Now, I strive everyday to be an instersectional feminist, and I will work my hardest to make sure other women have a right to choose what they want to do with their bodies, feel how they want to feel about their bodies, and say what they feel that they need to say. However, I have a confession that brings up an important debate within the feminist community: I LOVE makeup.
As a young, college student, I am often told that I’m too pretty to need makeup, I shouldn’t worry about superficial things, and that I am attempting to act older than I really am. All of these statements are based solely on the speaker’s assumption of makeup, and it does not take into account the thoughts and feeling of the person who is wearing it: me.
I wear makeup for a few reasons, and as I go into depth, I hope that you understand that any choice made does not go without nuance.
- I was the awkward girl in school. I was that nerdy black girl, the one who could ace Algebra in a second and spent hours going through Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. My hair was long and relaxed, leaving me up to envy from other girls, which I mistook for hatred. My eyes were framed by glasses, and my teeth adorned with ugly metal braces and rubber bands that always left me uncomfortable. I was going through (and still going through) that awkward looking and feeling stage of my life. I went through a time where I had to navigate classwork, making friends and keeping them, and feeling good about myself. I felt too skinny, and then later on and now, too fat. I thought maybe it might be best if I didn’t speak up, and now I wish I had the confidence to speak up more. I never felt like there was a designated spot for me. The “weird” table didn’t have anyone like me at all, the group amongst my regular peers always made me feel far from normal, and being in the “popular” kids’ group always made me feel that I was superficial and overrated. Middle school and high school were definite times when people felt they had access to my thoughts and my views as if they were their own, and I often found myself having to defend myself from foolishness. Finding makeup was a blessing. It allowed me to be what I wanted to be, to feel the confidence I needed to push myself to getting thousands of dollars in scholarships and multiple acceptances. Makeup certainly wasn’t everything, but it did feel nice.
- Makeup is actually something we need to navigate some spaces in our society. What I mean by that is, while makeup isn’t needed to live a decent life, at a place like Duke, makeup is what makes you. It’s what “puts you together.” It’s ridiculous, but being feminist and navigating a place are not the same thing. What people don’t understand is that Duke and other elite schools are like a game. You don’t have to like that game, but many people take the extra handicap that is in those games. I choose to, but I do hope to one day be able to choose not to. But as a black woman in our society, I don’t get to make these rules. They aren’t something that I as an individual has the power too. If I had it my way, I honestly wouldn’t give a damn if you wanted to walk around in pajamas and slippers all day. But I am not the one who makes the rules, and while I am working to change these idiotic rules, in order to function in a place like Duke, I have to play at least some of the rules to still be included. It’s twisted, but it works.
- I love the creativity involved. Makeup is fun. There are brushes, blenders, foundations, shadows, pigments, lip colors, and more. It’s like your face is a canvas. Getting into makeup for me was originally solely for looking decent for a pageant, but I quickly realized how I could use makeup as an accessory. The ability to constantly change my face, enhance the features that I loved, wear the colors that I want to for the day, and end the end, be able to wash it off. My ability to diversify allows me to mix and match, and create a new version of myself everyday. It’s like a chance to reinvent yourself. And it’s time for solely you, which gives you time to relax and not have to think about everything else that is going on.
I wear makeup independently of whether a person I’m interested in likes it or not. They may be feeling it, and the next day I may come back with a bare face, no mascara or anything. Makeup for me is something I do for myself, and only when I feel like I want to engage in it. My face can be beat to the gods one moment, and then completely real, and I am perfectly fine. My choice to wear makeup is not about impressing people I want to date, and it isn’t about needing it to function. It’s about me feelin good about myself, and finding outlets that will easily let me feel good about myself.