When I was about 7 years old, I remember going to a tent sale with my father. As I looked around at all the toys, something special caught my eye. It was in a plastic compact case, filled with several colorful squares and a little sponge brush for application. My little hands immediately reached for it, and begged my dad to buy it for me. I was so excited to finally have my own make-up, however my excitement was promptly squashed when I opened up the compact case to realize that it was only play make-up. I was extremely disappointed, but not discouraged. I spent many hours begging my mom for make-up only to receive responses about how unnecessary it would be for me to wear make-up and how I don’t need it to be pretty.
It’s no secret to my friends and family that I am passionate about make-up and beauty products, and I receive a range of positive and negative comments regularly about it. I’ve had people tell me I don’t need make-up, that I use it because I’m insecure about my appearance, and I’ve also had people that are very supportive and encouraging. I am proud to say that besides the occasional off day, I don’t worry about my looks. I don’t need to look perfect to be happy. Between the time I graduated high school and began school here at Ohio University, my passion for beauty and make-up products is for my own personal self expression. I’ve been seen around campus many times rocking rainbow eyeshadow and a ridiculous amount of blush. I could go with a look that simply enhances my natural features, however, sometimes I don’t want to. Sometimes I don’t want to wear any make-up at all, and sometimes I want to wear every single product I own.
Make-up is traditionally viewed as a beauty enhancer for women. It is culturally accepted in our society that women wear make-up to look “more beautiful” and subtly enhance natural features. But as an intersectional feminist and makeup lover, I no longer believe it is for women to look more beautiful. It’s how I express myself, and can be used by people of all genders and sexual orientations for expression. Tomorrow I may wake up and want to rock a bright green lipstick to match my shoes. As a society we should encourage each other to express ourselves as we choose, and not feel pressured to wear mascara simply to conform to beauty ideals. Instead, we can use make-up to empower each other as another outlet for self-expression.
My 3-year-old niece this summer asked me many questions several times a day about makeup after seeing me wear it. She would often, and still does, ask me for lipstick, and when I don’t wear it she asks why. Not wanting to discourage her from choosing to wear it someday by saying something along the lines “because I don’t need it today,” instead I tell her that some days wearing makeup isn’t fun. I want her to know that it’s okay to wear and it’s okay not to wear, it just depends on her personal choice. However we choose to express ourselves, whether it be our clothes, hair, or makeup, can all be wonderful and freeing.
Women’s Center Student Staff