, Western makeup is boring as fuck and primarily designed to make women attractive. Which is why females are socially pressured to wear it. You can bet that if make up was actually decorative, dudes would be all over it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:21 AM on August 14 [12 favorites]



In conclusion, Western makeup is boring as fuck and primarily designed to make women attractive. Which is why females are socially pressured to wear it. You can bet that if make up was actually decorative, dudes would be all over it.


Totally. Which is why you get David Bowie and/or Kiss and/or the New York Dolls not George Hamilton when you think of men known for wearing make-up--you get the one who do actually use decorative make-up, not feature-enhancing or skin-smoothing make-up.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:27 AM on August 14


crayz: There's a world of difference between "in term of physical attraction I prefer X" and "all women should do X"

Well, there's the little issue that you think your opinion on the appearance of others should matter to these others. Most often, it does not.

nooneyouknow: The best you get is something like this. But even then it's not something worn to a job interview or while running to the grocery store.

You don't know enough goths :P

(I only do eyeliner swirlies when I'm dressed like Death of the Endless for Halloween, honest.)
posted by sukeban at 7:53 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Which is why you get David Bowie and/or Kiss and/or the New York Dolls not George Hamilton when you think of men known for wearing make-up--you get the one who do actually use decorative make-up, not feature-enhancing or skin-smoothing make-up.

...I mentioned goth? But you haven't seen what the visual kei guys do, either.
posted by sukeban at 8:04 AM on August 14


That, and generally people who think that actually do like makeup, they just like "natural" makeup, and think women wearing subtle makeup aren't wearing it at all because they don't have the experience to spot it and tell.

No, some of us really do prefer the look of women without makeup. Anyone with a partner who wears makeup knows what that partner looks like with and without makeup, and people often do have a preference. (I happen to prefer women without makeup - and men with makeup.).

In an ideal world, everyone should be able to chose - I've been lucky to work in places where I really could wear makeup or be bare as my whim took me. But it's not an ideal world: women are still being fired/not hired for not wearing makeup. And I dread one day having to work at such a place.

One could say that both men and women are placed under unfair burdens - men to not wear makeup, women to wear makeup.
posted by jb at 8:53 AM on August 14


You ladies can do whatever you want.

Gee, thanks for the permission, dad.
posted by palomar at 8:57 AM on August 14 [8 favorites]


I was largely joking about the drawing a new face on top of your face thing. Normally, when I wear makeup, it's just some tinted moisturizer or something, and the last time I really felt like I needed to wear makeup, it was because I had an extended illness and just didn't want to look so sick. I am serious about there being benefits and drawbacks to the gendered cultural expectations, though.

There are some benefits to being able to wear makeup to look less sick or younger or something, although those often become expectations and backfire on us.

However, a lot of times, makeup is a lot more than simply making yourself look generically healthy or 'pretty,' even within the range of makeup that doesn't come across as costumish.

Take Tilda Swinton or Frieda Kahlo. Both have/had distinctive makeup styles, but they both were more about looking I guess cool than simply looking like prettier versions of themselves. Normal non-celebrity women make all kinds of little editorial choices like that with even their normal daily makeup as well. Maybe they like a modified smoky eye or a stylized bat wing thing. Maybe they choose whitish lipstick or really dark, wear blush to rosy up their cheeks or foundation to tone them down. I saw the coolest looking young woman the other day, in fact. She was wearing warm earth tones and had a gold lame bag and this very subtle but distinctive sort of golden toned highlighter or something I guess, and she just looked like she had a golden halo almost. Not Halloweenish or out of place just walking around in the daytime or anything, but it was very much a distinctive look. Pretty, but also just really really cool and I guess I want to say editorial. And it was clearly not simply an obligation. She was having fun with it.

The issue can be very much fraught, of course, but I think it's a mistake to think of it just as a simplistically gendered performance (it is, but it's not only that). Women are doing lots of cool, fun things that aren't all about the male gaze.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:05 AM on August 14 [5 favorites]


I don't know about anybody else, but (and I've given it a lot of consideration) the reason I wouldn't do anything like that is that if it looks like I have any emotional investment in my appearance, I'm exposing a weakness and turning myself into a target: the opposite of armour.

(The same thing has applied to clothing choice as well, though I've gone in a different direction over the last few years - whereas the idea was to choose clothing that was as unexceptional, as invisible or (failing that) as unloved and unloveable as possible - I now tend to choose clothes that I know are odd, or out of place - I often wear a tie, for example, especially on days off. I'm still aware of the judgement, but it's now something I have a distance from.)


Speaking from the male-presenting perspective, I can totally relate to this. In professional settings for males there is definitely this strange conflict between looking like you didn't try, versus not being a slob. Plenty of times I've chosen to go with stubble in the morning instead of shaving quite intentionally. Visual presentation is a huge part of cultural communication and it certainly isn't the case that males are exempted from this process at all, despite the lack of traditionally-female makeup playing a role.

It's a big ball of homophobic/transphobic/mysogynist/sexist shit in a lot of ways.
posted by odinsdream at 9:11 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I'm almost totally male-presenting at work, and I've somewhat recently taken to wearing a bit of makeup to the office when I have a few minutes to spare in the morning (usually a couple times a week). It's all as subtle as I can make it, a sort of prettification of my natural features, mostly to draw attention to the parts of my face I like best. A bit of concealer under my eyes, some powder for my shiny bits, flesh-tone eye shadow, a touch of mascara, some light blush. I'll put on some lipstick and take it off a few minutes later to leave behind just a shade of color. I've gotten pretty quick, though for work I spend less time putting it on that I do trying to tone it down when I move a little past ambiguity-at-conversation-distance.

No one has said anything directly yet, but I've noticed that people treat me differently, and in turn I end up responding differently. Coworkers look at my eyes a lot more, so there's more engagement and a stronger connection during conversations. People tend to find me more ... disarming or trustworthy or something? It's hard to describe, but short interactions like buying coffee last a little longer and feel a little warmer. I'm sure part of it is just the boost in confidence I feel when I'm made up, but I'm almost as sure that the change is happening on both sides of the encounter. It's the difference between being asked, "Did you get a tan?" and being told, "You look tired today."

When I went out to see a show on Broadway last Saturday, for the first time ever I just said "fuck it" and went out how I felt like it. The quizzical looks and triple-takes I got from the early city crowd on the way in were uncomfortable at first, but I started to find them really empowering after a while, though I have no idea what power I was granted. I guess I felt self-actualized in a new way? (The kids and the drunks on the train home did not give one apparent damn about my face, which was also cool.)
posted by WCWedin at 9:14 AM on August 14 [9 favorites]


As to the video, my favorite part was their first reactions upon seeing themselves. They studied their own faces, played with their expressions, connected with the makeup artist, and laughed. They all were caught totally off-guard, and you can watch them coming to terms with the power of makeup and the malleability of appearance. They were reconciling their internal self-image and what they're seeing in the mirror – and enjoying the dissonance. Sure, they had to be game already to volunteer, and likely none of them changed their habits as a result of their experience, but it was refreshing to see men seeing themselves as pretty and almost unreservedly relishing it for a moment in their own ways.
posted by WCWedin at 10:46 AM on August 14 [6 favorites]


I don't normally wear makeup. I do tend to try to make it look like I'm not even when I am. Because, and this is the bit that frustrates me, the single reason I ever actually wear it is to deal with blemishes. So there's an additional layer to it: Everybody with "bad skin" is at a fundamental disadvantage in professional settings. Women with "bad skin" even more, because people are accustomed to seeing women with artificially adjusted skin tones. I'm totally on board with makeup for adornment purposes, I do it myself maybe twice a year, and lots of women do wear it for adornment purposes, but even more it's a mix of the two. And maybe if you were just wearing it for adornment, and not because being seen with a red splotch is positively humiliating, you'd make entirely different choices in color/styles. Foundation/concealer bugs me a lot more than lipstick and eyeshadow. I've never worried about whether someone who met me while wearing lipstick would be disgusted by seeing me without. I have definitely worried this about concealer.
posted by Sequence at 11:23 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


Every man I've dated has insisted "you, and all women, look BETTER without makeup!" But no boyfriend has ever, EVER, spontaneously complimented me on my appearance when I am not wearing makeup. In fact, I only get the unsolicited "you look so cute tonight" when I amp UP the face-paint beyond my daily regular stuff. (I have also tested other variables, such as hairstyle, clothing, and types of makeup. It turns out that the common threshold is eyeliner.)

I would love to understand the impulse behind men's adamant insistence on a thing they just very very obviously and observably do not believe. I have a number of theories but after 20ish years of this crap none of those theories is particularly charitable.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:07 PM on August 14 [18 favorites]


Simple, you come out of the powder room with your game face on, we have to say something... and what's the alternative?

"Honey... just wanted to say you look so much better WITH makeup!"

I don't know, as a guy I'm doing the cost-benefit analysis and telling the truth doesn't seem like the smart move here... not many scenarios where the night ends well. And I can't say nothing, so lying really turns out to be the best choice. Boom, guy logic
posted by mrbigmuscles at 4:00 PM on August 14


I would love to understand the impulse behind men's adamant insistence on a thing they just very very obviously and observably do not believe.

Most decent progressive people actively seek to avoid being agents of the fucked-up patriarchal order - they want to believe that they believe, even if they absolutely haven't overcome their social programming at all. That's not much of a start, but cluelessness probably beats active resistance.

My girlfriend and I are currently working on my comically bad timing when it comes to compliments designed to help bolster her. Based on current progress I anticipate finishing mastering that skill roughly a century after my prospective death from natural causes. I sincerely doubt I am alone in this basic deficiency.
posted by Ryvar at 4:05 PM on August 14 [4 favorites]


Man, mrbigmuscles, that actually makes a lot of sense to me, so thank you. I'm lucky enough to be with a human who's good at just remarking any time he finds me nice-looking (and he has it easier, as I only wear makeup maybe twice a year?), so I think that's probably the way around it.

But, yeah, I can totally see that moment of, "Oh, there is a large effort that I appreciate and want to acknowledge," as being one of slight interpersonal danger for all involved. Just toss around the compliments any time you're being appreciative, makeup or not.

I wonder if there's ever been a couple where for formal occasions, the dude applies the woman's makeup while she sits back and points her eyeballs in the right places for all that eye goop. Sounds like a nice, possibly hilarious, time. She can tuck in his shirt and tie his tie. Even-steven.
posted by lauranesson at 5:06 PM on August 14


When I was young, I looked pretty good without makeup, because I was young, so I didn't wear much. At my present age, I do not look better without makeup. My eyes are red around the edges, I have wrinkling, my skin is slack in spots and discolored in other spots, there are broken veins here and there, the hair on my upper lip is longer, and the general skin tone is much ashier. I still don't wear much, mind you. But anyone who says I look better without makeup is trying to get something out of me.
posted by Peach at 9:31 PM on August 14


I happened to have this shared with me yesterday:
I Do My Boyfriends Makeup! My 200th Video Celebration!
posted by Michele in California at 9:15 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


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