Did any of you catch the debate over on the New York Times last week? For those who didn’t, the NYT got a group of makeup artists and writers to give their opinions on whether makeup helps to improve one’s self-esteem or whether is it a sign of disempowerment.
Each piece is really short – about 300 to 400 words – and all of them support the idea that makeup helps to boost one’s self confidence. What is so bad about that?
To a certain degree, “Must This Get Political?” reflects how I feel about the topic and does bring up questions that I have been asking myself through the years: If makeup is supposed to help boost my self-esteem, why does it also feel like a potential form of disempowerment?
Others might also reasonably ask the question: Does it really matter? People should have the freedom to wear makeup, whatever their motivations, and the reason does not matter. If it helps them feel better about themselves, then so be it. Why make an issue about it?
Wearing concealer to cover an uneven complexion gives us the confidence to face the world. Red lipstick on a night out transforms the way we think and feel about ourselves. After all, it takes confidence to pull off that bright lip so we will naturally be more aware of how we behave that night. Positive self-esteem is always a good thing and makeup is a tool to help us achieve that.
However, it troubles me when I see young girls or women wearing heavy makeup – not because of bad application skills – but because it shows what little confidence they have in the way they look; where they have to wear masks to face the world. The replies I have been given about their heavy-makeup usage troubles me because they strongly parallel responses I have heard and read about eating disorders and drug abuse. Some may say that using makeup is less damaging than drug abuse – depending on which side of the cosmetics and toxins debate they are on – but it still disturbingly seems like a form of addiction to me.
What I am trying to get at here is that makeup can be a double-edged sword. It changes the way we see ourselves and gives us the confidence to stand straighter in public. However, the pursuit of beauty is risky as it taps into our insecurities about the way we look. Depending on how we feel about ourselves, that red lip can either open new doors for us or take us on a downward spiral. While not all of us fall in the latter category, it is well worth remembering that that might be the case for others around us.
Feel free to leave your thoughts down below. I know it seems odd for a beauty blogger to write about makeup issues that are not concerned with application or chemicals but I do think that this is an issue worth thinking about.