Why do women wear so much makeup?

Dear Woman, 

Why do women think they have to wear so much make-up? My current girl (woman) friend wears a ton of it. She looks like a different person when she steps out of the shower and it takes her forever to get ready. It doesn’t look bad but she looks better without it and I’ve told her so. So I guess to reiterate, is there a reason that women wear so much make-up, and how can I tactfully tell her she doesn’t have to do it for me? 


Not Into Fake

Dear Fake, 

I’m going to get in a lot of trouble for telling you this but it’s time someone was honest. Most women need to wear a lot of makeup. Spackle, Plaster of Paris or makeup. Whatever it takes to conceal the small, fuzzy horns that begin sprouting from our foreheads during puberty. You think aqua eyeshadow and fuschia lipstick is distracting from our natural beauty? Imagine how distracted you would be by our third eye or the small, metallic, crescent shaped moons that most of us have on our cheeks when the tides are high. 

Not buying it? Good. I’m not sure my community is quite ready to be outed anyway. Here are some other reasons why your girlfriend might wear a lot of makeup: 

  1. It’s fun – Have you ever tried makeup? It’s super fun. You can make yourself look hard or soft, sultry or intimidating. It can make you look like you stepped out of another era or channel a totally different person or area of the gender spectrum. Much like clothing, you can apply it based on your mood and it tends to have a sort of placebo effect on how you feel, which affects how others act around you. Your girlfriend might use makeup as a form of creativity and expression. In this case she’s probably doing it more for herself than for other people which is healthy and fun, provided that she also loves what is underneath and nurtures that version of herself too. I’ve heard men complain that wearing heavy makeup is false advertising, but if you see a woman with glittery chartreuse eyelids and lips the color of dragonfruit and think that’s natural, that’s kind of on you. 
  2. She feels like she needs to wear make-up in order to be respected, especially in her professional life: I’m not in the corporate world but while researching this article I found many examples of people saying they are treated with more respect at work when they wear makeup versus when they do not. The examples stated that a person who looks like they put effort into their appearance is generally considered more trustworthy and competent than those who don’t. To me this is a shitty double standard. It also gives off the impression that on the other side of a full face of makeup is a woman who stumbles into work with chia seeds dotting her teeth, picking bread crumbs from the front of her snuggie, and removing small twigs from her hair. A woman can look perfectly “put together” with a bare face. I think it’s a sexist way of taking our attention away from what really matters–our ideas, our competence and our intelligence–and putting just another step between us and our goals. It’s a hard balance for trans women too, personally and in professional environments. They are accused of either trying too hard or not trying hard enough and because “passing” is sometimes imperative to their safety, the efforts they take on their appearance holds important significance. 
  3. She is immersed in selfie/Instagram culture: This is just a theory I have, so bear with me. Because I’m a woman (and for literally no other reason) I get suggested videos of women contouring and making up their faces on Instagram.  I usually breeze on by them but occasionally I’ll watch them in the way I once watched Alien Autopsy, with curiosity, trepidation, and a bit of confusion. The amount of makeup these women put on their faces is strange to me, it seems very uncomfortable, and though it does look beautiful from an artistic standpoint, I don’t totally understand it. Then it dawned on me. That sort of makeup looks incredible in photos and video! If posting selfies on Instagram is a big part of your life, and you’re mirroring and comparing yourself to others inside that circle, then a major part of your reality is, well, not based in reality. If this sounds like your woman friend, then she’s living in a different world than the rest of us and her standards of beauty are different. She literally may have a hard time telling the difference between what looks good in photos and what looks good in reality. 
  4. She thinks she needs it and is insecure without it: I want every person to have a choice, that’s what feminism is about. It’s not about slut shaming, stereotyping or forcing women to behave in a certain way because it aligns with your preferences. However, if a woman genuinely thinks she is unattractive without makeup on and puts that much importance on beauty then that sucks, for her. Maybe she’s striving for unrealistic standards of beauty or is afraid of aging and being seen as undesirable or insignificant. Whatever the case, she’s probably so heavily influenced by patriarchal standards that the choice of being herself has been taken away from her and it will take a lot of work and self-care to reverse those ideas. 


No matter what her reason is, I do think it’s great that you think she’s beautiful in her natural state and you should tell her so. Don’t try to change her or shame her for her makeup routine. Telling her you find her beautiful au natural, is a good start, especially if it’s said with love and without an ulterior motive. 

She might also be doing it to please you because she thinks that’s what you find attractive. If that’s the case, you might want to look at yourself and see if anything you are doing is making her think that’s what you desire. Maybe it’s time you replaced that 1999 cardboard cut out of Carmen Electra with a wax figure of Helen Mirren. 


A Woman

Gifts you should NEVER give a woman-2