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16 Mar

Can we please stop telling girls they’re ‘so much prettier without makeup’?

In 2019, I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation.

Makeup is well and truly having its moment lately, and just about everyone is trying to get involved. Makeup video artists on YouTube are at an all-time high, Rihanna recently released an absolutely banging line that includes over 40 (!!) shades of foundation, and I can’t even go to the local shop without being overcome with jealousy at another girl’s eyebrows. And you know what? Good. I’m glad it’s having its moment, because people deserve something that has the potential to make themselves feel good, especially in a world where Trump is the President, Johnson is Prime Minister, and gross 50-year-old men are making fun of Great Thunberg on national TV. But do you know what I’m not glad about? Guys – and other girls – telling girls that they’re ‘so much prettier without makeup’, like that’s supposed to make us feel good? Like that’s supposed to boost our confidence? News flash: it doesn’t. It just makes you sound like a jerk.

I’m fairly late to the makeup party, I’ll admit. It was only as early as summer 2016 that I even started wearing lipstick and eyeliner on a daily basis (for reference, I was 19, so pretty late). I still can’t deal with winging my eyeliner when I’m using a liquid, and although I know have a few eyeshadow palettes (most were gifts), I would be lying if I said I knew exactly what a blending brush did, or a ‘stippling brush’ (seriously, wtf?). But I don’t care. I may be an amateur who needs to watch 37 YouTube vids before I feel comfortable enough to attempt a smoky eye, but there’s something so satisfying about getting it right, not to mention it’s so much fun. Only for me to go on a date and a guy says, ‘but you’re so much prettier without makeup, why do you wear it?’ Well I’m not wearing it for you, so I don’t think you get a say in it, soz babe.

Because that’s exactly the point: women do not wear make up for boys. Period. Sure, there are times when we’ll put it on knowing that it’s gonna make a few guys heads turn. But I can pretty much guarantee that we are not spending £50 on an Urban Decay palette to impress you. We just don’t care that much. And it would be a wasted exercise, because how many guys can really say they notice it when a girl over draws her lips to get a pout even Kylie Jenner would be jealous of? Or that are cheeks are ‘shiny’ intentionally, thanks to something called highlighter, and no we’re not just a bit sweaty.

Girls know that they don’t need makeup to look good. Hell, we look banging 24/7 even without makeup, we don’t need to be told this. We wear it for ourselves, and you telling us that we look better without it just makes us question whether we’ve actually put it on properly. It’s not a confidence booster, it’s just damaging. Want to really make us feel good? Tell us are eyebrows are on fleek, or that our eyeshadow really brings out our eyes. Notice the makeup, and compliment it.

The problem is that a lot of people feel superior if they either don’t wear makeup, or if they tell people who do wear it that they don’t need. Like it’s some sort of feminism renaissance or something. But that’s exactly the opposite of what feminism means: men and women alike should be able to wear makeup without the fear of being criticised. In a world that garners so much insecurity in girls of such a young age, we should be encouraging them to feel good about themselves – whether that involves makeup or it doesn’t.

Sometimes, guys do us a favour when they tell us we look better without makeup. It allows us to differentiate betweenthe people we want to give the time of day, and people we want to tell to fuck off. It helps us differentiate between a one-night stand and someone with relationship potential. You wanna hang with me? You better be ready to stand patiently in NYX and Urban Decay, volunteering your arm for swatches. You better not be making sexist ‘jokes’ about how you should take a girl swimming (although really, have you never heard of setting spray?). Basically, you need to understand that makeup is just as much of a valid passion to have as standing around in the rain on a Saturday afternoon watching a bunch of sweaty men kick a ball about is. The only difference? Our passion doesn’t make act like Neanderthals, kicking the shit out of each other cos we support the men in the different coloured shirts. Because that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

Maybe even just as ridiculous as telling girls they’d look prettier without makeup.

Alex Wright

I’m a freelance writer and digital artist working in marketing and social media. I’m an avid animal lover, protector of bees, flexi-vegan (don’t ask) and a self-proclaimed feminist queen. You’ll probably find me standing awkwardly at the bar getting a little too drunk during social events.

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