Send In The Clowns: The Power Of Makeup

I love makeup.

There, I said it. Taking the time to do my makeup—concealer, foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, brows— is a large part of my morning (and self-care) routine. Now, as feminists, we know that makeup should be applied out of choice, rather than obligation to society and/or our significant others–but I love it. I love the ability to transform my face in 30 minutes, and emerge from my bedroom looking as if I have had way more hours of beauty sleep than I actually did. My obsession is often questioned, by feminists and non-feminists alike.  Yet people rarely ask me why I love doing my makeup.

I started to question why other people wore makeup. There were clearly others like me, who loved the preparation to face the day. Obviously there were some who liked the connotations of makeup, making them feel “girly” or “feminine.” But what about those of us who do feel obliged to wear makeup? I found that some of us feel “boring” or “plain” if we don’t wear makeup, as if people won’t acknowledge us. Similarly, there have been times when I feel like I have been silenced by other feminists because I wear makeup, and am seen as “playing into the patriarchy’s view of women” and “hurting my cause.”  This is not true. Regardless of what you enjoy, feminism encourages all people to be as unique as they want, regardless of whether that is stereotypically feminine, masculine, or androgynous.

I decided to create a set of images based on these various reasons why we decide to wear, or not wear, makeup. I did this by photographing head shots of my fellow students, and then printing out their head shots. I then hand painted actual makeup onto the shots, in an over-the-top fashion, using garish bright colours layered on continuously. Some of these are black and white images, representing how makeup can “brighten” their lives. In some color images,  I used foundation to cover up the mouths, therefore “silencing” my subjects.

! could argue that there are more important things for feminists to be worrying about than makeup.  Everyone has their own unique reasons for embracing certain things, like different hairstyles, makeup or clothing, and it is important as feminists to take a small step towards creating a more accepting future for everyone.


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4 thoughts on “Send In The Clowns: The Power Of Makeup”

  1. Love this! I think we both feel pretty much the same about makeup. I’ve had the same experience of fellow feminists criticizing my enjoyment of it though – seems that a lot of people (both feminists and non-feminists) aren’t able to see makeup as anything other than a tool for being sexually appealing to men, when in reality it’s much more than that.

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