I know selfie culture gets a lot of flak. If you are one of those people who take selfies next to beached dolphins or on the edge of cliffs, you might need to rethink your priorities. Please rethink your priorities. Despite the legions of 14 year-old girls who are trying their best to master the duck face, for most of us who do not look like models, posting a selfie on social media is an act of bravery. A reminder to everyone that this is what real people look like. On bad hair days and bloated days and 2 hours of sleep days. And I feel even more brave if I post a naked selfie, that is with no makeup.
Not wearing makeup-especially for a white woman in the South- is practically an act of defiance, and posting evidence of this decision makes it clear that it wasn’t because you woke up with a migraine or you left your Red Diva lipstick in the bathroom at Target, but because you actually look like this. On purpose.
Let’s not pretend that makeup is anything more than a marketing scheme that sells you on the idea that painting your face makes you more attractive to the opposite sex. Makeup is designed not just to make you look younger and blemish-free, but to mimic what you look like when aroused– eye makeup to make your eyes look bigger, blush to make you look flushed, lip stick to accentuate your mouth.
What is even worse is that this is somehow translated into a “professional look.” Which profession are we talking about here exactly? And it’s not just Women’s magazines (God, I hate Women’s magazines). Business Insider advises that “makeup helps you look more polished and professional.” It even goes so far as to recommend brands as well as brush techniques.
Mint.com reports that the average woman (do they mean the average American woman?) spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime. They also note that she spends 20 minutes a day applying makeup. I assume it still counts if you do this in your car at stoplights. (Do not judge if you are not a commuter.) Women spend close to $2000 in their lifetime on lipstick alone. What suckers!
I am such a sucker. I carry makeup with me at all times. About $120 worth of the good stuff-certified as not tested on animals, so if I lose my purse I won’t be crying about the cash in my wallet but about the Urban Decay Roach eyeshadow which I have 3 of in case they ever stop making it. I haven’t been wearing it every day, though. If I had a new job or some kind of important interview or was trying to impress a date, I’d put some on. I am a minimalist when it comes to makeup, but I’m also a Florida girl and you need some serious foundation to cover up 45 years’ worth of sun damage. The fact that I mostly don’t bother tells you what about me exactly? That I’m a feminist, a rebel? That I’m a slob, a frump? That I really am 45 years old?
The truth is, I look better with makeup on. So do you. I don’t care who you are. You do. And we all want to look better and feel better about ourselves. There have been days when Extend a Lash mascara was the only thing that gave me enough confidence to face an entire incoming class of first year college students. You might argue that we should all strive to look our best and that doing so makes us feel more confident and more productive. But who decided women at their best means looking like we’re 19 and about to jump Hugh Jackman?
I suppose it is not a coincidence that the men I have dated don’t really care for makeup. I’m really somewhat perplexed by men who like it and the women who love them. If you can’t let your man see you until you spend 20 minutes primping in the bathroom, how are things going to go the first time you have the stomach flu? You need to prepare men for this kind of eventuality. Even if it isn’t pretty. I have however, had a boss who called in a consultant to remind us that putting on makeup in the car on the way to work was not enough, and that we needed to touch it up during the day. Then there was a Mary Kay party.
I’d like to not wear makeup without it being this grand political anti-capitalist statement. Except on days when I want to make a grand political anti-capitalist statement. I’d like to not wear makeup just because I am feeling ok about myself today, and I just don’t feel like it, and maybe I will feel differently about it tomorrow, and I will want to pout with plum perfection. Today was not a plum perfection kind of day, though, and I took this selfie. This is what I look like today. Yes, that’s really me. I don’t look like a model, and I assure you Hugh Jackman is not in the next room. My goal in this moment is not to be beautiful, it’s just to be me. And it’s ok if you see me like this.