Behind the stained lips

Previously printed in the 2020 March issue

%22Applying+makeup+can+be+seen+as+a+form+of+self-care%2C+it+allows+for+some+personal+time.+But+everyone+uses+makeup+for+their+own+reasons.%22

Dani Koang

“Applying makeup can be seen as a form of self-care, it allows for some personal time. But everyone uses makeup for their own reasons.”

Dani Koang, Staff Writer

“You look prettier without makeup.”

“I look beautiful either way, thank you.”

It is a daily occurrence for many women, young and old. The backhanded compliment, the unwanted opinion. It is sad, really, when the world thinks they have a say in our appearance. I think a simple “you look nice” would suffice. Whether you would like to believe it or not, it is not a compliment to tell someone they look “prettier” one way or another. And what sucks most is that it can come from anyone – even the ones we love the most. 

One day, as I was finishing up my makeup, my dad stood in the doorframe of my bedroom and asked me why I wear makeup. 

“Why do any women wear makeup at all? It doesn’t make sense to me why someone would want to paint layers over their skin to feel beautiful,” he said to me. I proceeded to answer his question with this simple statement: “Because I want to.” 

Because we want to.

“But you look pretty without makeup,” he said, “You don’t need it.”

I then went on to explain that not all women wear makeup to make themselves feel prettier. It may play somewhat of a role in the matter, but makeup is not only used to hide insecurities and heighten societal standards of appearance. For many, it is a form of self-expression. It boosts our self-esteem  and adds a few details to glamorize the daily routine. According to a GLOSSYBOX survey from her.ie, “Seventy-five percent of women said that they wear makeup every day. While 18 percent used it as ‘a tool to express their personalities’ and 11 percent confessed it was to attract a partner, 74 percent of respondents revealed that they used makeup to feel more confident about themselves.”

We use makeup as a tool to tell stories. To bring the creatures of our imaginations to life. For others, wearing makeup makes them feel and appear more professional in the workplace. Applying makeup can be seen as a form of self-care, it allows for some personal time. But everyone uses makeup for their own reasons. Personally, I enjoy the glitz and glamor of sparkly eyeshadows and false lashes. For many women, including myself, it makes us feel more confident. However, that does not mean that I need makeup to feel beautiful in my own skin, I just find joy switching up the everyday routine with different looks. I can show the world different versions of myself. I like to create images through makeup. It is fun to think of the face as a 3-dimensional canvas where I can practice my art.

It would be a lie to say that there are not women and men alike out there who use makeup to hide insecurities. But it would also be wrong to generalize the entire beauty community by saying that it is our goal. Anything, arguably, could be used as a method to stigmatize the standards of beauty. For a long time, it was seen as unfit for women to be without a corset under her clothing in order to appear thinner. And a poor man with drab clothing would be seen as inferior to the rich. Makeup, for ages, was used by men and women alike, to show one’s class, status and cultural symbolism. 

Appearances matter. They always have. But in the end, it boils down to the individual. I do not wear makeup to please anyone but myself; it is merely part of an illustration of the story of my life. It makes me feel beautiful and allows me to be creative. However, my story may differ from that of everyone else. But these are words to be taken into consideration. Before you ask someone why they wear makeup, ask yourself this: why does it matter? Because behind every stained lip, there is a story. And whether they choose to tell you is their decision. We do not need your validation or backward compliments.