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Making Do Without Making Up
September 21, 2010 8:23 AM   Subscribe

"Make-up is great. It is a powerful tool, a way to express yourself, your mood and interior life. But, when you can’t go without something, it loses its spark." We are two days into Rabbit Write's NO MAKE-UP WEEK.
posted by hermitosis (227 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Smilex deaths are going to plummet.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:25 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Conversely, should men be trying out makeup this week?
posted by nomadicink at 8:25 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


A study online claims that 8 out of 10 women prefer their female colleagues to wear makeup

Is this true? Whether it is or not, it is without question the statement that has most made me insecure about the fact that I don't wear makeup. Honestly, I'm surprised and I can't say for sure why it's had this effect on me but that statistic (unsourced) has me really shaken up, and now I sort of want to start wearing makeup but also feel like then I would be caving to ridiculous, imagined peer pressure. Jesus, what an awful and insidious statement.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:30 AM on September 21, 2010 [19 favorites]


I'm absolutely taken with a young woman on YouTube who has a popular series of makeup tutorial videos. She shoots them all in HD and very high closeup for details. The extreme zoom on what men are not really supposed to witness in the first place (make-up application) makes them little Cronenbergian doses for me, available on-demand.

Seriously, have you ever seen eyeliner expertly applied with the eye the size of an 18-inch monitor? It's incredible.
posted by griphus at 8:34 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's interesting to me that her picture from Day 1 is posed seductively, with cleavage on display.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:34 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the link TPS!
posted by nomadicink at 8:36 AM on September 21, 2010


I want to be 23 and have nothing better to worry about than whether or not I wear makeup for a week. Oh wait - I wouldn't have given a shit then and I really don't now. It is what it is.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:40 AM on September 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'd like some more information about that study, too, especially who funded it and what kind of questions they asked. If they asked about 'grooming' or 'style' -- that's a bit different from 'wearing makeup'.

I don't wear makeup, and it's made no difference to my successful professional life (I'm a prof). I love fashionable clothes (I buy designer stuff from Holts now that I can afford it) and shoes (most recent purchase, Martin Margiela cone-heeled ankle boots). I spend money on haircuts and especially glasses; I wear jewelry. But I don't take 10 minutes in the morning to put on eyeshadow: I'd rather eat breakfast.

None of my female colleagues wear makeup that I can tell. I've never worked in an office where most women did, either.

I call bullshit.
posted by jrochest at 8:42 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


If I felt like I had to paint my face to be seen in public, it would probably take me more than a week to form any sort of opinion on figuring out how to have a healthier relationship with make up/body image/patriarchal expectations.

It seems like a cop out.
posted by lydhre at 8:42 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


And forgive me, my Outnet.com email just arrived: I'm going shopping.
posted by jrochest at 8:44 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's funny. I never wore make-up much until after I shaved my hair off. It's like suddenly I didn't fulfill the feminine quota anymore without my long locks and I had to make up (ha!) for it in some other way. So I started wearing make-up most days and then as my hair grew out I lost the need for it again so that now I'm back to using none unless I'm doing something special. I'd never really connected the two occurrences until now, even though I remember specifically feeling like I needed to wear make-up in order to be acceptable and if I didn't, I wasn't a 'real' woman. I realised then and now how damn irrational that is but it's still a hard cycle of thought to break. I just wonder if even by taking away one product of defined femininity we only end up replacing it with another.
posted by liquorice at 8:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I don't know why anyone would be surprised to discover that MetaFilter users don't necessarily fit the norm when it comes to lots of these issues. That doesn't mean it's not interesting to explore them, or watch others explore them.
posted by hermitosis at 8:48 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


with cleavage on display

It's always surprising to discover that other people have a different definition of "cleavage" than I do.
posted by muddgirl at 8:49 AM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I find it a little ironic that this exercise, designed to free women from the shackles of
makeup, is making me feel like a giant weirdo for not having this problem in the first place.

For me, makeup is for nights out, appearing on panels and job interviews. I didn't think this was causing me any problems, but apparently it makes other women not want to hire me?

.....Good to know....?
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:51 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mrs Pterodactyl, that was the stat that really arrested me, too. I find it hard to believe that I'm being that radical simply because I'm barely capable of brushing my hair before I leave the house, let alone taking the five minutes to put on a bit of slap. It seems so sad that for some women, this is a truly difficult, huge experiment. I sort of want to read about it, but I'm also really startled by how it makes me feel just reading the quick explanation of what the week's about.
posted by kalimac at 8:53 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's funny. I never wore make-up much until after I shaved my hair off. It's like suddenly I didn't fulfill the feminine quota anymore without my long locks and I had to make up (ha!) for it in some other way.

When I shaved off my hair, someone (a roommate, a sweet girl who probably truly was trying to be helpful) told me that, in plain terms- now that you don't have hair, you'll need to wear more makeup, or guys will think you're a lesbian.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:56 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't really comment on the topic because the only time I notice someone is wearing make-up is when they are wearing too much but...

griphus: "Seriously, have you ever seen eyeliner expertly applied with the eye the size of an 18-inch monitor? It's incredible."

Women (and emo kids) everywhere have my undying admiration for being able to apply eyeliner to themselves day after day. I have had done it twice for Halloween costumes and they both were harrowing experiences, with tears and whimpers of horror included.

Watching people doing it in moving cars triggers an Eye Scream for me.
posted by Memo at 8:57 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like makeup. It's fun! I wouldn't give up doing something fun every day.
posted by padraigin at 8:59 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


None of my female colleagues wear makeup that I can tell. I've never worked in an office where most women did, either.

the only time I notice someone is wearing make-up is when they are wearing too much


This is often the goal - to appear as if wearing no makeup. That is, one's eyelashes are naturally long and thick, no blemishes or dark circles, rosy cheeks and lips...
posted by Pax at 9:01 AM on September 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Often the goal particularly at work--nights out, women may want to look actually "made-up."
posted by Pax at 9:02 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really do not and can not believe that any of my female co-workers give a damn whether anyone has paint on their faces. And far too many women wear too much of the stuff.

The very idea that women "need" makeup is patently offensive. Gotta keep the girls insecure so they'll keep buying and wearing the wildly overpriced product, right? If it's something you want to do and enjoy doing, fine. But to go all Tammy Faye Baker about it (she claimed she was never seen without paint) is just sad.

I'm with jrochest--I call bullshit. Not only that but I question how much the cosmetics industry has to do with this nonsense.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:03 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I shaved off my hair, someone (a roommate, a sweet girl who probably truly was trying to be helpful) told me that, in plain terms- now that you don't have hair, you'll need to wear more makeup, or guys will think you're a lesbian.

Yeah, I got quite a few horrified reactions from women and men alike when I informed them of my intentions. People wanted to pay me to stop me from doing it. They were sure I was going to "deform myself" somehow. It was all very ridiculous and overblown but it certainly fed into my insecurities, that's for sure.
posted by liquorice at 9:03 AM on September 21, 2010


I don't wear makeup. If pressed, I could probably count (using my fingers) the exact number of times in my life I have worn makeup, and they were all for "special events" in high school. (Well, except for when I did one-act plays in middle school, but that's different.) For things like the proms I was forced to go to because that was the socially acceptable thing to do and for reception ceremonies for academic awards that I had earned by my no-makeup wearing self.

I never wanted to wear it. Every time I have ever worn makeup, it has been begrudgingly. If pressed, I could probably count (using my fingers) the exact number of times in my life my mother has chased me around the house with a foundation sponge, screaming at me like my not wearing makeup is some personal affront to her dignity.

I don't care at all if people around me wear makeup, so it's really weird to me that other people care if I do. I feel sorry for people who feel like they need to wear makeup to look "normal" or fit in.
posted by phunniemee at 9:13 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]



Conversely, should men be trying out makeup this week?


I would LOVE for this to happen, but then, I'm a little weird.
posted by newpotato at 9:15 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


My sister bought into the beauty magazine myth pretty early in life. I think she started buying the teen equivalents at about 12, BEGGED my parents to let her start wearing makeup around then, they finally relented when she was around 14, and she's pretty much painted herself and spent EONS on her hair regularly since then.

She's done this even when close friends of hers would tell her that she would look better if she wasn't quite so "done up" all the time. She does it even if she's out of milk for breakfast and is just running to the store to grab some.

I've heard her make pretty directed comments (usually to herself but out loud) about how horrible it is that some woman isn't wearing any makeup. "Why doesn't she care about how she looks?" That kind of thing.

I think a lot of it is a mindset which is fostered and nurtured by the industry through its main platform -- the "woman's magazine". As far as I can tell, with the women I've known, the ones who find those magazines the most interesting are the ones who are most likely to wear makeup. The ones who don't buy Redbook or whatever are the ones who don't wear makeup.
posted by hippybear at 9:17 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is interesting that this site is filtered at my work place due to "pornographic content." And y'all don't seem to be having that much fun looking at it!
posted by Danf at 9:20 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forget societal pressures regarding makeup and the wearing thereof - at the tender age of twelve my unsteady hand and an extremely liquid eyeliner had an altercation with my eye and a hard contact lens. I don't think my tear ducts stopped watering for fifteen minutes. Searing agony on cornea ≠ looking good, at least not for me.

Also once wore a bit of foundation and whatnot for a fancy place, put on my motorcycle helmet, got to said fancy place, pulled off helmet and had aforementioned makeup end up smeared on the inside of the cushioned padding lining the helmet. I'll wear makeup the day they come up with something that stays put when you yank a Shoei off your face - that stuff took forever to clean off.
posted by zennish at 9:24 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wearing make-up is like putting on a light but confident, sexy mask for a lot of people, myself included. I envy people who can go completely without it and still look fantastic, but I feel better about myself with a bit of eyeliner and foundation. It really doesn't take much to transform a face from dull to magnetic. Heavy dependency is a different story, but I don't quite understand some of the reactions/comments to the entire affair. Maybe it's a generational thing? Regional difference? Personality trait?

For me it's just a quick way to make myself more presentable after waking up, much like styling my hair. I've gone with and without, out of laziness, and I know I prefer spending the few extra minutes in front of that mirror. YMMV!
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 9:25 AM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


A public discourse on private matters, Rabbit Write is a blog about sex and intimacy. Guess that would probably trip the filters.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:26 AM on September 21, 2010


Oddly enough, my partner and I had a conversation about make-up last night. Just before we headed out for a casual dinner with friends, I grabbed my make-up bag and slapped on a tiny bit of color. He mentioned that my clean face looked pretty and why bother when no one there cares if I'm made up or not and the overall effect is, to his eye, indiscernable?

I explained: our friends don't consciously cares if I'm made up, true. But if I'm bare-faced, with dark circles and no blush, someone will tell me I "look tired" or ask if I'm feeling okay. If I spend three minutes slapping on powder and mascara, no one says that. The effect of a tiny bit of make-up is slight, but it's real.

And that's the insidious part of the pressure to wear make-up at work and for other public appearances: it's probably true that your co-workers (and, more crucially, employers and hiring committees) don't care whether you're wearing make-up. But they do notice whether a woman looks bright and fresh-faced. For me (as for many women) the alternatives are:
- wear a tiny bit of make-up and look even-toned and bright-faced, or
- wear no make-up and show my dark circles and my uneven complexion.

I know that employers prefer the former, though I sometimes prefer the latter.
posted by Elsa at 9:29 AM on September 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


I grew up in the South and unlike many ladies here, I can't really imagine not wearing makeup. You just don't leave the house sans "your face" where I come from, even if that's been toned down since moving North to be a tinted moisturizer and a little brightening eyeshadow.
posted by melissam at 9:29 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Coincidentally, I'm in about the 35th year of a no makeup life. So far so good.
posted by jokeefe at 9:29 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have had done it twice for Halloween costumes and they both were harrowing experiences, with tears and whimpers of horror included.

During my more experimental style days, I asked a friend -- a stage make-up technician -- to put some eyeliner on me. She gets the pencil, cooks the tip under a lighter, gets in real, real close, and brandishing this hot little spike says "roll your eye up and stay completely still."

In those 30 seconds, I gained a whole lot more respect for women. Even the ones who don't wear any are expected to do this as the norm. Daily. Holy god.
posted by griphus at 9:31 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


None of my female colleagues wear makeup that I can tell. I've never worked in an office where most women did, either.

I call bullshit.


I do too, but for different reasons. This is probably the source of her statistics. (That article points to this.)

The London College of Fashion isn't necessarily going to poll a truly random base of people. I suspect their results are biased.

That said, my wife wears makeup. It takes her anywhere from 5-15 minutes to apply in the morning.

I work in an office where most of my co-workers are women. Every single one of them wears at least some makeup. In fact, I've never worked in an office where a majority of the women I worked with didn't wear at least some makeup.

Your personal experiences aren't universal. Neither are mine. I wouldn't try to draw wide-sweeping conclusions from what either of us have experienced.
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


None of my female colleagues wear makeup that I can tell.

Yeah, that's sort of the point of the kind of makeup you wear to work.
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on September 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


I have always been fascinated with makeup, from the time I was a child. Between the advertising I was exposed to and my mom's relationship with it, it seemed that make-up had REAL MAGICAL POWERS and conferred special powers to the wearer.

Which is not exactly untrue. Spending years working in theater really cemented that idea in my head, it is amazing how a few small markings here and there can DRASTICALLY change the way someone is perceived, and even more drastically change the way they see and express themself.

I will never forget the times in the makeup room when straight guys had their stage makeup done for them for the first time. Seeing what they looked like made up blew their mind -- there are few rites of passage for men that involve radically changing their appearance. You could see these guys suddenly assessing themselves by wholly different standards, tilting their faces to see the different angles, almost hypnotized. I don't think it ever occurred to them what it must be like to take complete control over how every one of your facial features is perceived, or what a potentially incredible tool that could be, either on- or offstage.

It definitely changes one's relationship with one's own ego, and considering how early girls start wearing makeup these days -- becoming adept at meticulously reconfiguring their entire physical presences to whatever ideal they aspire to -- it shouldn't be surprising that a vast amount of them wind up developing a very unhealthy relationship with it. As Rabbit Write says, what could be a valuable tool becomes an entire unconscious obsession, a psychological need. I know plenty of women who are completely in thrall to it, to the point where it becomes an obstacle to intimacy with the men in their lives. After all, in these women's minds, it's the false face that snagged the man in the first place, and so the mask mustn't be allowed to slip even for a second.
posted by hermitosis at 9:36 AM on September 21, 2010 [30 favorites]


That image is more suitable for "CARRY A SKUNK WEEK", which I would support pretty enthusiastically.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:38 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've always thought that the unfortunate message of wearing makeup was that you were not good enough without a mask. It has always communicated to me a howling insecurity. I know that when things like makeup are normal routines, that that is not the reason people do them. They do them because they can't resist spreading sparkly-bright petrochemicals all over their faces.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:39 AM on September 21, 2010


I had a couple of (very dear) friends spontaneously haul me into a place in Manhattan for a free make-over thing-- sitting on a high chair under a light, the whole business. What I had applied to my face was apparently just some light makeup, but I felt like a circus clown, and was wholly relieved to wipe it off at the end of the day.

I have a hard time getting past was makeup means and why only women are expected to wear it, and the other big question: when people say that you look "better" with makeup, what exactly are they referring to? You know what I mean? Is it that your eyes look bigger, and therefore trigger who knows what elemental responses in the viewer? Is it that you hide the actual texture of your skin, mimicking youthfulness? Make your lips look like you're experiencing sexual arousal? I know, I know, makeup is supposed to be "fun" and just part of how you present yourself, and I can understand women who see it as play. For me, it's just a massive plate of face-beans.
posted by jokeefe at 9:41 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


becoming adept at meticulously reconfiguring their entire physical presences to whatever ideal they aspire to

But but but you don't reconfigure your entire physical presence. (Maybe with theatrical makeup, but that's hardly what most people wear every day.) All you do is put on makeup--so you just look basically the same, except that you're wearing makeup. You see? It's nothing magical, outside of the theatre.
posted by jokeefe at 9:45 AM on September 21, 2010


That said, my wife wears makeup. It takes her anywhere from 5-15 minutes to apply in the morning.

My wife goes through the same thing. It makes me feel bad, because most days, I can't even be bothered to shave.

Laziness has a name, and it is "quin".
posted by quin at 9:51 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


A public discourse on private matters, Rabbit Write is a blog about sex and intimacy. Guess that would probably trip the filters.

So I can trust you to save me the good stuff, TPS? Old pal?
posted by Danf at 9:52 AM on September 21, 2010


But but but you don't reconfigure your entire physical presence.

No, you don't. Much like high heels, pantyhose and other uncomfortable articles of style thrust upon women but not men, women should be free to decide whether they want to join in or not, and to what extent. My goth friends (of both genders) ply that makeup on like nobody's business in high school, while the anarchofeminist punk girls refuse to shave their pits and legs, for as much statement as comfort. Choice is the keyword here. Let the reconfiguree decide what needs to be and where.
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


in high school

Screw the edit window, I need a goddamn editor.

posted by griphus at 9:55 AM on September 21, 2010


I'm just going to say one thing here:

Of course, women are free to present themselves however they like, and have no obligation to look any particular way for me. But for whatever it's worth, I happen to prefer ladies without makeup.

Now, every time I say that, women respond with hollow, derisive laughter, and assure me that the women who I think are not wearing makeup are in fact wearing at least foundation, and that if I saw a woman who really wasn't wearing makeup, I would surely think her a hideous troll, and would stop saying ridiculous things about preferring women without makeup. (This happened in another MeFi thread recently, though it was in response to another commenter.)

And, you know, I'm pretty sure I've seen women that I know aren't wearing makeup. Such as girlfriends who I have just watched remove their makeup, and so on. But, just in case I've hallucinated these incidents, I checked out this photo gallery.

Yep. I prefer women without makeup.

Again, ladies: do whatever you like. Wear makeup, don't wear makeup, wear a human femur in your nose, whatever. It's none of my business.

All I'm trying to express is my continual amazement at the number of women who are convinced, beyond all argument and reason, that they're hideous trolls unless they're wearing some kind of cosmetic product. Who feel obligated to mention when they're not wearing makeup in a particular Facebook photo, like they're apologizing for something. For whom the notion of opting out and simply not buying or using these products is unthinkable.

The marketing people at the cosmetics companies have certainly been doing their jobs well. (And, in the last few years, they've realized that the male half of the population represents a vast, untapped market—and they've started trying to inculcate the same insecurities in men—your skin hasn't been exfoliated! those bags under your eyes are hideous! your crotch is too hairy!—so they can sell the same potions in different packaging.)

Deodorant was originally marketed exclusively to women, and for a long time was regarded as prissy and effeminate. Surely, it's just a matter of time before they figure out how to convince guys that they're hideous without makeup too.

I don't mean to pass judgement on anyone here. It's just a very strange thing to observe from the outside.
posted by ixohoxi at 9:56 AM on September 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Between the advertising I was exposed to and my mom's relationship with it, it seemed that make-up had REAL MAGICAL POWERS and conferred special powers to the wearer.

Well, it's not called "glamour" for nothing....
posted by hippybear at 10:01 AM on September 21, 2010


Grrr. that first bit should be in italics.
posted by hippybear at 10:02 AM on September 21, 2010


But for whatever it's worth, I happen to prefer ladies without makeup.

Whatever is it worth, I wonder? Every time there's a thread on this topic, someone (from what I've seen, it's always a straight man, feel free to prove me wrong) comes in to announce, definitively, that they prefer women without makeup. As though that settles it, as though every woman in the world should now act accordingly ("Do whatever you like", you say, but going on, it seems as though you find the women who aren't doing what you like worthy of your pity). Why do you suppose that is?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:05 AM on September 21, 2010 [38 favorites]


Data point w/r/t men wearing makeup: I've never seen a real-life woman or man with as much obvious and garish makeup as manly man Sean Connery had on in the Bond movies. Somebody explain that one.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 10:13 AM on September 21, 2010


Every time there's a thread on this topic, someone (from what I've seen, it's always a straight man, feel free to prove me wrong) comes in to announce, definitively, that they prefer women without makeup.

Yeah I always notice this too. I feel it's probably guys who want to prove that they are feminist sympathizers, which is totes adorbs, but it is a pretty predictable response and when sung in chorus it does begin to have weird implications like you've pointed out.
posted by hermitosis at 10:13 AM on September 21, 2010


Oh, for fuck's sake. I thought I made it pretty clear that I don't think my opinion on the matter "settles it". I specifically disclaimed this notion three times, actually, because I knew that someone was going to chastise me for daring to express said opinion. But if you're already convinced that those disclaimers are just boilerplate bullshit, and that you know better than I do what I really mean, then there's hardly anything I can say to defend myself, is there?
posted by ixohoxi at 10:13 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Whenever the opportunity comes to wear lots of make-up, I'll probably take it. I view the eye make-up selection at most counters as something like the paint selection at an art supply store and tend to salivate over things like peacock blues flecked with shiny gold or eyeshadow quads of oranges and magentas and lime greens and all those items you're supposed to avoid if "subtle" is the intent. I don't wear these everyday (though more often than my age and lifestyle might indicate), but I love them. And I'm not exactly alone

Most of the women in my immediate circle have admitted to having self-control issues when it comes to visiting, say, Sephora--the endless colors and clever packages and brushes and oooh look that that lipgloss palette. They have complicated cosmetic/skin care regimes, walls of hair product and drawers full of compacts. And you'd probably never know that if you saw them on the street, where they appear to be fresh-faced, young and low-maintenance.

In my experience: It takes a lot of time, money and energy to look good while looking like you don't give a fuck.
posted by thivaia at 10:15 AM on September 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


I know that my makeup-wearing daughter is at her most beautiful when she's fresh out of the shower and doesn't have drop of makeup on yet. At least to me. But she tells me I'm old and just don't get it.
Oh well.
posted by cccorlew at 10:15 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not trying to chastise you and you don't need to "defend" yourself; I'm just hoping you can dig a little deeper and think about your comment in a greater context. If you don't want to, that's OK, too; but don't be alarmed that the rest of us might want to continue that part of the conversation.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:17 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think it's a nice change to have a guy say he prefers women without it. I don't think he's trying to tell women what to do, but just providing one little counterpoint to a whole sea of men who won't even talk to a woman who's not wearing it. (Thankfully, most of those men aren't anywhere near my circle of friends.)

Sigh, I've recently acquired a few girlfriends who wear it all the time. It's the first time I've ever been conscious of not wearing it. We'll sit around eating dinner and in the back of my mind I'll be feeling a little weird and naked. I'm sure I'll get over it, but it's an interesting experience for me.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:17 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mrs. KokuRyu, who is from Japan, wears makeup primarily as a way to protect her skin from the harsh UV light here in Canada. She's always amazed at how women in Canada never seem to cover up or wear makeup, especially in summer, because it will lead to earlier wrinkles and freckles.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:17 AM on September 21, 2010


I grew up in the South and unlike many ladies here, I can't really imagine not wearing makeup. You just don't leave the house sans "your face" where I come from

This is not true across the entire South, however -- I grew up there too, and never felt any pressure to wear makeup.
posted by JanetLand at 10:20 AM on September 21, 2010


Make-up is fantastic. There's something about the application process that I just love. The daily color palette selection - should I go monochromatic? Matte? Sparkly? Rocker? Natural? Incomplete? Contrasty? Matching with the outfit? Or the jewelry? Or both? It's the endless choices. I walk into a Sephora and I literally feel intoxicated by the long rows of beautiful rich colors. It's creative and fun.

I didn't even start really getting into make-up until my thirties. I have quite a bit of products I think, but they're all really good quality powders and brushes. I've probably spent too much and maybe there's vanity and insecurity or whatever issues people want to pin on it. I certainly have more make-up pieces than clothing at this point in my life (and I only own three pairs of shoes). It's a complex relationship for sure. I would happily give it up for a week, but it'd be a small struggle. Because it's an enjoyable part of some of my days. Very much the same way having good foodie treats in the fridge is, or a nice liquor collection to tinker with on various nights.

So yeah, I might be wearing the same shirt and jeans you've seen a million times already, but who knows what spectacular colors my ageing eyelids will be sporting, if any at all!
posted by iamkimiam at 10:21 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Watching people doing it in moving cars triggers an Eye Scream for me."

On the subway! Yikes.
posted by Jahaza at 10:22 AM on September 21, 2010


Whatever is it worth, I wonder? Every time there's a thread on this topic, someone (from what I've seen, it's always a straight man, feel free to prove me wrong) comes in to announce, definitively, that they prefer women without makeup.

They also do this here for a wide range (if not all) of women's appearance issues, especially in the whole "skinny-vs-fat" range of discussions. It really creeps me out.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:26 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Personally, I think it's a nice change to have a guy say he prefers women without it. I don't think he's trying to tell women what to do, but just providing one little counterpoint to a whole sea of men who won't even talk to a woman who's not wearing it. (Thankfully, most of those men aren't anywhere near my circle of friends.)

Maybe it's the circles I run in, both online and in real life, but to me a guy saying he prefers women without makeup is so common it's practically a trite cliche by now. And I should know, I'm guilty of it too! But it does create an atmosphere where women can feel like they're doing something wrong if they like using makeup.
posted by kmz at 10:28 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Most of the women in my immediate circle have admitted to having self-control issues when it comes to visiting, say, Sephora

If I go in Sephora, I'm not coming out without a whole new face!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:29 AM on September 21, 2010


ThePinkSuperhero, what is an acceptable thing to say?

If men-who-do-not-love-makeup-on-women remain silent, we get counted in the vast swath of dudes who dig on the makeup. After all, we didn't speak up.

If men-who-do-not-love-makeup-on-women do say something, even "Do whatever you like," it's not correctly framed for someone in the studio audience.

What do I say? "Not in my name?" "Don't count me in the list of people who are for that?" "Hope you aren't doing that on my account?" "That looks expensive and time-consuming for you. I hereby formally declare that, lacking the preference for makeup on women, I am in no way trying to force anyone to wear makeup, to influence anyone to paint their faces, or to otherwise police women to temporarily alter their facial appearance in accordance with a supposed desire on my part for a thing which I truly do not want; I will, simultaneously, not look down upon, pity, or dismiss those women who soldier on without change. I realize my voice is small compared to so many others and against that of the vast media push for such things?"

Formulate a succinct way to say it that is okay for you and whenever threads on this sort of topic come up, I'll use that from here on out.
posted by adipocere at 10:32 AM on September 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Whatever is it worth, I wonder? Every time there's a thread on this topic, someone (from what I've seen, it's always a straight man, feel free to prove me wrong) comes in to announce, definitively, that they prefer women without makeup.

It's like that cliche that is prominent when young girls and men of any age start to write fiction: Rich and Nice and Graceful Woman who's face is Unmarred By Makeup. Seriously, face makeup is so ubiquitous that I doubt the ability of anyone who claims that they can tell whether a competent stranger is wearing it, unless they are looking at a face close-up.

Personally, I rarely wear make-up (even to special events - since I don't wear it on a daily basis I think it looks really out-of-place). I stopped shaving my legs a few months ago and am working on getting over my arm-pit-hair hangups. I don't think it's fair to trash make-up without examining all the other senseless beauty standards. For example: I still insist on wearing a bra when I step out of the house.
posted by muddgirl at 10:32 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not trying to chastise you and you don't need to "defend" yourself; I'm just hoping you can dig a little deeper and think about your comment in a greater context. If you don't want to, that's OK, too; but don't be alarmed that the rest of us might want to continue that part of the conversation.

Well, as I said, the only sentiments I was trying to express were that (1) I encounter a lot of women who seem to believe that the notion of not wearing makeup is so preposterous as to be utterly out of the question, and (2) as an outsider, that's a very weird thing to observe.

If women want to wear makeup, more power to them. If women feel like they have to wear makeup—well, more power to them, too, but I think we're looking at something different there. It's been my observation that some women do feel this way, and that's all I was commenting on.

Any continuation of "that part of the conversation" which assigns meanings and intentions to my comments beyond my actual words will be unnecessary, thanks. And that's not a mansplanation; that's just common courtesy. I'd be glad to think about my comments in a greater context if you care to provide that context. So far all you've done is talk down to me for expressing an opinion.
posted by ixohoxi at 10:32 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If men-who-do-not-love-makeup-on-women remain silent, we get counted in the vast swath of dudes who dig on the makeup. After all, we didn't speak up.

If men-who-do-not-love-makeup-on-women do say something, even "Do whatever you like," it's not correctly framed for someone in the studio audience.


Why do you think your sexual or aesthetic preferences, in either direction, deserve an audience?
posted by muddgirl at 10:34 AM on September 21, 2010 [21 favorites]


If I go in Sephora, I'm not coming out without a whole new face!

I bet you've got the heart of a boy girl, too.
posted by griphus at 10:35 AM on September 21, 2010


They also do this here for a wide range (if not all) of women's appearance issues, especially in the whole "skinny-vs-fat" range of discussions. It really creeps me out.

Sadly I'm sure I've been guilty of that too. I was trying to think of other examples but forgot that big one. Another common one is dressing up vs dressing down.

As some point we guys just need to start understanding that when it comes to what women want to do with their own bodies, we don't matter.
posted by kmz at 10:36 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]




And though the intent may be both sweet and genuine, the businesss of a man telling a woman she looks better without make-up might rub some women the wrong way. For an awfully long time, women have been expected to look young and beautiful at the same time as they have been scolded, ridiculed, humiliated and punished if anyone catches on that they're trying to appear that way. In other words, you better have rosy cheeks to catch a husband, but any woman who wears rouge is obviously a woman of loose moral character. It's a weird play on that whole virgin/whore thing you may have read about in church, or in Lit class.
posted by thivaia at 10:37 AM on September 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


As a straight male, I will now definitively state here, for the record, that I am sexually attracted to women that have an appearance that is sexually attractive to me.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:42 AM on September 21, 2010 [18 favorites]


If men-who-do-not-love-makeup-on-women remain silent, we get counted in the vast swath of dudes who dig on the makeup. After all, we didn't speak up.

If men-who-do-not-love-makeup-on-women do say something, even "Do whatever you like," it's not correctly framed for someone in the studio audience.

Why do you think your sexual or aesthetic preferences, in either direction, deserve an audience?


And why do you assume everyone is waiting for your opinion on the subject, counting you on one side or the other, whether you speak up or not? Really, that is bizarre to me, I don't sit around wondering, gee, I wonder what random so-and-so prefers women to wear, and I will assume X unless they say otherwise.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


For an awfully long time, women have been expected to look young and beautiful at the same time as they have been scolded, ridiculed, humiliated and punished if anyone catches on that they're trying to appear that way. In other words, you better have rosy cheeks to catch a husband, but any woman who wears rouge is obviously a woman of loose moral character.

Mrs.B: If you pinch your cheeks, they'll glow. A little more, try to break some capillaries, dear.
Marge: Couldn't we use just rouge for this?
Mrs.B: Ladies pinch. Whores use rouge.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:47 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love makeup. I have an entire drawerfull at work, ranging from Wet 'n Wild to MAC. And yet, unless I read something on the internet about how so many women feel compelled to wear makeup, I forget to put any on. I'm lazy enough in the morning that I roll out of bed, grab some clothes, and head out the door. Makeup is pretty, and it's so much fun, but it's just as fun when I put it on in the middle of the day at work.
posted by cereselle at 10:48 AM on September 21, 2010


But but but you don't reconfigure your entire physical presence.

No,
you don't. Much like high heels, pantyhose and other uncomfortable articles of style thrust upon women but not men, women should be free to decide whether they want to join in or not, and to what extent. My goth friends (of both genders) ply that makeup on like nobody's business in high school, while the anarchofeminist punk girls refuse to shave their pits and legs, for as much statement as comfort. Choice is the keyword here. Let the reconfiguree decide what needs to be and where.

griphus, I think you misunderstand my meaning here-- I was arguing that, in fact, the application of makeup doesn't constitute the kind of huge transformation that it's sold as. Nothing to do with who chooses to use it or not; just that I think the "magic" of it all is overrated.

posted by jokeefe at 10:48 AM on September 21, 2010


I understand why people find it off-putting when people feel like sharing their personal preferences regarding members of the appropriate sex on Metafilter or in other public spaces as though they were of general interest, or as though those members of the appropriate sex were, or ought to be, waiting on their approval. (And it is definitely not only straight men who do this on Metafilter, though they are the worst offenders.)

However, I don't really think that's what ixohoxi was trying to do. I think he was trying to draw attention to the phenomenon — pretty widespread, in my experience — where a man who shows any interest in an un-made-up woman will find other women among his friends and acquaintances trying to argue him out of it and to convince him that she must be wearing makeup, sometimes at considerable length — even when he is in a position to know with some certainty that she is not. There are clearly people who are very emotionally invested in the idea that no one could be attractive without wearing makeup.

Ixohoxi would have done better to have made this observation without bringing his own preferences into it. But it's still an interesting observation to me.
posted by enn at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an owner of a vagina, I'd like to request that we lay off the dudes in this thread. All the girls get to talk about the pros and cons of wearing makeup, why they like it, why they don't like it, feeling pressured into it, whatever, and that's all fine and dandy, but the second a guy offers his opinion everyone grabs their torches and pitchforks. Double standard much? Crimeny.
posted by phunniemee at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


I'd be glad to think about my comments in a greater context if you care to provide that context. So far all you've done is talk down to me for expressing an opinion.

Well, what do you think of men who shave and men who grow beards? I prefer men with beards; one of my earliest crushes was Grizzly Adams.

Do you think a lot about the time and money men spend on shaving products? Do you think men who shave their faces for job interviews or before they go to work on on a date are insecure? Are these men just slaves to the Gilette-run emasculating culture that is shaving?

You know, I don't get tattoos. Spending hundreds of dollars and painful hours getting something inked on you permanently? Horrible to me! But, I don't think people who do it are insecure victims of the tattoo-industrial complex. I don't understand why make up comes with this bizarre value judgment. I feel like it's latent fear of being "glamoured" by the scary witchy-fairy folk who call themselves "women."
posted by gladly at 10:59 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Girls?
posted by winna at 10:59 AM on September 21, 2010


phunniemee, if a guy wants to talk about why they do or do not like wearing makeup on themselves, that's great. I don't care whether he thinks I should or shouldn't. It's not a double standard - it's two different topics.
posted by desjardins at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


Double standard much?

I wouldn't call it a double standard. I'd call it objectifying. While the ladies are talking about the merits of the issue at hand, a guy comes along and says "well that's great and all, but I like to stick my dick into chicks that look this way."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:01 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


You know what sounds terrifying, speaking of men commenting on their preferences re: makeup? Hearing your significant other tell you how good you look in makeup.

I only wear it rarely, the odd fancy dinner or wedding or business meeting (and the fact that I even feel the need to wear it on those occasions bugs me to no end). I spend 99% of my time clean faced. The fact that my partner was, last week, all "wow! You look fantastic today! You look really good in make up, sweetie!" after I used some rouge made me want to immediately wash it off my face and possibly brainwash him into forgetting it had even happened. Because now he has a new calibration for me "looking good": lydhre-wearing-make up vs lydhre-not-wearing-make up, as opposed to just lydhre.

And he thinks I'm beautiful without it, and don't need it, and I can do whatever I want and blah blah blah. But now he knows - he's noticed - the difference and a small part of me can't help but be afraid that he'll be thinking about it the next time I look tired or we're out to dinner with his friends and their dolled up-as-a-matter-of-course significant others.
posted by lydhre at 11:13 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And why do you assume everyone is waiting for your opinion on the subject, counting you on one side or the other, whether you speak up or not?

It's a defensive reaction. I would be willing to bet that none of the guys who weigh in believe for an instant that their opinion is either required or eagerly awaited. But they want to weigh in all the same.

I tend not to voice my personal preferences in threads like this for a few reasons, but primarily: I believe that oppression of women is a womens' issue, and my opinion may be seen as an inappropriate imposition. Also, I'm aware that my personal preferences don't matter. So I try to be a little more passive about commenting on these topics, except when I think that offering another perspective might be helpful.

Speaking as a guy, some of us do have a tendency to react a particular way when oppression of women and imposed societal values are brought up in discussion. We want to prove we don't do that. We would like others to realize that some of us value women differently than just as sex objects. I think that's a normal reaction. I certainly feel it. I don't want to be lumped in with the assholes who leer at / catcall women, for example. Or worse.

We saw this in the Schroedinger's rapist thread. Men came out of the woodwork to say "Hey, don't make sweeping judgments about all men! I don't do that!" Some of them got slapped down quite abruptly for weighing in, too. That was (and is) mostly fine with me. The thread was not (and should not have been) directly about the male experience, and defensive reactions may prevent men from understanding and empathizing with what women deal with -- even in what we may think is a totally benign social situation.

Please keep in mind that we men also receive cues from our cultures and the societies we live in, as well as the women in our lives. We're not necessarily looking for cookies for our good behavior. But it's natural for us to want to point out that all men aren't jerks.

That isn't always a bad thing.
posted by zarq at 11:14 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


ixohoxi's phrasing might not have been great, but I thought it was fairly clear that his point was just

to express [his] continual amazement at the number of women who are convinced, beyond all argument and reason, that they're hideous trolls unless they're wearing some kind of cosmetic product.


And it's not only men who need to be careful about passing judgment on women's looks. Almost all of the people who have told me (often quite disapprovingly) that I'd look so much better if only... have been women. And it may be confirmation bias, but on better-than-average-looks days I frequently feel as though I get much better-than-average treatment from the women I interact with regularly, while I don't sense as much of a difference with the men.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 11:14 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


ixohoxi, my feeling is that women primarily wear make up for other women (just like they wear clothes for other women.) My husband hates when I wear lipstick and I guess he'd really dislike foundation! But when I do put on lipstick (the only makeup I wear) it's to add a bit of polish to a fancy outfit, not to attract his attention.
posted by vespabelle at 11:15 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who finds any part of grooming aside from standing in a lovely warm shower tedious, it never occurred to me that putting on makeup could be fun for the person doing it. Huh.
posted by maxwelton at 11:15 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


As someone who finds any part of grooming aside from standing in a lovely warm shower tedious, it never occurred to me that putting on makeup could be fun for the person doing it.

Of course it can be! Big multi-colored crayons you can WRITE ON YOUR FACE with? Hells yea, that's fun! I can put stuff on my lips to make them smell like cookies or oranges! Weeeeeeee!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:19 AM on September 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


In this thread, men and women are talking about how they feel about makeup on women, because that's what the post is about. That's what we do, discuss the topic of the post.

A couple months ago we had a thread about Joseph Gordon-Levitt and we all, men and women, talked about Joseph Gordon-Levitt because that was the topic of the post.
posted by ODiV at 11:21 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, I find reducing a man's attraction to "I like to stick my dick into..." incredibly offensive and objectifying.
posted by ODiV at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


I have to wear make-up for work. As in, if I don't I could actually get written up for it, mascara and lip gloss are mandatory for women, and foundation is highly recommended. Of course, I'm required to wear heels and pantyhose with all skirts and dresses, too. The airlines are an odd place to make a living.
posted by jnaps at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't doubt that it comes from good intentions. But it's one thing to say "not all men are jerks about makeup", and another to contribute something a bit extreme like "I ALWAYS prefer women without makeup, without exception. And women who wear makeup? They might all just be manipulated by the industry." (Yes, you didn't actually say that last part, but the implication was strong.) I don't even know how a straight dude can be knowledgeable enough about the subject to declare such a thing, unless maybe he's a professional in the makeup industry.
posted by naju at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]



Why do you think your sexual or aesthetic preferences, in either direction, deserve an audience?


He should find a discussion forum somewhere on the internet if he wants to discuss things.

Metafilter is only for grar.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do you think your sexual or aesthetic preferences, in either direction, deserve an audience?

Because I do not wish to be counted amongst those I do not stand with. I was very clear about that.

And if you don't think that some level of counting the silent doesn't go on, for pretty much any issue, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by adipocere at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2010


Makeup is fun! Dressing up is fun! My closet looks like it belongs to a goth drag queen. But for work? On the weekend running errands? I want to be comfortable and get out the door ASAP. The thought that I'd be judged for not wearing makeup, or that my professional capabilities might be overshadowed (ha!) by my lack of makeup makes me ill.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2010


I don't even know how a straight dude can be knowledgeable enough about the subject to declare such a thing, unless maybe he's a professional in the makeup industry.

Duh, all pro makeup artists are gay.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2010


In this thread, men and women are talking about how they feel about makeup on women, because that's what the post is about.

Funny, I thought it was about makeup in general. Men can wear make-up, too.

Commenting on the relative attractiveness of an imaginary Platonic Woman in a discussion about specific women who have specific make-up habits is, yes, objectifying. And objectifying women is historically problematic in a way that isn't so for men.
posted by muddgirl at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have to wear make-up for work. As in, if I don't I could actually get written up for it, mascara and lip gloss are mandatory for women, and foundation is highly recommended. Of course, I'm required to wear heels and pantyhose with all skirts and dresses, too. The airlines are an odd place to make a living.

Wow, that's fascinating- I don't suppose the cost of those items are paid for by the company?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2010


jnaps: I remember reading somewhere (AskMe?) about a woman who kept getting crappy reviews based on "personal cleanliness" at her restaurant job simply because she didn't wear makeup. It sounded really infuriating.
posted by ODiV at 11:29 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


In this thread, men and women are talking about how they feel about makeup on women, because that's what the post is about.

No, no it's not. Women talking about how they feel about WEARING makeup is not the same as men talking about how they feel about WOMEN WHO WEAR makeup. "I prefer to..." != "I prefer women who..."
posted by desjardins at 11:29 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because I do not wish to be counted amongst those I do not stand with.

Did anyone in this thread state that all men prefer women who wear make-up? I can't find it, although I admit I haven't looked very hard.

Women wear make-up for a variety of reasons, most of them being "We were taught that women wear make-up." Surprisingly enough to some people, men's opinions tend to be a superficial factor.
posted by muddgirl at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2010


I really do like wearing make-up, but I do not do so to work because of all the demographics who absolutely do not care how much eyeliner you have on, two year olds are at the top of the list. It's funny, I'm much more "dressed up" and "put together" on my off days than I ever am at work.
posted by sonika at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2010



Every time there's a thread on this topic, someone (from what I've seen, it's always a straight man, feel free to prove me wrong) comes in to announce, definitively, that they prefer women without makeup.

Yeah I always notice this too. I feel it's probably guys who want to prove that they are feminist sympathizers, which is totes adorbs, but it is a pretty predictable response and when sung in chorus it does begin to have weird implications like you've pointed out.


Way to weed out guys who are sympathetic. Me, I'll continue to be sympathetic on principle, because I'm sure as hell not doing it for the high-fives.
posted by Scoo at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


How about any time you see a post showing examples of women looking a certain way (see zarq's recent modeling posts) and you feel tempted to spontaneously state "I prefer women who look this other way," you keep in mind who you're sharing that info with, and where, and then decide whether that's really going to contribute anything to the dialogue.

I don't think it's GRAR to expect people to filter their own thoughts and impressions for public consumption. Or to at least expect them to discuss or defend their contributions.
posted by hermitosis at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


jnaps: I remember reading somewhere (AskMe?) about a woman who kept getting crappy reviews based on "personal cleanliness" at her restaurant job simply because she didn't wear makeup. It sounded really infuriating.

Then there's Darlene Jespersen, who lost her job tending bar at Harrah's casino because she wouldn't wear makeup. The Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy ran an interesting article about Jespersen's sexual discrimination lawsuit against the casino.
posted by virago at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love makeup. While I was planning our wedding, I devoted time to teaching myself how to do my own makeup, and i loved it. I still get a wee thrill when i open up all my little pots of colour in the morning. I like the way I look with makeup - i like that I can match my look to my mood, so I might be wearing a muted natural look, or a "watch out" red lipstick look. To me it's just another part of getting dressed, another part of my self-expression.

Applying makeup is also a lovely exercise in design - learning how to trick the light, emphasise parts of your face, conceal others; it's fascinating to see how you can alter your appearance quite dramatically. My favourite example is Lauren Luke, who completely transforms herself with every YouTube video she publishes (she's also adorable).
posted by ukdanae at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


liquorice has a good point, I've never worn makeup (too many allergies; one too many bad experiences). But I keep my hair long and curly and girly as shit, basically.

Upon reflection, I guess I do feel like the hair covers my requirement for performative gender.
posted by ErikaB at 11:52 AM on September 21, 2010


it's probably true that your co-workers (and, more crucially, employers and hiring committees) don't care whether you're wearing make-up. But they do notice whether a woman looks bright and fresh-faced. For me (as for many women) the alternatives are:
- wear a tiny bit of make-up and look even-toned and bright-faced, or
- wear no make-up and show my dark circles and my uneven complexion.


Agreed. At the same time, it's possible to make this work in one's favor, sometimes — if I've been sick and have missed work, or if I feel like I'm getting sick and will need to miss work, I come to work with no makeup on. If people are used to seeing a person wearing the level of makeup Elsa describes (three minutes of concealer & mascara to avoid "you look tired, are you okay?") wearing none is often enough to prompt questions or arouse sympathy.
posted by Lexica at 11:52 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Way to weed out guys who are sympathetic. Me, I'll continue to be sympathetic on principle, because I'm sure as hell not doing it for the high-fives.

Again, why should women care what you think of their makeup habits or lack thereof? Do you see how it can it be seen as intrusive and objectifying?
posted by kmz at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2010


I feel like it's latent fear of being "glamoured" by the scary witchy-fairy folk who call themselves "women."

Given the history of marketing schemes used to convince people that they needed to adopt new beauty practices, I think it has nothing to do with fear of being 'glamoured' and everything to do with fear of being sucked into an artificial social norm created by people trying to sell you something you don't need or want

For example:shaving being foisted on women in the early 20th century or the history of douching. One can clearly see how women were preyed upon by marketers and be concerned that history will repeat itself with men, to the extent it hasn't already (e.g., see the bit about shaving, below).

Do you think a lot about the time and money men spend on shaving products? Do you think men who shave their faces for job interviews or before they go to work on on a date are insecure? Are these men just slaves to the Gilette-run emasculating culture that is shaving?

Yeah, I do care about marketers convincing people that men are only handsome if they are clean shaven or that an unshaven man is unprofessional or even outright unemployable. I do care about the time and money wasted on shaving products and shaving by men who view it as a necessary chore required by society rather than a voluntary habit.

I have no desire to see marketers produce more social norms along those lines, and I feel it's important to make it clear that I have no truck with the social norms that impose 'beauty regimens' on anybody, which includes the notion that women should or must wear makeup in order to be attractive, professional, or employable.

Women wear make-up for a variety of reasons, most of them being "We were taught that women wear make-up." Surprisingly enough to some people, men's opinions tend to be a superficial factor.

And why do you think they were taught that? At root makeup is primarily about simulating youth and giving sexual cues. Men's opinions had almost everything to do with it, historically, which is why I think it's just as valuable for men to disclaim that history as it is for women to reclaim the use (or non-use) of makeup for their own purposes.
posted by jedicus at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Speaking of shaving, we had a thread on shaving (mostly legs and armpits, though some face) here that seemed to go pretty okay.
posted by ODiV at 12:04 PM on September 21, 2010


I go through cycles of wearing makeup or not -- sometimes I feel like it for several days in a row, sometimes the opposite. I gained a new (female) roommate during a cycle where I was wearing natural-looking makeup every day. One night I was talking about going out for a concert, mentioning that I was really going to play up my makeup and do something dramatic looking.

She is generally anti-makeup, and said "Oh, but I think you look really nice without makeup!"

I just kind of shrugged and smiled instead of the alternatives ("Actually you haven't seen me without makeup, glad you think I'm doing a good job!" or "Well I was going to wear it to play with my style, not because I want to look pretty for you.")

It didn't bother me that much but I did think it was funny. I think people too easily make assumptions like that and end up looking a little foolish. Broad brushstrokes and all. Sometimes it can be like saying "I like women who wear skirts!" "I like women who never wear skirts, best!" "You look best wearing pants!" blah blah blah.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:14 PM on September 21, 2010


Again, why should women care what you think of their makeup habits or lack thereof? Do you see how it can it be seen as intrusive and objectifying?

I mean, goodness, many people consider compatibility in musical tastes extremely important in a romantic relationship. So how is it not intrusive or objectifying to announce that you do or don't like a given band or genre of music? Or that you're vegetarian? Or that you like tattoos? Or that you do or do not follow a particular religion? Or that you agree or disagree with a particular political view? Or your personal preference regarding any number of other aesthetic or personal choices people make?

By this standard, which has been echoed by many others in the thread, we shouldn't ever discuss anything that people use as a marker for compatibility or attraction. Since it turns out that's just about everything imaginable, the site would come to a screeching halt.

Or could it be that everyone commenting in this thread understands that makeup is just one aesthetic choice of many? And that since the thread is explicitly about makeup that it is okay to talk about that choice in particular? And that it's neither necessary nor desirable to preface every comment with "With the understanding that makeup is only one aesthetic choice of many, that both men and women have many reasons for wearing, not wearing, preferring, or not preferring makeup, that it is a choice affected by historical and social norms, that I am not referring to or judging anyone in particular, that I know that I am speaking in general terms for brevity, that I am referring only to my own experience and not making universal statements beyond that experience, that obviously there are many cases where what I am about to say may not apply for many reasons, and that your own opinion on the subject is completely valid and you are fully entitled to it: here is what I have to say about makeup."
posted by jedicus at 12:16 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, that's fascinating- I don't suppose the cost of those items are paid for by the company?

No, they're not, although I'm sure they qualify as an itemized deduction come tax time...I know the insane amounts of pantyhose I go through each year does. It's still a little insane to me -- of course, the whole industry is a little backwards when it comes to objectifying women, but I've always assumed as a queer woman I read more into the interactions with pilots and the general flying public than most women do. I took a month off to deal with some family stuff, and this month back has been something of a slap in the face to my feminist sensibilites in more than a few ways.

When I'm not at work I don't tend to wear much make-up, but I don't condemn anyone who does. It can be fun to put on! As many posters have said, there's something about all the color palettes that can be exciting. It's just sad when women like my mother can't leave the house without putting "their face on", as if there's something to be ashamed of for looking how you're supposed to look.
posted by jnaps at 12:16 PM on September 21, 2010


And now I will weigh in. For day to day, I do not bother with makeup. I have a hard enough time getting going in the morning, with the showering and putting clothes on and breakfast eating and commuting to add more steps than I have to. I leave my hair loose or put it in a bun, its quick and simple. I don't bother with makeup. A week without? Bah. Easy sauce.

But...for special occasions? For playtime on the weekend? Once I'm awake and not afraid I'm gonna poke my eye out with the eyeliner? As many women have said in this thread already, putting up makeup can be fun. Changing the shadows on your face, highlighting your eyes or your lips, making a statement with bright colours or seeing how subtle you can be with neutral tones. You can really dramatically change your face with the application of pigment. And then it washes off. Brilliant.

I have never had flak at work for non-makeup use. And yes, when I have worn makeup people have made comments on it, usually positive, but nothing more than if I wore a really nice top or dress as opposed to something everyday.

tl;dr - make up is fun, but as a fun thing, it is not mandatory
posted by sandraregina at 12:19 PM on September 21, 2010


lydhre: And he thinks I'm beautiful without it, and don't need it, and I can do whatever I want and blah blah blah. But now he knows - he's noticed - the difference and a small part of me can't help but be afraid that he'll be thinking about it the next time I look tired or we're out to dinner with his friends and their dolled up-as-a-matter-of-course significant others.

This.

Every time I decide to fancy myself up for an evening out, I worry that I'm setting the bar (whatever that even is) higher, and that my usual self won't be interesting anymore. And then I get irritated with myself for thinking that "makeup=BETTER" instead of just "different." And then I try very hard not to snap at Mr. Narrative when he tells me how nice I look, because it's not like any of this is really his fault.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:19 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or could it be that everyone commenting in this thread understands that makeup is just one aesthetic choice of many?

it's not talking about one's own aesthetic choices. it's talking about one's aesthetic opinions of someone else's societally-charged aesthetic choice.
posted by winna at 12:20 PM on September 21, 2010


I mean, goodness, many people consider compatibility in musical tastes extremely important in a romantic relationship. So how is it not intrusive or objectifying to announce that you do or don't like a given band or genre of music? Or that you're vegetarian? Or that you like tattoos? Or that you do or do not follow a particular religion? Or that you agree or disagree with a particular political view? Or your personal preference regarding any number of other aesthetic or personal choices people make?

I didn't realize Metafilter posts were OKCupid profiles now.
posted by kmz at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2010


I never felt free to *play* with makeup until my 30s -- and even now all I wear is a bit of eyeliner and powder foundation -- most of the playing is with fingernail painting. Lip-stuff of any sort and actual eyeshadow seem like "putting on a face" or "glamming up for an event" -- something I would do for, say, a dim-lit, crazy-dress Burning Man party or a thing like that.

I grew up in the deep South and my mother was appalled that I didn't wear makeup once I was "of age" to be a "proper girl/woman". "You would look so much prettier with just a little!"

But how could I be a good feminist and wear makeup? It was confusing. I'm old enough now to just do whatever I feel like, and that feels good. I have a couple of tattoos, now, too. :)
posted by yarnivore at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to never wear any makeup at work. Then I turned 30 and I realized how I looked so much better with eyeliner and MAC strobe and powder on. And some lip gloss.

I saw this before and after of women with and without makeup on, and I realized that I would look mannish without eyeliner on. Most women look better with eyeliner on. If only it didn't clog eyelid pores.
posted by anniecat at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2010


This is purely anecdotal, but: in conversations with boyfriends or other males about makeup, I have, on multiple occasions, had a man say to me, "I don't see what the big deal is. You don't wear makeup, and you look fine."
I do wear makeup. Every day (or at least I did when I was a working professional, not now that I'm a slobby grad student). Not a lot, but a little. These men (and I am not saying all men, just these particular men) apparently don't really know what a woman without makeup looks like.
There are, of course, plenty of women who don't wear makeup - power to them. However, I also am pretty confident that most women put a lot more time into beauty regimens than most men would guess.
posted by naoko at 12:24 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I used to never wear any makeup at work. Then I turned 30 and I realized how I looked so much better with eyeliner and MAC strobe and powder on. And some lip gloss.

I saw this before and after of women with and without makeup on, and I realized that I would look mannish without eyeliner on. Most women look better with eyeliner on. If only it didn't clog eyelid pores.


No, we have been conditioned to think that women look more feminine with eyeliner on. Based on an arbitrary definition of feminine that includes, you know, wearing eyeliner.
posted by lydhre at 12:31 PM on September 21, 2010 [14 favorites]


At root makeup is primarily about simulating youth and giving sexual cues. Men's opinions had almost everything to do with it, historically, which is why I think it's just as valuable for men to disclaim that history as it is for women to reclaim the use (or non-use) of makeup for their own purposes.

One could just as easily say that at root marriage is about buying and selling women as property. Which is to say: just because there are historical reasons that gender relations or gender performance are a certain way today, doesn't mean that each person who adheres to them is still operating under the logic of why things were a certain way 100 years ago. Different practices make their way into the mainstream and the extent to which each of us (uncritically or critically) embraces or rejects those practices is complicated.

The irritating thing is that most of these practices have ended up politicized for women in a way that they aren't for men, so there's really no way of just "doing what you want to do" that doesn't involve someone assuming that you're making a political statement out of it. Shaving (or not shaving) legs and armpits, wearing (or not wearing) makeup, letting hair grow long or cutting it short--lots of women and men take those choices as signifying something. It's not like men don't have gender performance that they mostly unconsciously follow; the truely "natural" thing would be to let your hair grow shoulder-length but it's rare for dudes to be confronted with anyone who would suggest their choice to submit to a twice-monthly haircut is a statement.

Anyway. I tend to believe that statements about liking women who do X or are Y ("have some meat on their bones" "aren't super-skinny" "have small boobs" "don't wear make-up" "don't shave their bikini line" etc etc etc) tend to be more about the person's view of himself as a certain type of guy, rather than an unthinking over-share about what turns his crank. I suppose it's a small victory if the type-of-guy persona being asserted is progressive/feminist rather than conservative, but on the whole it still strikes me as a strange thing to hear from the other side.
posted by iminurmefi at 12:33 PM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


With the understanding that makeup is only one aesthetic choice of many, that both men and women have many reasons for wearing, not wearing, preferring, or not preferring makeup, that it is a choice affected by historical and social norms, that I am not referring to or judging anyone in particular, that I know that I am speaking in general terms for brevity, that I am referring only to my own experience and not making universal statements beyond that experience, that obviously there are many cases where what I am about to say may not apply for many reasons, and that your own opinion on the subject is completely valid and you are fully entitled to it: here is what I have to say about makeup -

From what I understand it's made out of crushed insects and sheep's intestines... yick.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:34 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Because I do not wish to be counted amongst those I do not stand with.

By this logic you should give us the benefit of your position on scent and moisturizers, too.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2010


What would not be considered a strange thing to hear from the other side, iminurmefi?
posted by adipocere at 12:40 PM on September 21, 2010


it's not talking about one's own aesthetic choices. it's talking about one's aesthetic opinions of someone else's societally-charged aesthetic choice.

But even talking about one's own aesthetic choices renders, by implication, an opinion about the aesthetic choices of others. For example, saying that one likes to wear makeup implies that one prefers partners that in turn prefer partners that wear makeup. That's an opinion about the aesthetic choices of others. By the logic of many in this thread it is also objectifying because it reduces those potential partners to a single trait: do they agree with me about makeup?

And again, by that logic we should never talk about whether we do or don't like tattoos, or a polarizing band, or a particular religion, or vegan food, or child-bearing, or any number of other societally-charged choices. It wouldn't leave much to talk about.

I didn't realize Metafilter posts were OKCupid profiles now.

That's my point. They aren't, which is why I think it isn't inherently intrusive or objectifying to discuss ones likes or dislikes. Which is not to say that it's impossible to come across as misogynistic, objectifying, or creepy by doing so, but I haven't seen much of that in this thread.
posted by jedicus at 12:40 PM on September 21, 2010


Way to weed out guys who are sympathetic. Me, I'll continue to be sympathetic on principle, because I'm sure as hell not doing it for the high-fives.

Again, why should women care what you think of their makeup habits or lack thereof? Do you see how it can it be seen as intrusive and objectifying?


I don't think women should care one way or the other what I or any man think of their appearance. I agree how it can it be seen as intrusive and objectifying.

My point was more about giving sympathizers who have perhaps misspoken the benefit of the doubt, rather than getting all up in their grill. I enthusiastically support the cause of Feminism, but frankly a lot of you are kind of a drag to hang out with. You're your own worst enemies in many regards.
posted by Scoo at 12:53 PM on September 21, 2010


I've had a weird relationship with makeup. I cannot wear any, at least that I've found. Every type, from lipstick to basic foundation that I have tried has produced a pretty horrific skin reaction of some sort (from hives to blisters to OMFGMYSKINISFALLINGOFFWTF). Despite this, I remember my mother forcing me to wear lipstick and some other makeup when I was young for various "important" things - even if it did mean two days of puffy lips or eyes afterwards. Maybe it was simply because I could never well articulate how badly it affected me, I don't know.

But when I got to be an adult, I realized how much I was missing out on in terms of "being a girl" in the eyes of my fellow females of the world. I couldn't talk about makeup tips or styles, I couldn't go have makeovers, I couldn't even borrow lipstick from a friend. And I sort of felt ... left out, socially, I guess.

At the same time, the only people who ever notice / comment about me not wearing makeup are those that seem to want to demean me as a person / woman for not wearing it, and assume I am making some sort of statement by not wearing it. "Oh, youd look so much better if you did x, y and z." Which is said in a tone of "You don't look good now, and you are less of a person for not doing these things." And when I state that no, I can't do that, because I'd get blisters or hives or whatnot, they sort of look at me with pity, like I'm some sort of freak. And I feel like I am when they do that.

So, I'm not sure how I feel about it honestly. I hate it, because I can see what it does to our society's concept of what it means to be a woman, and because I'll never be fully a woman in some people's eyes because of something I cannot help. On the other, I really wish I could wear it sometimes, because of all of those same things.
posted by strixus at 12:53 PM on September 21, 2010


melissam: You just don't leave the house sans "your face" where I come from

This horrifies me more than anything else in this thread. I'm well aware that it's simply a phrase that has evolved in the American South to refer to a woman's make-up routine, but what it says (read: means)--language is important, kids!--is that you don't have a face without make-up. You are faceless unless you paint and powder and pencil yourself. You're not a person, let alone a woman. This turns me into a Giant Squid of Anger (think incoherent GRAR ramblings plus copious amounts of arm-waving above the head). Ugh ugh UGH.
posted by tzikeh at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


For example, saying that one likes to wear makeup implies that one prefers partners that in turn prefer partners that wear makeup.

No it doesn't. For one thing, you assume everyone wants to be partnered and that is definitely not the case.

The woman in the FPP doesn't even mention men, rather, she mentions the preferences of female co-workers.

I think it isn't inherently intrusive or objectifying to discuss ones likes or dislikes. Which is not to say that it's impossible to come across as misogynistic, objectifying, or creepy by doing so, but I haven't seen much of that in this thread.

The problem with men saying "I like women who don't wear makeup" is that it has the same effect as saying "I like women who wear makeup". And that is not always irrelevant, but it is clearly irrelevant in this thread. The FPP is about a woman's experiences as she goes a week doing something that she does not normally do. Unless the guy making the comment is her boyfriend, then his sexual preference is not relevant. If the FPP were about a woman deciding to go a week without the internet, or to ride her bike every day for a week, would it make sense for men to chime in that they like "a woman who can disconnect from the net" or "a woman who can ride a bike"? No it would not make sense. It might make sense on a dating site, which is why the OkCupid comparison came up.

But of course, you probably wouldn't get too many of those sorts of comments if it was about bike riding. It is very predictable that those kinds of comments would come up in this thread, and I think you need to examine why that is.
posted by Danila at 1:00 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


It seems strange to me for someone to have "No Makeup Week" to emphasize natural beauty when so many women still feel compelled to go out and get breast implants. Makeup can be washed off, but boob jobs are forever, and they're almost never an improvement over nature.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:01 PM on September 21, 2010


For example, saying that one likes to wear makeup implies that one prefers partners that in turn prefer partners that wear makeup.

Also, saying "I like to wear makeup" is like saying "I like to eat pepperoni pizza". It's a real stretch to spin that into a declaration of the kind of partner a person is looking for.
posted by Danila at 1:04 PM on September 21, 2010


Danila: Maybe I just misunderstand makeup (and maybe that's abundantly clear). The effectiveness of cosmetic products that are often sold as offering enhancement to appearance and attractiveness doesn't seem off topic to me in the same way that commenting on the attractiveness of women who ride bikes or are not using the Internet would be.
posted by ODiV at 1:08 PM on September 21, 2010


Does anybody else think she looks like a Clockwork Orange-era Malcolm McDowell?
posted by Robin Kestrel at 1:09 PM on September 21, 2010


I like women who wear pepperoni pizza.
posted by found missing at 1:09 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


ODiv: Not every woman who wears make-up wants to increase their attractiveness to men.
posted by jnaps at 1:12 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


No it doesn't. For one thing, you assume everyone wants to be partnered and that is definitely not the case. The woman in the FPP doesn't even mention men, rather, she mentions the preferences of female co-workers.

Ugh. Pedantry aside, it implies that for those that want to be partnered. And I was plainly referring to the people in this thread who've discussed their own personal views on wearing makeup, not the woman in the FPP.

The FPP is about a woman's experiences as she goes a week doing something that she does not normally do. Unless the guy making the comment is her boyfriend, then his sexual preference is not relevant.

By that logic, the personal preferences of everyone in this thread regarding their own choice to wear or not wear makeup are also irrelevant. After all, what does it matter whether MeFi Commenter X likes to wear makeup? Or doesn't? It has nothing to do with this woman's decision not to wear makeup for a week.

Sometimes threads are tightly focused on the immediate subject of the post. Sometimes they are jumping off points for broader discussions.

But of course, you probably wouldn't get too many of those sorts of comments if it was about bike riding. It is very predictable that those kinds of comments would come up in this thread, and I think you need to examine why that is.

Okay, unlike bike riding, makeup is intimately bound up with gender and sexuality. Unlike bike riding, makeup and other 'beauty regimens' have a history of being imposed on women through social norms created in a society dominated by men. Hence, we see posts by men saying "what happened in the past to cause makeup to be so intimately bound up with societal notions of femininity sucks. I for one reject the assertion that women must wear makeup in order to express their femininity, should they wish to express it." Apart from the direct comparison to bike riding, that's basically what I've already said in the thread. Ta-da.
posted by jedicus at 1:12 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


jnaps: Of course. That's a given.
posted by ODiV at 1:13 PM on September 21, 2010


Makeup can be washed off, but boob jobs are forever, and they're almost never an improvement over nature.

I think you have to have implants replaced every five years.
posted by anniecat at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2010


But even talking about one's own aesthetic choices renders, by implication, an opinion about the aesthetic choices of others. For example, saying that one likes to wear makeup implies that one prefers partners that in turn prefer partners that wear makeup. That's an opinion about the aesthetic choices of others. By the logic of many in this thread it is also objectifying because it reduces those potential partners to a single trait: do they agree with me about makeup?

Sorry, this doesn't make sense. I like onions on my cheeseburger. My husband does not like onions. He probably doesn't like my onion breath. I don't care. I still like onions on my cheeseburger. It has nothing to do with him.

We're not necessarily wearing make-up to attract partners, or to not-attract partners. Sometimes we're doing it (or not) because that's what we want to do (or not).
posted by desjardins at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


naoko: "I do wear makeup. Every day (or at least I did when I was a working professional, not now that I'm a slobby grad student). Not a lot, but a little. These men (and I am not saying all men, just these particular men) apparently don't really know what a woman without makeup looks like.
There are, of course, plenty of women who don't wear makeup - power to them. However, I also am pretty confident that most women put a lot more time into beauty regimens than most men would guess.
"

This line of reasoning (and this is far and away not the first in the thread) takes a pretty significant logical leap: just because men can't tell the difference between women wearing makeup or not (or, more likely, that they can't tell the difference between a woman wearing some makeup and a woman wearing no makeup) doesn't inherently mean they wouldn't find a woman without makeup attractive or (far more important) that society would grind to a screeching halt for any woman who didn't. In fact, given your concession about there being plenty of women who don't wear makeup, it's far more likely men can't tell the difference between women who spend a lot of time getting made up and women who don't because we actually can't tell the difference.

Here's the thing, though: makeup doesn't exist in an ethically neutral space - it's bad for the environment (particularly drinking water), it carries definite racial overtones, it's almost always heteronormative, it costs (often) a lot of money and (as has been pointed out several times upthread) it brings all sorts of sexist baggage. So, if makeup is something you wear because it's fun, then it's fair game for criticism because, well, this is the kind of place where we wrestle with the ethical implications of people's hobbies all the time. If makeup is something you wear to look presentable to men, then tough beans that we're not all as easily taken in by lipstick and eyeliner. If makeup is something you wear to look presentable to women, then for the reasons I listed above, I seriously think you should reconsider.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Odiv, it seems to me that this project is more about what it means to women (or just this woman) to wear makeup or not to wear it. She calls makeup a tool to express creativeness and her inner life. Also this:

It’s not about finding that I am beautiful without make-up or that I am beautiful on the inside, because beauty is shallow. It’s fleeting. This is about understanding that our cultural obsession with beauty is overblown. That there is a ridiculous beauty standard…But maybe as a person, beauty isn’t what I have to offer the world. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

It's not about her attractiveness, to sexual partners or to commenting friends, family, and co-workers. She's making the statement that her sexual attractiveness, her beauty, shouldn't be confused with her person. Both men and women get that twisted (and again, I note she spends far more time talking about other women).

So when a man comes along and reduces the issue back down to "attractive or not", whether he's for or against makeup, that is really an example of exactly the problem she is arguing against.
posted by Danila at 1:16 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, saying "I like to wear makeup" is like saying "I like to eat pepperoni pizza". It's a real stretch to spin that into a declaration of the kind of partner a person is looking for.

It absolutely is not. To take your pepperoni pizza example, the person who says that is very likely implying that they prefer partners that eat meat or at least tolerate it. And thus that they would not prefer a partner that was a vegetarian or vegan that could not themselves tolerate a partner that ate meat.

Assuming, of course, that the person wants to be partnered. Man, these comment disclaimers are going to get pretty long...

Sorry, this doesn't make sense. I like onions on my cheeseburger. My husband does not like onions. He probably doesn't like my onion breath. I don't care. I still like onions on my cheeseburger. It has nothing to do with him.

You've intentionally selected a fairly innocuous example, whereas I was clear in referring only to views on things that are controversial or used as markers for compatibility in relationships. Even something like onions can be fraught with peril, though. What if your husband were a devout Jain? He might care a lot more about the onions then.

We're not necessarily wearing make-up to attract partners, or to not-attract partners. Sometimes we're doing it (or not) because that's what we want to do (or not).

Of course you aren't necessarily doing that. But many people do, and that's often how the products are marketed and recommended. Maybe I really do need to start appending that disclaimer to every comment, since I addressed all of this in it.
posted by jedicus at 1:21 PM on September 21, 2010


I don't think anyone reduced the issue back down to "attractive or not". I went back and reread ixohoxi's comment and he talks about the marketing and cultural baggage he sees surrounding makeup.
posted by ODiV at 1:21 PM on September 21, 2010


She's making the statement that her sexual attractiveness, her beauty, shouldn't be confused with her person.

And if you agree with that statement then you should boycott virtually all makeup companies, as that's a conflation that their advertising works very, very hard to make.
posted by jedicus at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2010


Most of the women in my immediate circle have admitted to having self-control issues when it comes to visiting, say, Sephora--the endless colors and clever packages and brushes and oooh look that that lipgloss palette.

I'm exactly the same way, and I hate wearing makeup unless it's a special occasion or I'm going to be performing onstage or something. The only makeup I wear to my job is face powder, because my facial moisturizer makes my skin particularly shiny. If I have a pimple I'll put some concealer on it, but that's it. And I don't go out clubbing at night or any other regular night activity that general calls fors getting made up.

I rarely set foot in Sephora, but even when walking around your average drug store chain I find myself mesmerized by the makeup wall. I have to stop myself from buying so much shimmery, colorful eye shadow and lipstick because by now I know I'd wear it maybe only once a year. My nail polish collection is already ridiculous enough. I don't know what it is about the stuff.
posted by wondermouse at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2010


If makeup is something you wear to look presentable to women, then for the reasons I listed above, I seriously think you should reconsider.

Sorry, you're completely wrong. Personal body care regimens are not fair game for strangers' "ethical" criticism. Do you think the cleaning products you use are any better for the environment than somebody's fucking eyeliner? Is wearing a tie any less heteronormative? And lots of things cost money. Christ.
posted by enn at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


The funny thing about all this talk about men liking women without makeup is that I would bet more than half the time, the women they are talking about are wearing (subtle) makeup.
posted by Pax at 1:23 PM on September 21, 2010


So, if makeup is something you wear because it's fun, then it's fair game for criticism because, well, this is the kind of place where we wrestle with the ethical implications of people's hobbies all the time. If makeup is something you wear to look presentable to men, then tough beans that we're not all as easily taken in by lipstick and eyeliner. If makeup is something you wear to look presentable to women, then for the reasons I listed above, I seriously think you should reconsider.

And with that, the conversation has crossed over from "women shouldn't feel like they must wear makeup" to the notion that women who do wear it are doing something bad. On the upside, it took longer than I thought it might.
posted by naoko at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I enthusiastically support the cause of Feminism, but frankly a lot of you are kind of a drag to hang out with. You're your own worst enemies in many regards.

You probably would really enjoy hanging out with my grandpa though.
posted by hermitosis at 1:26 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Danlia: So when a man comes along and reduces the issue back down to "attractive or not", whether he's for or against makeup, that is really an example of exactly the problem she is arguing against.

He probably should have framed it differently, but I thought this part of ixohoxi's comment was insightful:

Again, ladies: do whatever you like. Wear makeup, don't wear makeup, wear a human femur in your nose, whatever. It's none of my business.

All I'm trying to express is my continual amazement at the number of women who are convinced, beyond all argument and reason, that they're hideous trolls unless they're wearing some kind of cosmetic product. Who feel obligated to mention when they're not wearing makeup in a particular Facebook photo, like they're apologizing for something. For whom the notion of opting out and simply not buying or using these products is unthinkable.


On preview, what ODiV said.
posted by joedan at 1:26 PM on September 21, 2010


Anyway, sorry. The comments on makeup are more interesting than these comments about comments, so I'll stop posting.
posted by ODiV at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2010


I went back and reread ixohoxi's comment and he talks about the marketing and cultural baggage he sees surrounding makeup.

And my problem with his comment, especially the part about wanting to express his continual amazement, is that you cannot examine make up separate and apart from the weird personal grooming rituals we all have. Whether or not someone wears makeup isn't uniquely up for judgment any more than whether or not a person has a tattoo or sports a beard or has twenty piercings.
posted by gladly at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2010


You probably would really enjoy hanging out with my grandpa though.

I just knew we'd find something to agree on!
posted by Scoo at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2010


What if your husband were a devout Jain?

Well, if he were a Jain he'd probably care more about the BURGER than the ONION, but anyway. You're twisting yourself up in logic and no longer making any sense to me, so I'm going to bow out.
posted by desjardins at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


enn: "Do you think the cleaning products you use are any better for the environment than somebody's fucking eyeliner? Is wearing a tie any less heteronormative? And lots of things cost money. "

The next time we have a thread on cleaning products, you can absolutely call out everyone who doesn't use Seventh Generation products or similar. I'll be right there with you.

As for the tie, well, you're totally right. There's no getting around it. But I'll come out and admit in this thread right now: I wear ties to look attractive or capable to others. I wear ties to show them respect. Many of these people are women, at least some of whom I'm attracted to. These are the reasons why I wear ties. And, absent not wearing clothes at all, it's unfortunately very difficult to come up with a non-heteronormative choice when I get dressed in the morning. Though, you can and should find my complete and total defense of women wearing ties in a non-jokey or non-sexual context to be literally the most I can do on this particular issue.

As for money, well, we've definitely gone there before.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2010


naoko: "And with that, the conversation has crossed over from "women shouldn't feel like they must wear makeup" to the notion that women who do wear it are doing something bad. "

Given that the post frames makeup both as a tool and an addiction, you shouldn't be all that surprised.

Listen, makeup's not the worst thing in the world. It's probably not on the list of the worst 10,000 things. But in any other context, if anyone around here said "Gender X does Y, and that activity is totally above critique for members of Gender Z because they just can't understand" they'd be rightly taken to task both for making a host of assumptions about Gender X and for using social cues as an excuse.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:38 PM on September 21, 2010


It seems strange to me for someone to have "No Makeup Week" to emphasize natural beauty when so many women still feel compelled to go out and get breast implants. Makeup can be washed off, but boob jobs are forever, and they're almost never an improvement over nature.

What the what.
posted by kmz at 1:39 PM on September 21, 2010


What the what.

I'm sorry, there is a lot of what the what in this thread. I couldn't even comment on the breast implant thing, way too much to unpack in those two sentences and I'm trying not to be some big scold.

But..but..still!

Back to ixohohi's comment, why is it amazing that many women feel like they are ugly without makeup? The interesting thing to me is a man's amazement at this. The sentiments expressed by those women reflect a deeper awareness of the way the world works than ixohohi's amazement, yet he implies that they are the ones going against "reason".

And l33tpolicywonk, why do you excuse your "heteronormative" tie-wearing because "it's very difficult to come up with a non-heteronormative choice" but you feel you can come down on women who make the "heteronormative choice" of wearing makeup? Why is your response to criticize and judge, rather than to empathize.

And lesbians can't enjoy makeup? Once again, the problem is not a woman's enjoyment of makeup or lack thereof, but a society that judges her worth because of it.
posted by Danila at 1:47 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero: Of course it can be! Big multi-colored crayons you can WRITE ON YOUR FACE with? Hells yea, that's fun! I can put stuff on my lips to make them smell like cookies or oranges! Weeeeeeee!

Interesting, so what you're saying is..

Say this couple is going to a party, and she says to him "put that video game down, we have to get ready!!" He does as he's told, and 5 minutes later he is ready to go, but there she is in the bathroom still playing with this thing and that. 20 minutes later, there she is still playing. 30 minutes later, he starts to complain that they have to go, or they really will be late. She says "can I help it, I'm a girl, and this is what people expect."

So anyway, you are saying that she really is just playing. Weeeeeeee!

Ya, interesting.
posted by Chuckles at 1:52 PM on September 21, 2010


Danila: "Why is your response to criticize and judge, rather than to empathize."

Not to belabor the point, but you can't have both "I wear makeup because it's fun" and "empathize with me becuase I have to wear makeup. And I do empathize - with people who's skin color isn't "flesh-toned", with kids who have to drink polluted water and with some gay women who feel like they have to compromise their identity by wearing makeup or else be branded dykes.

And with that, I'm bowing out of this thread before a blood vessel pops.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:52 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


So anyway, you are saying that she really is just playing. Weeeeeeee!

Uh, no? That's what you are saying. I'm just saying, makeup can be fun.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:55 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think that someone who has a love-hate relationship with makeup is disingenuous. And I certainly think if we're going to start with "Things we do in the western world that are unethical." we've got some much bigger and more pressing fish to fry than makeup.
posted by ODiV at 1:56 PM on September 21, 2010


Ugh, I feel I should say one more thing because all I've been doing is arguing with other posters and that was never my intention. I feel like I have to push and examine but I don't mean to be pushy.

What I really wanted to say is that I don't wear makeup, don't shave anything, don't straighten my hair, there's a lot of "feminine" things I don't do. And maybe deep down there is some part of me that refrains from doing these things out of protest, but honestly, my strongest feelings all stem from the fact that I just don't like to do them for personal reasons. I don't wear makeup because it makes my skin feel funny and I'm too broke and lazy for nail polish and manicures. I don't shave because I didn't grow up in a culture where that was the norm and it's too much work, also I am afraid the hair will just grow back thicker and faster and I'll be trapped (is this true??). And I don't straighten my hair with relaxers because for me it's high maintenance and makes my hair fall out.

I don't intend for any of these choices to be political or social statements, but in an interconnected society of course they are. But if we're going to focus on those social statements, it seems to me that the more pertinent thing to examine is the society and not the individual's personal choices.
posted by Danila at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


but you can't have both "I wear makeup because it's fun" and "empathize with me becuase I have to wear makeup.

Sure you can. People are complicated.
posted by found missing at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I am afraid the hair will just grow back thicker and faster and I'll be trapped (is this true??)

nope
posted by found missing at 1:59 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given that the post frames makeup both as a tool and an addiction, you shouldn't be all that surprised.

I have been trying to parse this for a good 20 minutes and am not reaching an interpretation other than that addicts are to wholly blame for their addictions. I hope I misunderstood.
posted by naoko at 2:00 PM on September 21, 2010


It looks like Rabbit Write has been taken down.
posted by enn at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2010


Say this couple is going to a party, and she says to him "put that video game down, we have to get ready!!" He does as he's told, and 5 minutes later he is ready to go, but there she is in the bathroom still playing with this thing and that. 20 minutes later, there she is still playing. 30 minutes later, he starts to complain that they have to go, or they really will be late. She says "can I help it, I'm a girl, and this is what people expect."

That has nothing to do with makeup or video games or gendered expectations. That's faulty communication and poor time management skills.
posted by desjardins at 2:03 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize Metafilter posts were OKCupid profiles now.

Well.. How about every MeFite currently with another MeFite put their hand up. I think kmz will be surprised :)
posted by Chuckles at 2:05 PM on September 21, 2010


so will my wife
posted by found missing at 2:06 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm here to tell you that make up is the most terrific thing on this planet. It is a shining miracle substance that takes my face, which for years has been scratched and scraped and slept on and glared at, and turns it into the magnificent thing you now see before you.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:09 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


*hand up*
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2010


If the FPP were about a woman deciding to go a week without the internet, or to ride her bike every day for a week, would it make sense for men to chime in that they like "a woman who can disconnect from the net" or "a woman who can ride a bike"?

I like a woman who can ride a bicycle like a man needs a fish
posted by Greg Nog at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just think what people are trying to say is that women's relationship with make-up is much more complex than just looking attractive for men, and in many cases is the result of societal pressure, often from other women. I very much doubt that women who have to wake up extra early just to "put on their face" in order to not have their co-workers (or strangers on the street!) ask if they're feeling well, or if they're tired, or mention that a little lip-gloss never killed anyone.

And yet, it can be fun. Women have the opportunity to play with their image in a way that men are not socially afforded, and they can enjoy that while still recognizing that maybe they aren't doing this for themselves. I love wearing make-up, but I certainly resent the fact that I have to wear it for work, and I *really* resent it when men think this entitles them to hit on me when I've made it clear I'm not interested, because if I were really a lesbian then I wouldn't be wearing lipstick.

So it's sort of a complex issue. I don't think that the men in this thread who have mentioned that they prefer women without make-up are necessarily wrong to have done so, at all. I'm just a little disappointed because I think men have a richer viewpoint than that. A few men upthread have mentioned their daughters and wives, and I think that an outside view of what women go through is more beneficial than stating an asthetic preference one way or the other.
posted by jnaps at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, ixohohi et. al., after spending nearly six years utilizing this website on a near-daily basis, let me caution you that this is not what I would describe as a "safe space" for exploring many of these issues. There are members who have relationships with the community, and members who paid $5 so they could make a few comments. Your personal emotional safety is at the whim and mercy of both parties - so I would caution against participating in race / gender / pet-ownership conversations with any expectation of a safe exchange of ideas or a safe place for asking complicated questions.

Discussions on religion and international relations, however, seem to be carried out with a surprising degree of mutual respect and benevolent patience.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:17 PM on September 21, 2010


Don't even get me started on pet makeup.
posted by found missing at 2:18 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am afraid the hair will just grow back thicker and faster and I'll be trapped (is this true??)

Nah. New hair seems thicker and darker, at first, because when you have hair somewhere (like on your arms, say) it gets exposed to the elements and bleached by the sun over time to become softer and lighter. That's where the myth comes from. If you started shaving, then stopped, after not very long your hair would be looking like normal again.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:23 PM on September 21, 2010


I heard it was because trimmed hair is blunt on the end, whereas natural, untrimmed hair has a pointed tip. But your answer sounds.... righter.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:30 PM on September 21, 2010


Discussions on religion and international relations, however, seem to be carried out with a surprising degree of mutual respect and benevolent patience.

*chokes*
posted by zarq at 2:37 PM on September 21, 2010


Snopes says that's also the case. It also has a little analogy about a short bamboo shaft being harder to bend than a long one.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:37 PM on September 21, 2010


So anyway, you are saying that she really is just playing. Weeeeeeee!

Yea, dude, totally. Those women, they always tell dudes to hurry up, then take like an hour getting rea...oh, wait, give me one second.

*pulls up brick wall facade and mic stand*

"OH, and, man, do they love shopping. Shopping, shopping, shopping. ALL the time. And always for shoes! You just need one pair of shoes, you crazy female.

And did you ever notice they always go to the bathroom in groups? What's up with that? Women. Hey, is this thing on?"

Is that what you're trying to do? Because if that's the case, you're not as witty and charming as you think you are (oh, I guess you are seeing on preview, that "Whose dating a mefite thing" in response to someone's serious rebuttal). And if that's not the case, you're bringing in some weird baggage to this conversation.
posted by kkokkodalk at 2:42 PM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


without examining all the other senseless beauty standards. For example: I still insist on wearing a bra when I step out of the house.

From way up-thread -- but wow, bras are absolutely necessary for many women, as in it would be terribly uncomfortable to walk around without one. So I don't think it's really fair to make it sound like women who wear bras are somehow slaves to societal demands.

As to the topic at hand, I love make-up and am pretty grateful I can go buy a product at the store that will pretty easily and effortlessly even out my blotchy, red, and sometimes pimply complexion. And beyond that, like many women have already mentioned, I like using make-up, and having options (subtle and fresh-faced during the day or a little glammed up for an occasion, or anything in between). I definitely look prettier with some deftly applied make-up, but I don't think it's tragic or anything to go without. And I never comment on other women wearing or not wearing makeup. That's a personal choice. I hate that, as others have noted, these choices women make regarding their appearance become charged politically, with outsiders making judgments about a given woman's self-esteem or sense of worth or whatnot based on personal grooming decisions. Sorry for that convoluted sentence.
posted by JenMarie at 2:45 PM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


And that is not always irrelevant, but it is clearly irrelevant in this thread

The thread quickly moved from one woman's experiences with makeup to general women's experiences with makeup. "Why do women choose to wear makeup?" is part of that general topic, and unless you're clearly certain that the reason is rarely ever "to appear more attractive to the opposite sex" (is that the case?), then the question of how effective that reason is becomes relevant.

Disclaimer: I am a man, and thus should not express an opinion about women's makeup here, even if that opinion is another datum contrary to many professional advertisements which attempt to insinuate the opposite.
posted by roystgnr at 2:55 PM on September 21, 2010


So, you'd prefer to datum if they weren't wearing makeup?
posted by found missing at 2:57 PM on September 21, 2010


OK, now I must weigh in....

So, I have never really worn that much makeup; and I've always been a little arrogant about it, with the idea that I don't really "need" it most of the time. It's usually a special occasion thing for me, and even then I keep it light. I hate heavy foundation; it makes my face itch, and I can't wait to wash it off. I also resent having to buy lots of make-up, outside of the basics, since I don't know what brands work the best for me and I don't like buying things, trying it on and realizing later I don't like it, and I'm out of money I could have spent on food or books. I also keep what I buy for years, which is not really ideal, but dammit I'm cheap.

And I just recently lost my powder foundation compact in my last move, which is incredibly irritating since I take that with me everywhere.

So yeah, make-up. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's a big pain in the ass. At the most, I think I wear it a couple times a week. Maybe three, if I'm crazy. Does that make me weird?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:07 PM on September 21, 2010


This thread is such a mess! Who cares that there are men saying they 'prefer women who don't wear make-up'? What has a make-up-wearer feeling so maligned by this comment? Is it a lack of self esteem, maybe? I'd seriously like to know.

Jesus, people, stop projecting your issues onto someone who made one little comment in a thread that's about ditching make-up. It seems pertinent to the discussion and is a simple preference that actually has no effect on you, or how you should feel, when you put your makeup on because you like to.

To wear make-up [or not] is about how you would like to present yourself. The moment it becomes about what other people want, you're doing it wrong.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:22 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, fuck you entire field of social psychology and anyone who cares how other people perceive you.
posted by found missing at 3:30 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


This thread is such a mess! Who cares that there are men saying they 'prefer women who don't wear make-up'? What has a make-up-wearer feeling so maligned by this comment? Is it a lack of self esteem, maybe? I'd seriously like to know.

I don't care at all, although ixohoxi's comment did put me on the back foot, mainly because i think of the way it was framed. It was written as if he stepped in through the saloon doors, dug his spurs in, waited for the piano to stop, hitched his hands into his belt and announced, "ladies, ladies - carry on about your business, but here's what I'd like to see. No no, don't argue - I know what i'm talking about."

It all just had a little bit too much of a "wow women are crazy about their makeup amirite" vibe, which is probably why people are reacting so negatively towards it. Someone could have said the exact same thing in a much less Troy McClure style.

Also, you're not really helping with the whole "lack of self esteem" thing. I am perfectly capable of being annoyed about something without being an insecure wallflower.
posted by ukdanae at 3:34 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


then the question of how effective that reason is becomes relevant.

How effective that reason is to you, personally, becomes relevant?

I'll grant you that men's complicity in the whole perpetuation of makeup is no small thing, but if you can't see how voicing your personal male preferences feeds into that complicity in some small way, then I really don't know what to say.

It's not that men aren't allowed to comment on this subject -- nor is MetaFilter set up to be a safe space to keep the dialogue comfortable for a certain group of people. It's that so many men show up to mostly (or only) say how they prefer women to look. And I think that is an interesting phenomenon and worth taking a gander at, but a lot of you dudes on here seem to be upset that anyone would ever question the motives (however unconscious) behind such a statement.
posted by hermitosis at 3:37 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


To wear make-up [or not] is about how you would like to present yourself. The moment it becomes about what other people want, you're doing it wrong.

The point of the project itself is that this sentiment (which lots of women adopt and perpetuate) often proves to be very false in practice. I wish it was as simple as you seem to think it is.

Incidentally, your comment is even more of an overreaction than the comments that it references. This thread hasn't ended up in MeTa yet, but we could still get there if you keep it up.
posted by hermitosis at 3:48 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Count me in as another lady who loves makeup for it's creative and emotive capabilities. It's more of an artistic/expressive outlet than I'd get on a lot of days otherwise. Sometimes my makeup is just a natural and sophisticated way to call attention to my best features. Sometimes it's building an alter ego. I get to be Sparkly Fairydust Martha or Notorious Femme Fatale Martha or Sexy Cat Eye Martha entirely at my whims.

It's been interesting, over the last few years, watching my husband learn to appreciate the artistry and technique behind both subtle and less subtle makeup. He's probably the only guy he knows with an opinion on daytime smokey eyes or variations on "my lips but better" gloss.

That said, I also love it for its "make me look more even toned and rested" powers. I don't think I've left the house without concealer under my eyes since I was 14. I'm fine with feeling like "at least a little bit of concealer face" is better, as opposed to just different, from "totally bare face." I absolutely refuse to feel guilty about that preference.

Not to make myself a member of an oppressed class or anything, but I often suspect being really anti-makeup is a privilege that people with good (even/smooth/clear/not blotchy/whatever) skin don't know they have.

I rather wish it wasn't a gendered thing to be able to feel like you can harness the magical powers of undereye and blemish concealer on those kind of days when it can make all the difference.
posted by mostlymartha at 4:19 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it okay when Craig Ferguson interviews Mindy Kaling and criticizes the weight-loss industry? One of his arguments is that he prefers women who are bigger than the models you see in magazines.
posted by yaymukund at 4:26 PM on September 21, 2010


They do them because they can't resist spreading sparkly-bright petrochemicals all over their faces.

From what I understand it's made out of crushed insects and sheep's intestines... yick.

Hmm. None of my makeup has petrochemicals, or ground up bugs, or sheep's intestines. However I'm fascinated by the implication that makeup contains crazy witch-doctress potions that men's toiletries don't. Or you know, men's supplements*.

Anyway, I like wearing makeup sometimes, though thankfully I've never had to. I've gone through phases of wearing a lot everyday, to wearing none at all for weeks. Now I regularly wear mineral foundation everyday at minimum for the sun protection from the Titanium dioxide.

*Contains carmine, a crushed insect product.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:33 PM on September 21, 2010


My point was more about giving sympathizers who have perhaps misspoken the benefit of the doubt, rather than getting all up in their grill. I enthusiastically support the cause of Feminism, but frankly a lot of you are kind of a drag to hang out with. You're your own worst enemies in many regards.
posted by Scoo


Saying that a lot of feminists are harsh and annoying was also unhelpful to the discussion. I don't find myself to be the worst enemy, but rather those who would try to shame me for standing up against degrading and oppressive speech.
posted by agregoli at 5:59 PM on September 21, 2010


"I call bullshit."

Easy to do when you are talking about sociological surveys.
posted by Sukiari at 6:00 PM on September 21, 2010


I feel like I should wear makeup for 7 days in some sort of solidarity with this writer. Putting makeup on everyday would, for me, be as difficult as it is for her to go without. It's been interesting to read this thread, as the life of a woman who wears makeup is like the inverse of mine in many ways. On a makeup-free day, a woman who normally wears makeup will be asked if she's tired or sick; if I should wear makeup, I will be asked what special occasion I will be attending, or who's my hot date.

Alas, there will be no reverse-makeup-week solidarity, because it is way cheaper to stop wearing makeup than it is to start.

also, my blog would suck: 'again today, my face felt weird, and i found that i wiped most of it off before the end of my first class. time to reapply!'
posted by palindromic at 6:34 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


When my father was in grade 8 in the 50s a girl in his class wore makeup to school one day. The teacher made her come up to the front of the room and wiped it off her face with his handkerchief. When I was in high school in the 80s the sexiest boys (if you weren't into jocks) were the ones wearing mascara.

Make up is hard to learn, though. If you do a half-assed job you look like a fool. I never took the time to learn it and now I can't be bothered. But when men and women turn themselves out and look great I appreciate it. Especially on transit when I'm bored.
posted by aunt_winnifred at 7:27 PM on September 21, 2010


I don't wear makeup. I have never worn makeup. In my teens and twenties, my mom used to beg me to wear makeup, to the point of offering to pay for some, but I never took her up on it. Now that I'm almost forty, I suppose she's given me up as a lost cause. I don't wear makeup because I am a klutz, and imagine that the results of attempting to put makeup on my face would look something like a chimpanzee's attempt at Paint By Numbers. Also my face sweats when it's hot outside, and I live in the south, so it's hot outside a lot of the time.

But a couple of things have happened lately: one, my husband has taken to watching America's Next Top Model, and I am fascinated by the contrast between the shots of models with no makeup on, who aren't all that much better looking than me (at least face-wise, we'll leave the rest of the body aside) and the models with their makeup, who look like models. Two, I seem to have somehow developed a dark strip of skin above my upper lip, that looks like a mustache, even when I have removed any hair there it still looks like a mustache, but it's just skin. The result being that I hate looking in a mirror.

I might need to go get some makeup.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:35 PM on September 21, 2010


As a guy I kind of miss makeup. I used to wear it all the time in my goth days. But I have a more "normal"/classic look now and it's hard to pull off any makeup with that. Sometimes I use clear polish or something. Even without the makeup, I spend more time than most guys I know on my appearance, because I like the way I look then. I'm pretty sure I'd be wearing makeup if I was a woman or still a goth/emo/punk/etc (in other words, if the look I was going for allowed for / required makeup). I don't care whether women I know wear makeup or not, but I do think that some women do a really awesome job with it and can appreciate that (some of the YouTube makeup artist people are really amazing, for example).
posted by wildcrdj at 8:15 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love makeup. It's insanely fun to play around with and wear different colors and adjust the perception of how you look in different ways. I wear it to work or on dates, with varying degrees. I wear it out. I get in makeup 'moods', where I feel like wearing lots of eyeliner or red lipstick. It's fun, and it's all about what I like and how I feel. I go without it in the outside world too and I'm comfortable with that.

Obviously, some people buy into the belief that they look terrible without makeup, or that they are somehow less without it, but as you can see, there are those of us who really just love the ability to have that outlet to express ourselves and be creative with it.

This is an interesting series of blog posts, and I'm curious to read more.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:02 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was planning to leave this thread alone—but since so much of it ended up being about my original comment, I feel like I should duck in for one last note.

Perhaps I spoke poorly. If I did, then I apologize, and I will try to speak more carefully and thoughtfully in the future.

But I get the feeling that no matter how carefully and thoughtfully I had spoken, some MeFites would be determined to find something to get upset about, and to interpret any man's comments on feminist issues in the least charitable way possible. The list of charges that has been laid at my feet is frankly too ridiculous to bother responding to.

(There are also a lot of users on MeFi who have contributed to some thought-provoking, fascinating, moving discussions on feminist issues. My sincere thanks go out to those people, because I've learned a lot from them.)

I have to agree with Scoo. I'm sincerely interested in exploring feminist ideas, for a variety of reasons. (Though a couple of you seem convinced that any man who shows an interest in feminism is just trying to impress women so he can get in their pants, I assure you that some of us are, on occasion, capable of interacting with the world in ways other than "ME WANT FUCK".)

But there is a vocal minority in online feminist discussion in general, and MeFi in particular, that seem hell-bent on shutting men out of the conversation. I think most of them are good people with good intentions—who simply search a little too vigilantly for enemies to defend against. To be sure, guys sometimes say stupid shit in these conversations, and they should be called out for it—but if Enemies of Feminism are what you're looking for, that's what you're going to see.

Some people upthread have opined that men have no right to get involved in feminist conversations at all. Those people are entitled to that opinion, but I don't share it. It seems to me that if men and women can't even talk about these issues, we're doomed from the start.

Sharing my ideas about an issue is not the same thing as commanding other people to agree with or conform to those ideas. It's just, you know, talking, like people do. I certainly can't force anyone to talk about them with me, but so long as there are people willing to do so, I intend to keep talking about them.

At any rate, my original comment wasn't even about my preference for non-made-up women, or what women should or shouldn't do. It was about the disbelief that statement engenders in many women, which is curious to me. I was simply sharing an observation of a curious thing from my own experience.

I think that some insights as to why women might have that disbelief, or why my observations were mistaken or incomplete, or pretty much anything, would have been more constructive than the GRAR we ended up with.

Feminism is a big topic, and feminists disagree among themselves on many questions. If two women have different ideas about a particular topic within feminism, there's generally an understanding that—despite the disagreement—both parties have arrived at their ideas in good faith. However, if a man expresses the same idea, there's often at least one person ready to slam him and ascribe all sorts of nefarious motives to him for expressing it. (Again: expressing an idea is not the same thing as issuing an order.)

You'll note that my comment was favorited by at least a couple of users whose feminist credentials are beyond doubt. I point this out only because I can't help but think that the response would have been far different had similar sentiments been posted by one of those women.

Nothing I've said here, or anywhere else, is meant to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't think or do. If you are reading it that way, you are misreading it. If you find yourself unable to believe that, you may want to ask yourself why you're so invested in seeing me as an enemy rather than a friend.

And with that, I'm done. I welcome civil MeMail.
posted by ixohoxi at 9:24 PM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I thought this was Metafilter, not ONTD.
posted by Evilspork at 10:38 PM on September 21, 2010


Mrs. KokuRyu, who is from Japan, wears makeup primarily as a way to protect her skin from the harsh UV light here in Canada. She's always amazed at how women in Canada never seem to cover up or wear makeup, especially in summer, because it will lead to earlier wrinkles and freckles.

Hmm. Weird. I definitely don't wear make-up daily (certainly not foundation--the zits!--though sometimes I wear a bit of UV protective powder), but I always, always wear sunscreen. It seems to me that it's a less labor intensive way to protect one's skin. It certainly agrees more with my complexion. I break out when I wear a full face of make-up, and that starts a terrible cycle of needing to cover up to cover zits.

I enjoy wearing eye make-up and lip gloss and stuff sometimes, though. My favorite brand is Nyx. Lots of pretty colors, and cheap! Most fashion choices I make are for the pretty colors. But I've never really felt obligated to wear make-up, and I hope I never do. There's something about that obligation that just saps the joy out of things like that for me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 PM on September 21, 2010


Radical feminists who go out of their way to shut out any male voices from feminist discussion infuriate me, the fact that my thoughts and ideas are immediately considered invalid or somehow lacking due to my genitalia makes me so angry.

I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a woman.
posted by fullerine at 1:56 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, this thread got long! I'm responding to responses to my post, which is way up there, back when rocks were soft and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Pax: I actually do know what a light makeup job looks like: foundation and/or powder (especially powder) has a different texture than actual skin. And my students are almost universally made up. This seems a requirement for young women in this particular town, and this particular school. But my colleagues never wear it.

I love fussing with my appearance via clothes & shoes and hair. I just don't bother with makeup, mostly because it makes very little to no difference to my looks: I don't look prettier or better rested, and I never look like my features are different. When I wear makeup I look like myself with makeup on. The colour on my eyelids and lips has never made a bit of difference as far as attractiveness goes.
posted by jrochest at 1:57 AM on September 22, 2010


I just don't bother with makeup, mostly because it makes very little to no difference to my looks.

Well, just playing Devil's Advocate here, but are your skills with makeup such that you know how to say, make your eyes look bigger/smaller, contour your nose, cheeks, or face, or other skills that people use with makeup to affect the way they are perceived?

These skills take practice and time, and if you're not 'into' makeup, you may not know.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

Not judging, just showing that makeup can make a difference in someone's looks when applied using certain techniques. The colors matter too.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:15 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


ixohoxi, I'm actually really grateful for your last comment here, which I think does a fine job of clarifying your point.

I'm just disappointed that you also decided to say "I have to agree with Scoo" and then linked to that user's comment stating: "I enthusiastically support the cause of Feminism, but frankly a lot of you are kind of a drag to hang out with. You're your own worst enemies in many regards."

Honestly? I know feminism is complex and full of contrasting opinions, but your approval of statements like this one leave little doubt as to whether your disdain for feminists will ever be anything but totally reciprocal.
posted by hermitosis at 7:36 AM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have a feeling that Barbara Kruger doesn't like her style, right down to the white futura bold oblique on red, being ripped off for some weak blog stunt.

If this thread evidences anything, it's that Barbara was right.
posted by fontophilic at 7:48 AM on September 22, 2010


There's "men and women can't even talk about these issues" and then there's men shouldn't get to talk at women without having their perspective challenged, which is how I see it. As a woman, I am used to men challenging me and debating my perspective if I share my opinion. This happens pretty much regardless of topic. I also observe men debating and disagreeing with each other, often quite vehemently, without people abandoning the discussion and complaining about being oppressed. But when I as a woman challenge the perspective of a man, now I am a "radical feminist" who doesn't want men to participate in discussions with women at all.
posted by Danila at 8:53 AM on September 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


I didn't find ixohoxi's initial comment so bothersome, but I understand how it might be received that way. If broken down, it can be shorthanded this way:

1 I happen to prefer women without makeup
2 why do so many women believe I can't possibly know what that looks like?
3 Yes, I do prefer women without makeup
4 but, do what you want; none of my business
5 however, I'm amazed by how many women are convinced they are ugly without makeup
6 which is (the result of) marketing techniques now also being directed towards men

Remark 1 about preference leads directly to the question in 2 about why it's so often found unbelievable. Comment 3 was an unnecessary repetition, and remark 4 attempts to head off criticism about having expressed a preference (twice). 5 is sort of a further development of 2, in the sense of expressing surprise at why so many women think "looking good without makeup = unpossible!" but, this is a bit disingenuous, because it leads directly to 6, which addresses the incredible success of advertising at engendering (heh) this feeling and brings up how men are becoming the new target.

It's not so difficult to see how 1 through 5 might be seen as a man insistently pushing a personal preference about what women choose. 6 is a lot more interesting and a very good point of discussion. In most neutral conversations, the progression of 1 to 6 wouldn't be much of an issue, if noticed at all... it's kind of a stream of thought comment, which we all do. But this is going to be more touchy, because, yeah that whole thing about a lot of men believing that it's all about what they expect/like/prefer/are attracted to — so as a guy you sort of have to accept that this is a common framing problem, and try to avoid that if you care. And of course, as always, people taking offense can try to respond in ways that don't shut people (participating in good faith) down.
posted by taz at 10:09 AM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree with you taz.

Take that Craig Ferguson clip where he says he prefers larger women. Like men who prefer women without makeup, Ferguson's view is in the minority, or, and this is important, we are led to believe that it is the minority. Guys who like "fat chicks" and "plain women" are odd at best and freaks at worst. Now, considering the fact that in America, most women are overweight and most women also date and form attachments, I think the presumption that a man who prefers large women is an outlier is clearly wrong.

But there is an orthodoxy that is heavily invested in making us think otherwise. This is used to promote the beauty myth, macho masculinity, and a great many other ideologies which are sexist to the core. Both men and women enforce these myths, in fact, women probably do more of the day-to-day enforcement, but in the end it is male privilege which is ultimately reinforced in order to keep us separated, to keep women inferior, to keep resources hoarded, to maintain a society where domination is the norm.

So from that perspective, then yes it is relevant when a man says that actually he prefers _women who don't conform in some way_.

But, that wasn't really the perspective I saw being offered. I mean, I guess it's tricky. But statements like Ferguson's or those of men who say they prefer women sans makeup can also be used to reinforce sexism and the orthodox view. Especially when those statements are offered in concurrence with statements deriding women for their "choices". Context matters a great deal. Because sometimes they're just another way to say that attractiveness to men is what's most significant about women. It's no comfort to go from "fat chicks are ugly" to "skinny chicks are ugly".
posted by Danila at 11:15 AM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wear make-up to work. Part of it is wanting to feel more 'polished' - not to say that women who don't wear it are somehow less professional, but like choosing what to wear I feel it puts me in a 'I'm going to go out and do something' frame of mind. As a teen I barely left the house without it because I thought I looked HIDEOUS - I still think I look better with it on, but sometimes I choose not to wear it, because I'm just going about my day and it doesn't matter.

It's fun. I can use it to cover up scabs (I have an OCD skin-picking thing), to colour in my eyelids to match my outfit, to make myself look like a 1950s screen goddess on a night out. (If you think that make-up is only a tool for women's self-esteem, take a look at some of the make-up tutorials on YouTube or some of Kevyn Aucoin's books and see how different people make themselves look with a few creams and powders.). It makes my eyes look bigger, which is good as they are teeny tiny, and is handy if I'm a bit under the weather and feel crappy. As a crafter I work with colour a lot and like thinking about what colours work together, and make-up is a little extension of that.

It takes me, daily, ten minutes or so to apply on the Tube, when I don't really have anything better to do. Honestly, daily shaving looks far more of a hassle. It does get expensive - I tend to buy things that work well a few times a year, which means going to Boots and parting with £35 or so a time, ouch - but then so does dying my hair or wearing tights or wearing perfume anything else I choose to do because it alters the way I feel a little bit. It makes me a bit sad that it isn't socially acceptable for men to wear it. A colleague is a drag queen and it takes him literally hours to get ready.

My mum doesn't wear make-up, save a bit of blusher, and I wish that someone had shown me how to use the stuff earlier rather than my having to figure it out for myself. Age 15, I bought one of those duo shadow sets, light blue and dark blue. I figured that the different colours meant the dark one must have to go on the eyelid, and the lighter one all the way up to the eyebrow. I looked like Pat Butcher cast as a pantomime dame, and an unappealing boy dismissed me with 'No thanks, I don't do slags.'
posted by mippy at 2:53 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh - and if this makes me sound a product of social forces and advertising, I rarely wear heels and couldn't care less if other women wear make-up and/or shave. And I find wearing nail varnish is tedious to apply and makes my fingers nervous.
posted by mippy at 2:55 PM on September 22, 2010


And I do empathize - with people who's skin color isn't "flesh-toned"

You know, make-up is part of this discussion. It's easy enough to find foundation, say, if you're white, unless you are very fair. Not so for Asian, Far Eastern or black people - they have to spend more and go to more specialist stores.
posted by mippy at 3:08 PM on September 22, 2010


You know, make-up is part of this discussion. It's easy enough to find foundation, say, if you're white, unless you are very fair. Not so for Asian, Far Eastern or black people - they have to spend more and go to more specialist stores.

Data point: This isn't usually the case in the US, especially in cities.

Lines like Mac which specialize in having a wide range of cosmetic shades, are carried in mainstream stores and are not typically difficult to locate. Once a person has determined the shades they like, they can also order online.
posted by zarq at 4:04 PM on September 22, 2010


But it is true; MAC is a more specialist store/line where you have to spend more. Drugstore makeup is a gamble for everybody, but I don't bother with it at all anymore; I could fill three makeup kits with all the 'white people makeup' I've taken a chance on only to find I couldn't possibly wear it. Even if you want to spend the extra money, the vast majority of department store makeup is much less diverse than MAC's anyway. Some brands don't even attempt the really dark shades; the blacker among us must simply go elsewhere. And it's not just foundation that's optimised for white women either, it's everything: lipsticks, blushes, eyeshadows and liners. Whole collections come out all the time exclusively (or almost) in pale frosty pinks and peaches and, haha, nudes. These products aren't even designed to show up, let alone look good, on dark skin. There are much harder hardships, but I buy a lot of makeup and I can at least tell you that this is definitely going on. As with so many things, black women are acutely aware, even as we accept it as routine, that the people we give so much of our business to just don't have us in mind.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:55 PM on September 22, 2010


Hundreds of comments in and nobody posted this?
posted by swooz at 7:13 PM on September 22, 2010


Really? I live in London - the ethnic minority population is larger than average- and as far as I can see the ranges are limited if you aren't willing to go to department stores. A lot of the time, 'specialist' ranges are confined to cities - and teens can't easily travel to them or order online even if they could afford it. I grew up in a town with a sizeable Asian population, and a population of about 100,000 - you had a choice between drugstore and maybe Lancome, neither of which are great for darker skins. It's also not a rich area, so no store that charges £18 for a foundation is going to open up there. Maybe that's why the fashion in that town is for streaky fake tan...
posted by mippy at 3:27 AM on September 23, 2010


Data point: This isn't usually the case in the US, especially in cities.

With all due respect, NYC =/ the US. Here in New England, there's enough of a minority population to warrant drug stores carrying a variety of shades of foundation, but you'll be lucky outside of Boston to find anything that's not "White" or "Whiter." (Even in Boston, I don't remember the stores carrying a huge variety, though certainly they had a bigger selection than what you find in smaller towns.)
posted by sonika at 5:41 AM on September 23, 2010


With all due respect, NYC =/ the US. Here in New England, there's enough of a minority population to warrant drug stores carrying a variety of shades of foundation, but you'll be lucky outside of Boston to find anything that's not "White" or "Whiter." (Even in Boston, I don't remember the stores carrying a huge variety, though certainly they had a bigger selection than what you find in smaller towns.)

I'm not referring to New York. And I quite clearly said "especially in cities" in my answer. When I lived in the Texas Panhandle, in a city with under 100,000 residents, the extensive Mexican Latina population there guaranteed that there would be makeup lines available that had shades other than "White" or "Whiter."

Population demographics and income logically guide what cosmetic brands will be available in a given region, and whether those brands will be available in larger or small outlets. If you're living in an area of the US that is 91% white and less than 3% Asian, like say, the state of Rhode Island, it is unlikely that a small local drugstore is going to carry a plethora of brands aimed at Asian women.
posted by zarq at 9:04 AM on September 23, 2010


But it is true; MAC is a more specialist store/line where you have to spend more. Drugstore makeup is a gamble for everybody, but I don't bother with it at all anymore; I could fill three makeup kits with all the 'white people makeup' I've taken a chance on only to find I couldn't possibly wear it. Even if you want to spend the extra money, the vast majority of department store makeup is much less diverse than MAC's anyway.

These are all excellent points.
posted by zarq at 10:00 AM on September 23, 2010


Data point: This isn't usually the case in the US, especially in cities.

Lines like Mac which specialize in having a wide range of cosmetic shades, are carried in mainstream stores and are not typically difficult to locate. Once a person has determined the shades they like, they can also order online.


Not even just lines like MAC--I don't think I've ever been in a drugstore on the east coast that didn't have a Black Radiance section, though I'm not sure how high their quality is. I am a big fan of Milani, too, which seems to cater to a wide range of skin tones, and which I'd highly recommend if you can find it; it's carried at most CVSes.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:30 AM on September 23, 2010


(And apparently they originally advertised to WOC. Hmm. Sad that they don't anymore. Anyway, I'd still recommend them.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:32 AM on September 23, 2010


If you're living in an area of the US that is 91% white and less than 3% Asian, like say, the state of Rhode Island, it is unlikely that a small local drugstore is going to carry a plethora of brands aimed at Asian women.

The city of Providence is less than 91% white and I definitely do not see this represented in make up selection. There's a significant Hispanic population and outside of specific Hispanic/Afro-Caribbean beauty stores, most of the make up I see is "white" and "whiter."

I don't think I've ever been in a drugstore on the east coast that didn't have a Black Radiance section,

Oh, I can show you a couple.
posted by sonika at 10:40 AM on September 23, 2010


The city of Providence is less than 91% white and I definitely do not see this represented in make up selection. There's a significant Hispanic population and outside of specific Hispanic/Afro-Caribbean beauty stores, most of the make up I see is "white" and "whiter."

So is your objection that it's hard to find? Or that it's not available in the same quantity and on the same shelves as say, Prescriptives?

Does the size of Providence's minority population justify greater visibility and availability?
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2010


Does the size of Providence's minority population justify greater visibility and availability?

Yes, absolutely it does. The city is covered in bilingual signs - in some area, signage is only in Spanish. I looked up the stats, and Providence is 30% Hispanic, which sounds about right. If 1/3 of your potential customers are Hispanic, stocking make-up that suits Hispanic skin just seems like good business sense.

My objection is that the casual New England "We're not racists" racism continues through things like "Well, we here at this nice drugstore don't need to stock cosmetics for non-white people because they have their own stores." But that's an issue entirely different from just make up availability and really not worth delving into in this thread.
posted by sonika at 11:09 AM on September 23, 2010


If 1/3 of your potential customers are Hispanic, stocking make-up that suits Hispanic skin just seems like good business sense.

OK. Completely agree.

My objection is that the casual New England "We're not racists" racism continues through things like "Well, we here at this nice drugstore don't need to stock cosmetics for non-white people because they have their own stores."

I can't speak to that. I don't have direct experience with that kind of racism in New England.

I suppose I can see how stock items to appeal to a clientele that doesn't normally frequent a store could be a losing proposition. But that's about it.

But that's an issue entirely different from just make up availability and really not worth delving into in this thread.

Agree with you here, too.
posted by zarq at 11:22 AM on September 23, 2010


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