A good friend of mine once posted her before and after makeup pictures on Twitter. The pictures were both gorgeous. However, when I scrolled down to see the comment section I was shocked. Aside from those who said she had bleached her skin, others were so quick to tell her that she didn’t need the makeup, and others even told her to do away with it. This may sound like a compliment to you as you read this, that she’s so pretty she doesn’t even need makeup. But to me, it sounds a lot like “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” It’s an insult disguised in a compliment. In short, it makes it seem like makeup is for ugly girls who want to hide their insecurities. They said that she looked better without the makeup, which made me wonder why anyone would automatically assume that makeup is a cover-up for our flaws rather than a form of art and self-expression.
Let’s take a look at the origin of makeup. The first use of prototype cosmetics is usually traced back to the ancient Egyptians; many Egyptian tombs contained makeup canisters and kits. Cleopatra used lipstick that got its hue from ground carmine beetles, while other women used clay mixed with water to colour their lips. At the dawn of the 20th century though, products that we would recognize today such as mascara, lipstick and the likes began to emerge.
Makeup is a form of self-expression. I wake up one day and I want my eyelids to be as bright as the sun. Why not? Why should anyone feel intimidated by this when it has nothing to do with them? It’s a way of enhancing one’s facial features and bringing them out. It can make you feel powerful and ready to face the world. So why do women wear makeup? Simple. Because we want to and because it makes us feel good.
I recognise the fact that inner beauty matters too and is very important. I also recognise the fact that makeup does not directly translate to beauty. Makeup will not fix your personality and it may not change the way you feel about yourself. TLC’s “Unpretty” has a proper illustration of this. You can buy your hair if it won’t grow, you can fix your nose if he says so. You can buy all the make-up that MAC can make. But if you can’t look inside you, find out who am I too? Be in a position to make me feel so damn unpretty.
I haven’t always been into makeup. In fact, for the better part of my life, I used lip balm and that was it. I didn’t even know what concealer, foundation and highlight were for until maybe two years back. However, once I started learning how to use it, I fell in love. It’s like painting. You do it over and over again and see yourself progressing. It’s beautiful and it’s a great invention. When I started to use makeup, I realised that a lot of people had unsolicited comments. Telling me that they preferred girls who are natural, or that I had changed. I wasn’t the person they used to know. That’s okay, but if you prefer girls who are natural, what is stopping you from going after them without putting down the others? What I’m saying is, let people express themselves in the way that makes them feel empowered, for as long as they’re not affecting anyone negatively.
Someone put up a post on twitter about how they had seen an influencer and she didn’t look the way she did with makeup on. He even went ahead to say that makeup helps a lot of women to hide their flaws. Her response killed it. She said, “You think I use my hard-earned money on makeup and spend hours doing it to look exactly how I looked before?”
When will we learn to leave people alone, and let them do whatever they want with their bodies and their lives? When will we learn that our negative criticism isn’t always needed? Why is minding our own business such a foreign concept, and why do we feel the need to bash people instead of spreading love?
I will leave you with this beautiful quote from the poem Our Deepest Fear: As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others the power to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.