I Got A Blank Face, Baby

Fun fact about me: I don’t wear make-up. Not in an “I go for a natural look that requires only concealer” kind of way. Not in an “I don’t wear make-up unless it’s a formal occasion” kind of way. (Though, these are perfectly valid reasons.) For me, it’s an “I don’t wear make-up at all because it’s a lifestyle choice” kind of way. I didn’t wear it to either of my high school proms. I didn’t wear it to any of the sorority formals I’ve attended. I didn’t wear it to the premiere of the first feature-length film I directed. I didn’t wear it to high school or college graduation. And when I get married in September, I won’t be wearing it at my wedding.

Me at college graduation
with no make-up, hairy legs,
and visible tattoos. Still pretty!
I want to start off by addressing a point that I’ll expand on later: I don’t think that avoiding make-up is the “right” way to do things. It’s just the right way for ME. If you like wearing make-up, for artistic reasons, aesthetic reasons, self-esteem reasons– whatever reasons you may have, no matter what gender you are– I think that’s great. I’m of the mindset that people should do what makes them happy, free of negative judgment. In this post, I intend to explain why I made this choice, and the ways our culture isn’t always accepting of it. For that purpose, I’m going to list the things that are NOT my reasons for choosing not to wear make-up, in hopes of debunking any stereotypes that people may have.
1. It’s not because I’m lazy.
I’m not lazy. I’m one of those high-stress, type-A people that seems to have an endless supply of energy. Calling me lazy would be an insult to lazy people. I’m the opposite of lazy, and it applies to my appearance just as much as anything else. In fact, I’m very particular about the choices I make regarding my appearance. I take the time to find the clothes that fit me properly, to work out to keep the body shape where I’m happiest, and to maintain my hair so it’s as huge and reminiscent of all the bad parts of the 80s as possible. I sat through an hour and a half of needle penetration in order to get a huge tattoo on my arm. I’ve spent time and money dying my hair purple three times. Trust me, if I wanted to wear make-up, I’d be more than happy to devote the effort to it.
All too often, I see the stereotype that women who don’t wear make-up are “lazy” being perpetuated in the media. For example, one of my favorite shows, the makeover reality show What Not to Wear (which I’m so sad was cancelled… it was definitely in my top ten guilty pleasures) was always doing this. Whenever they would have a contestant who didn’t wear make-up, she would always say it was because she was “too busy” or “too lazy” or “had let herself go.” Then, after getting her a new wardrobe, she would always have to learn how to put on make-up and wear it for the finale. The few times this show had male contestants, the hosts never taught them to wear make-up, even though the male contestants described their reasons for poor style the same way the women did. And though I understand that the show had to conform at least somewhat to typical gender roles in order to appeal to a mass audience, it still always bugged me.
2. It’s not because I’m trying to reject my femininity.
You can be a feminine, beautiful woman with or without make-up on. Period.
3. It’s not because I’m trying to make some radical feminist political statement.
I am a feminist. But I firmly believe that part of feminism is giving women the choice to do what makes them happy, without the stigma that certain life choices are superior or inferior based on their relation to traditional gender roles. I don’t think whether or not you wear make-up is correlative with how good of a feminist you are. You’re a feminist if you believe that men and women should be treated equally, and your actions help contribute toward that equality. Part of that equality is the freedom to choose how you want to live your life, and how you want to present YOUR face to the world.
Here I am not wearing make-up
at the prom. Tyler's gonna kill me
for posting a picture of him from
before he had a beard.
At the same time, I’m getting really tired of make-up being a prerequisite for being considered feminine. When I was a young teenager, I really enjoyed reading self-help books (which, come to think of it, is probably why I still binge-watch Dr. Phil). I had this one book, aimed at middle-school-age girls, and one of the chapters was about making your school pictures look better. I figured, hey, my school pictures are always super awkward, so I could use some tips. However, the book lost all credibility with one sentence in the chapter’s opening paragraph: “If you don’t wear make-up yet, don’t worry.” Yet? Why yet? That sentence would have functioned just fine, both grammatically and semantically, without the word “yet.” YET, the writers felt it belonged. YET, they assumed that the only reason a girl wouldn’t wear make-up is that she’s too young. YET, they assumed that all women will be wearing make-up at some point in the future, even if they aren’t now. It was written as an expectation, a universal truth. When I read that book, I was thirteen and didn’t wear make-up (yet). Now, I’m twenty-four and don’t wear make-up (yet). (Side note: the chapter went on to be almost entirely make-up tips and was utterly useless to me. I guess I was just doomed to a life of bad school pictures. You should see my driver’s license.)
So now, I’ve spent a lot of time explaining the wrong reasons for why I don’t wear make-up. So what’s the right reason? Honestly, it’s the obvious one: I just prefer my face this way. I feel the most confident and beautiful when my face is completely naked. And when I’m going on dates, to formals, and to job interviews, those are the times I want to feel the MOST confident and beautiful. And that is a way every woman deserves to feel.

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