“But She Looks So Much BETTER Without Makeup!”: A Rant

Pro-tip to dudes who always need to interject that they like non-made-up / “natural” looks on women: nobody cares what you think.

It seems that the HuffPo article on porn stars without makeup has stirred the pot. Practically every dude you secretly hate on your friend’s Facebook page has felt the need to proudly tell you that he prefers women who look “natural” or women who don’t wear makeup. And that’s if you got lucky and didn’t witness him throw in any slut shaming first. You know, “those poor, poor girls. Why do they need all that whorepaint? OH. IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE WHORES, GET IT?”

(Bonus Pro-tip: if this is you, you should try walking barefoot over Legos. I hear it feels great!)

Anyhow. Back to the point. Nobody cares what you prefer. Unless you are a creative director paying a lady to model, you shouldn’t get a say in how she presents herself. Hell, the only guy in my life who gets any consideration whatsoever is my husband, and he loves it when I look like a comic book villain. So stop assuming that a lady is wearing any particular thing for your attention. I wear makeup for me. Because I like pretty colors. Because it’s a form of self-expression.

Here is a truefacts newsflash: it takes a fair bit of makeup to look “natural.” “Natural” and “no-makeup” are two VASTLY different things.  And I’m not saying natural is a bad look. Many of the ladies in the HuffPo article looked great in their before pictures. I like a natural, low-key look now and again. But when you constantly assert that you/ men in general like a “natural” look, it’s not exactly offering an innocent statement of preference, like “I prefer curly hair.” It’s another way of telling women how they should look to please dudes every minute of every day, and goddamn, we get enough of that already, ok? Enough with the constant hammering on this so-called “natural.”

Here’s the thing: there have been historical periods where it was commonplace for men to wear makeup. There are cultures on this Earth at this very moment where men wear makeup. I wonder if people got all worked up about the poor insecure menz needing to wear makeup, gosh golly if they only had self esteem. (Hint: no. No, they did not.)

I’m not trying to say that there isn’t sexist bullshittery that happens in cosmetic marketing. There totally is. Half of makeup marketing is telling women what “flaws” need “correction” and that sucks. But you know what? You’re not being feminist or lady-friendly by telling a woman, unsolicited, what you would prefer her to look like. You don’t get free blowjobs or cookies or exclamations of “why thank you, kind sir! Now that you have given me permission to look ‘natural,’ I feel so much better!” You’re just being a NiceGuy ™, and you should stop.

I’m gonna finish up with a quote from my friend Maggie, who runs Maggie’s Makeup. Because she’s awesome.

“That bullshit cranks my craw. It’s such covert misogyny – women are supposed to conform to an impossible standard of beauty, but do so invisibly. The minute they decide to enjoy beauty rituals for their own pleasure (or to some arbitrary level of excess) they are accused of being vain, shallow, materialistic, fake and quite probably stupid.

“It’s the same mentality that underlies all those ‘people are starving, you should donate your money instead of spending it on makeup!’ comments. Sure, right after you donate all the money you spend on clothes, dinners out, video games and your stamp collection. No? Didn’t think so. So why is it that my hobby, a predominantly feminine one in western cultures, is the one that subject to that kind of judgement? And a vitriolic one, at that.”

TL;DR: If I cared what you, random internet dude, thought of my appearance, I wouldn’t have purple hair. But I do. So keep your sexist bullshit to yourself.

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14 thoughts on ““But She Looks So Much BETTER Without Makeup!”: A Rant

  1. Just to play devil’s advocate here, unless said guy says directly to a woman with a face full of makeup “I really prefer women without makeup,” is it really any different from me saying, in general, “I don’t like guys with mustaches.” I’m not saying that men SHOULDN’T wear mustaches, just that I don’t tend to find them attractive. While I do agree that what men THINK is natural is really pretty made up, and a face with natural “flaws” would probably really mar their fantasies, I don’t know if it’s necessarily sexist to say “I prefer the natural look.” Maybe I just haven’t seen the specific instances of this which spawned the blog post and I would get it if I had.

    • I think it depends on wording and context, but I would consider it pretty rude to go up to a guy (particularly a stranger) and tell him I don’t like guys with mustaches.

      • Right, that’s what I’m saying. I read this as general comments on the article about porn stars w/o makeup and not direct comments to said porn stars or anyone else. I agree it would be rude to give unsolicited comments like that to anyone.

    • The difference is that there’s not a pre-existing cultural narrative about guys with mustaches being stupid and vain, and where every time there’s a photo of a guy with a mustache, people compulsively chime in about how it’s so sad he feels the need to have a mustache, he’d look just fine without it.

      But yes, context matters– most of the instances that spawned this post had a lot of slut shaming going on and strayed well beyond “it’s not my preference” into talking about how fuckable she is with or without, and basically connecting makeup to “looking like a whore.” Your average “I feel entitled to be gross because I’m talking about a woman, don’t they know they should tailor their appearance to what I want?” bullshizz.

  2. Love this! Awesome!!!

    Women are supposed to look “pretty” but not look like they tried too hard, but look like they put at least a little effort into their appearance, but you know, not tooo much effort. Bullshit.

    I love when you said “I wear makeup for me” – perfect. I 100% agree.

  3. What pisses me off about those remarks is the assumption that:

    a) we actually want to hear that sort of advice, because ultimately everything we do is to appeal to men, so obviously we welcome and appreciate any random man’s opinion on the subject of how we look at any minute of the day;

    b) the knowledge that men prefer “natural” would save us time, effort and money that we waste on make-up while trying to look attractive for men. Because there’s could be no other reason on Earth why we would want to use make-up.

    For some reason, the common understanding is that we use make-up to cover our insecurities. While the truth is – we do it to celebrate our beauty 🙂

  4. The other issue that raised my hackles here beyond the whole “natural look” thing is that it’s very righteous of HuffPo to do this kind of story where they show porn stars “stripped down” for all to see. Is it just me, or is it really shameful of them that they show each woman looking vulnerable and exposed in the “natural” photos and putting on their best Pornstar Face in the makeup photos? There’s something very wrong in how they’re served up on a platter for our judgment. As if they’re being lined up before the Court of Public Opinion with one side looking like sad, weak women and the other bearing their best Scarlet Letterface. After spending so many years of my life art directing photoshoots I can tell you, it’s not unintentional.

    And onto the reactions I read in the comments, what gets me is how I’m seeing both a pity party for those who think “oh those poor women…” and also a disgusting amount of chatter about “how do they even get the makeup to stay on when they…you know…do their whoring??” talk. On the first note, it’s a sad way for men to crucify and judge women for adorning themselves and for women to backup their chauvinist counterparts. On the second, there’s a very aggressive approach being taken where the women in the photos are reduced to science experiments and open mockery. It’s just disgusting on both accounts.

    • I actually don’t have an issue with the article itself. The MUA herself took the pictures as part of a personal portfolio thing– the befores, if you watch the video attached, were just quick snapshots, because she didn’t want to take up set time. A lot of the women are smiling broadly in the before pic.I totally didn’t get “vulnerable and exposed” from the vast majority of the before pics. Just “oh hey, I possibly just woke up” every now and again.

      The huge problem I had was, like you said, that because it’s a bunch of pictures of women that many people don’t consider respectable– or hell, let’s just go with it’s just a bunch of pictures of women, even– people decided that open mockery and slut shaming is totally okay.

  5. One of the best parts about living alone and having a long-distance boyfriend is that when I wear makeup, it’s completely and totally for myself. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m not trying to meet anyone. I’m just looking how I want to look. (And most of the time, I actually don’t wear any or much makeup at all!)

  6. On of the things I enjoy most about Androo is that he knows that my interest in makeup has absolutely nothing to do with him or any other dude. Much like his interest in motorcycles has nothing to do with appearing more manly and hot for my benefit, or as compensation for some self-esteem.

    Anyway, I’m glad you posted something about this. 🙂

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