Alicia Keys’ shock appearance at the recent MTV Music Video Awards sans makeup is very timely for this first edition of CHICK Chat. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and the internet is full of gasp-worthy photos and articles about the performer’s brave and bold move. What a load of rubbish. Before this goes any further, it’s worth pointing out the reflection this is on society, that we are so shocked to see a woman’s bare face in public.
CHICK Chat September 16, the inaugural edition. First topic of discussion: Makeup- when women use it, why they use it, how it makes them feel. Over vegan taco bowls and sangria, I introduced the concept of discussion to my guests. I recently came to the daunting realisation that I am far more reliant on makeup than thought, and would like to admit (you can read about that here). My daily routine of makeup application, has made me unhappy with my appearance when not painted in a cosmetic mask. I consider myself a confident person and didn’t expect I would be so confronted by something as materialistic as makeup- but I am. This is where we opened the conversation from.
Amongst the group of females around me, do they have the same relationship with makeup as I do, or are they not fazed by a bare face? Is it something ingrained in my personality that makes me so reliant on it, or has it to do with society or my upbringing?
As you’ll see below, the personal responses to each individual’s relationship broached a number of topics. Makeup in the workplace, makeup for enjoyment, comparison of oneself against other females and makeup to hide perceived ‘flaws’ were all issues discussed, with varying significance for everyone. For a raw and unedited portrayal of their association with cosmetics, I also had them fill out a prompting sheet.
“I really like makeup and only like doing it when I’m going out…I take my time, because it’s an art but I wouldn’t wear it every day”
“do you know what my pet peeve is. When people say oh you don’t have to wear makeup, your skin is so good. Like, no one has to wear makeup! No one has to wear it, it’s a choice. You don’t have to tell me I don’t have to, I’ll wear makeup when I want to.”
“Ive always been a person who compares themselves with other people, that’s just me. And I always get super critical of myself around girls with lots of makeup.”
“One time I was called into work from uni, so I had to go in with only BB cream and mascara on and it was horrible. The whole shift I felt so ugly. All these girls I saw at the shopping centre, I would compare myself with and get super self-conscious”
“I would be more likely to wear makeup working in retail than I would in childcare. But I would still wear it everyday actually.”
“Even in childcare, when the parents come, you’re already feeling gross in your uniform and then you’ve got no makeup on. You don’t feel level. After 12/1 oclock my bags start going away, but when I wake up I have massive bags under my eyes and I look terrible.”
“I hate it when people think I wear makeup for anyone other than myself.”
“I used to always wear makeup to work but if my face got oily it would run off my nose. I would feel more insecure about it”.
“I never wear makeup to work, like ever. This one time I wore it to work because I had something on that evening, and it would have been the first time in around 2 years I wore it. In the evening a girl I work with came up to me and said “[anon] and [anon] think you’re wearing too much makeup and you need to calm down because its only childcare”. What did they mean too much for childcare?”
“If I’m somewhere like a shopping centre with bright lights, and lots of mirrors, where I know other girls are going to be dressed up, I do put a lot more makeup on.”
When I see people with really amazing skin I think if I was them I would only wear like a light tinted cream, but because I’ve had problem skin and now have lots of pigmentation I think it makes it obvious. I also notice it on other people a lot more as well.”
“I wish I could not wear makeup in summer because it just sweats off, but I’m too self conscious to do that kind of thing.”
What are my responses, when prompted by my own questions?
How’s that for a healthy relationship with makeup, huh?
One thing I question is where the reliance on makeup stems from. Is it influenced purely by personality and confidence levels? Or is it a never-ending cycle of comparison? Say, for example, you’re walking down the road and see a girl with flawless makeup on. You compare your looks with her and decide you need to improve, so the next day you wear a full face of makeup. A different girl then sees you looking flawless and compares herself against you, continuing the cycle. Is this what we are trapped in? Because the shocked responses from Alicia Keys’ bare face sure make it seem that way. Read Ms Keys’ Lenny Letter for further insight into her make-up free mindset.
I am by no means saying “everyone stop wearing makeup”, just raising awareness. There is a difference between mindless following the crowd and consciously making a decision to act a certain way. If you can recognise you utilise makeup to feel ‘put together’ in the morning, and go on applying then that’s what you should do. That’s what has happened to me. I have moved from mindlessly applying because I feel like it’s a societal rule I have to abide by, to putting on my face every morning because I want to. If you surround yourself with people who are supportive of what you do, how you act and how you carry yourself, you will only ever have to live up to the standard you set yourself.
The evening of CHICK Chat’s inaugural gathering, one of the girls said, “I used to wear makeup around everyone because I wasn’t confident about what I looked like with a bare face. Now I find, I only spend time with people who make me feel confident about myself, so I don’t have the need to wear makeup and to cover up.” So do yourself a favour and find those people who make you confident in yourself.