Can’t “makeup” your mind?

By: Ashley Williams

From the catwalks of Fashion Week to the halls of high schools, the #nomakeup trend has taken society by storm.

For decades, women leaving home without makeup have been associated with disorganization; maybe we’ve overslept, or are enduring some sort of life crisis. However, going out with a face full of carefully applied cosmetics isn’t the right path either; now we’re trying too hard to change the way we look. Suddenly we’re “fake” and maybe in need of a little self-confidence pep talk.

These days the bare face, or at least products designed to give an upgraded version of the natural look, are all the rage with celebrities and supermodels alike. But is this new trend really empowering for women today? Social media telling women that looking natural is suddenly more important than smoky eyes, flawless skin, and red lipstick isn’t power; power comes when each woman decides how to portray her own body.

Feminism is inevitably tied to the natural look. There’s an expectation that women who view themselves as equal to men can’t possibly indulge in makeup because they would be telling the world that they aren’t comfortable with themselves. We’re “lying” to the people with whom we come in contact on a day-to-day basis. How can we expect to be equal to men if they can’t even show our true faces? The truth is that feminism isn’t about going makeup free for equality because men don’t wear makeup. In fact, makeup, or a lack thereof, really doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not someone believes in gender equality. If the makeup controversy has anything to do with feminism at all, it’s about the freedom for each woman to make a personal choice about her appearance.

It’s nearly impossible to log onto a website geared toward millennial women without coming countless pieces with titles such as “Do Guys Prefer the Natural Look?” and “How Your Man Really Feels About Your Makeup.” Writers generally focus more on articles about makeup’s impact on guys than on professionalism or feminism. Many of the males interviewed in those articles replied that they preferred the natural look, while others mentioned fun lip colors or a smoky eye as their top picks. The sheer number of these types of columns shows how much female readers worry about the opinion of the men in their lives. While there’s nothing wrong with dressing up and trying to impress people, the feelings of a significant other should not be the main focus of a woman when she’s deciding how much makeup to wear.

Although the no makeup movement may seem at first glance to be a positive trend, women should remember that they are capable of more courage and bravery than just that required to go without makeup at an event or on social media. How each woman chooses to portray herself should be a personal choice that’s free from the influence of celebrities, social media, or friends. Wearing a full face of makeup doesn’t make women fake, and going without any makeup at all doesn’t make us vulnerable.