The Transformative Power of Makeup

written by: Dena AlFadhli

“Why do you wear makeup?”

This question infuriates me. Digs deep beneath my bones, steaming my blood.

Not when the genuinely curious ask, but when the ingenuine people, who looks at you with eyes seething with judgement, ask to make you feel inferior.

We live in an age where the scrutinizing pressure to be as small as Miranda Kerr, as curvy as Scarlett Johanssen, with skin as ageless as Jennifer Lawrence and lips as full as Irina Shayk is the dominant occupation eating at every woman’s brain. And yet, on top of all this, we push for natural beauty. We manipulate the media so that we don’t frown upon the use of beauty enhancing products but make people feel guilty for using them...as if we are supposed to achieve these beauty standards with no effort. On the one hand, we are bombarded with media headlines focused on “natural beauty” or “the natural glow”. But on the other, we are marketed beauty products left and right; everyday a new product for long, luscious lashes or plump lips is thrown at us. So which direction do we choose? If we sacrifice our beauty products in the face of natural beauty, we fear we will lose acceptance. But if we keep using these products that cover our flaws and smooth our imperfections, we are seen as uncomfortable in our own skin.

For some, applying makeup is a source of power; in the midst of the chaos of the world it is one of the few things in life we have control over. For others, it is just part of the daily routine. It is a custom that offers structure. And for others, makeup is an art. It is a way to express and showcase creativity.  

Over the past few weeks, I went around Boston talking to different people with one goal in mind: to explore why these different individuals choose to wear makeup. I asked, “How does wearing makeup make you feel?” Here are some responses:

“It makes me feel like the best version of myself.”

“Like I’m ready to conquer the world.”

“Like my face is the canvas and I just created a masterpiece.”

“I feel like makeup is another way of demonstrating to myself and others that I’m a badass bitch and look like one too.”

“Wearing makeup, I feel, definitely boosts my confidence because it helps enhance and accentuate what I think is beautiful about my face by helping me minimize and mask flaws that distract from those beautiful features.”

“To me, wearing makeup is a way to express my creativity. Makeup is an art form in which you can create different looks to reflect your mood that day. Wearing makeup makes me feel like I can try new things and take risks because at the end of the day it’s just makeup and it all washes off.”

“When my makeup is put together, my life is put together.”

“I have three kids. So doing my makeup in the morning is the only free time I get; it’s the highlight of my day. It puts me in control when I can’t control them.”

“In today's world, we barely have time to focus on taking care of ourselves and doing what makes us happy. We wake up, go to work, come home, eat and then sleep. But finding those few minutes at the beginning of my day to do something for me, really makes all the difference. It’s what makes me happy.”

“Have you ever heard people say that if you want to finish a task, start by doing a bunch of little tasks. Like making your bed, or getting dressed. Well, for me it’s putting on makeup. Once my makeup is on, I’m more motivated to get my day going and feel like any task after that is easier.”

“When I buy or wear makeup, I feel like, for one of the few times in my life, I’m investing in myself.”

“Like I can be anyone I want to be.”

“It makes me feel like people are going ‘Damn girl!’ when I walk by.”

“When I leave my house with no makeup on, my head is down, I’m slouching, and walking as fast as I can. Now, when I leave my house with makeup on, my chin is up, and I’m walking around like I own the streets.”

“I wear makeup because I can...and fuck anyone else who says otherwise”

This final quote encapsulates my thoughts on this topic. If dragging yourself out of bed in the morning and putting on makeup sickens you and just makes you feel uncomfortable all day long, then don’t do it. But if you can relate to any of these responses, or have your own reasons for rocking your makeup look, then that’s fine too! You are not a mere reflection of the latest fashion or beauty trend, you are whatever or whoever you want to be. Whether that means spending five hours on your makeup or no time at all. The media has put us down for wanting to look like the woman in the magazines, but we see those woman as confident, radiant and beautiful! It’s okay to want to look like that too!

So the next time someone ignorantly asks you why you wear makeup, smile, look them in the eye and tell them it’s because you can. Then proceed to walk away, face radiantly lit up, knocking down everyone you pass with your bold and striking demeanor.