You have probably seen the media banging on about the ‘feud’ between Helen Mirren and Charlotte Tilbury regarding make up and ‘to wear or not to wear’ – because, you know, two women can’t disagree without it being a feud, right? *look to camera*
If you haven’t seen this news story, the basic premise is that Helen Mirren has recently posed ‘make up free’ (note the GIGANTIC bunny-rabbit-ears around that phrase) for the Pirelli calendar and had a lot of wonderfully positive press coverage about it. She then did an interview where she said “I think it would be wonderful if [going without make up] became a fashion.” This has been very widely misconstrued and misquoted to make out that she’s saying we should all go make up free all of the time, when actually she clarified within the same interview saying: “I love make-up, dressing up, so I don’t want to be ‘Oh we’ve all got to go without make-up’.”
Charlotte Tilbury, in response to that interview, said “I totally disagree with Helen. She’s absolutely wrong — completely wrong. Why would anyone, in a world where everyone is judged by their looks, not wear make-up? Make-up is very empowering and women should celebrate this weapon in their arsenal. Women need to wear make-up to get ahead in life — in their careers, in the personal lives, whatever it is.”
Firstly, any time that ‘need’ comes into these conversations it gets my back up. Nobody HAS to wear make up, just like I would be very upset if someone told me I HAD to go make up free. Secondly, I think the word ’empowering’ has now lost all meaning. It’s a buzzword that is thrown around for effect. Thirdly, Charlotte Tilbury’s whole career is based on people wanting to wear make up, so her opinion on this is not at all shocking. In the same interview she refers to studies that found that women who wear make up are considered more competent, likeable and trustworthy in the work place and are, as a result, more likely to be promoted. As a side note, I would be very interested to see similar studies on beards/stubble/clean-shaven or long-hair/cropped hair on men… If anyone knows of any, please link me up in the comments!
The fact is everybody is different and has different comfort levels and I really cannot stand the way women are pitted against each other with regards to how they look. There is enough pressure on women every day with the way we act, talk, the jobs we do (or don’t do), and how we portray ourselves, without people adding another thing for us to disagree about.
From a personal point of view, there are many things in this life that I cannot change or control, so if I want to wear make up to control the way I look which ultimately changes the way I *feel* about myself then I fail to see how that is a bad thing. I know that many people will say that I’m brainwashed by societal norms to think that I look bad without make up but that’s something that has been constructed over centuries and will probably take just as long to undo. The fact is, due to my rosacea, I wake up and look in the mirror and see a face I don’t recognise. And it makes me upset. I don’t like the way that I look and it affects my confidence so much that it has had an impact on my job. Obviously as a beauty blogger I feel pressure to look a certain way and inspire people with the way that I look (afterall you wouldn’t get your hair cut by someone with a Pat-Sharp-mullet!) but even in my previous, non-beauty-related jobs it had an impact. I had colleagues draw attention to, or make fun of, my skin. I had senior colleagues imply that I was incompetent or unprepared because I looked ‘flustered’ due to my red face. I avoided speaking up in meetings, leading discussions, presenting my work, or talking to colleagues I didn’t know. That was a very real impact caused by the way I look and feel about myself.
People are very quick to assume that those who depend on make up are vain or shallow. There’s a prevalent assumption that women who spend time applying or thinking about make up are less intelligent (this also appears in the backlash that many beauty bloggers experience when they talk about politics, feminism etc. but that’s a wholllllllle other blog post!)
I see comments and discussion from women who appear to think that they are better than others because they don’t wear make up: ‘I’m too busy working/raising my children/sleeping to waste my time on make up’. To me, it comes across as an extension of the ‘cool girl’ persona that cropped up in the 90s as a direct backlash to the 80s Glamazon aesthetic. The contrast of the Kate Moss-CK-One-messy-hair-no-make-up look vs. the Cindy Crawford big-hair-red-lipstick-shoulder-pads look.
‘I’m so low-maintenance, I don’t care how I look, I’m just one of the guys, I’m *cool*.’ Can you hear me eye-rolling?
To be clear, I don’t care if people don’t wear make up. If you just don’t like wearing it, or don’t know how to apply it, or simply don’t have the time or money… that’s absolutely fine with me. It’s the people who look down on others for their choices who stick in my craw. The only thing that should matter in this conversation are these two questions:
- Is it your face? If yes – do what you want with it. If no – mind your business.
- Is the person’s choice affecting you? If yes – tell the person on the tube that their foot-long fake eyelashes are tickling your face. If no – mind. your. business.
Do you love make up? Hate make up? I could talk about this topic for hours, so let’s start a ‘to wear or not to wear’ discussion below.