“Why Do Girls Wear So Much Makeup?” Why, Does It Threaten You?

April 22
Why do girls wear so much makeup? 3 responses

Every once in a while, someone will say to me, “You’d look better natural” or “Wow, you’re wearing a lot of makeup today.” In response, I usually bat my pretty eyelashes, fortified with the hard crystalline crust of Revlon’s LashBlast, and smile at them through the velvety smoothness of MAC’s indomitable matte formula. Only after gauging how serious they are do I ask, “Why does it bother you so much?”

“Because you shouldn’t care about that stuff,” some will say. “Because you’re prettier without it.” “Because that’s not the real you.” If they say that last one, I’ll usually smile wider, so the flush of Benefit’s Posietint make the apples of my cheeks glimmer like jewels. “You are seeing the real me,” I’d say. “I’m standing right here. I’m real, aren’t I?”

What they want to say is, “I want to see you without your armor.” And it’s true; I use makeup like I use clothing, to cover myself, protect my soft inner parts, to create a mask through which I see the world. It’s how I cope.

To some people, that sounds like a fabrication. That’s when I’ll tell them that I sometimes do go bare-faced, and when I do, I’m usually mistaken for a sick patient. On those days, others will say, “Oh, you look horrible, you should take some meds.” You can’t blame us for trying to fit into the beautiful lies on the cover of magazines when we are punished for returning to nature. So back into the armor I go.

Here’s how us makeup lovers can respond to various insults on our product usage:

Girls shouldn't care about makeup

“Because you shouldn’t care about that stuff.” Why…not? Why shouldn’t we be interested in body adornment? Warriors and priests from all cultures have been doing it for centuries, but somehow it’s silly because girls are now interested in lip gloss?

I know the stereotypes that they are referencing—the perception that girls who wear tons of makeup are “stupider” and have to rely on their looks to make up (pun intended) for what their brains lack, that makeup somehow indicates a shallow and insipid personality. That’s ridiculous—beauty and intelligence not a mutually exclusive prospect, and I’d argue that it takes a certain level of skill to artfully paint a face.

Let’s not pretend that mascara glues girls’ eyelashes together to the point where they can’t see the blackboard or compute an equation. I know several beauty bloggers with more knowledge of carcinogens and parabens than the general population, who can rattle off the foreign substances that are banned in the EU but not in the US. Makeup fans have to internalize so much specialized knowledge in order to argue about the merits of Lancome Lash Hypnose over Maybelline’s Great Lash, discuss companies that don’t ban “the big 3” in nail polish, and bemoan the racial overtones that permeate our culture’s beauty standards.

When you dismiss an entire culture of women and men whose specialized knowledge spans websites all over the world because “makeup is superficial” and “you shouldn’t care about that stuff”—what you are really saying is “You care deeply about something that I don’t like, so stop doing that. You know too much, and I find that unsettling, because why else would I try to mock it?”

Girs shouldn't wear so much makeup because they're prettier without it

“Because you’re prettier without it.” Men feel cheated when they think that our perfectly trimmed eyebrows and dark eyelids are products of the cosmetic industry—but so what? If our personality is what you are really looking for, then our efforts to improve our beauty shouldn’t really matter, right? And if beauty is what you are looking for, then aren’t we just bringing you what you want? Instead, when people tell me that they don’t like makeup because “I’m prettier without it,” I know that I should never trust them. No one can objectively look at my acne-ridden and red-tinted face and not ask for some foundation and a good brown eyeliner.

What makeup critics are really scared of is the fact that makeup gives us power. I’ve been told by many that I look “scary” in full-face, perhaps as part of their attempt to discourage my use of products. There’s a reason that villains are portrayed as heavy makeup wearers: Ursula in Little Mermaid, Maleficient in Sleeping Beauty. Even Hades’ sunken eyes and lips make him look like he’s rocking some goth lipstick, and don’t tell me that Gaston doesn’t invest in some exfoliator and toner for his mug. We are taught to believe that makeup = evil = something to hide. That’s why, when Youtube gurus showcase their makeup transformations, people comment “it’s not fair that girls can use makeup to lie to guys,” as if women are stupid enough to believe that a flawless complexion will net them a husband (makeup has to come off every night, you know…)

It’s the same reason that passerbys get skittish when girls flounce past looking more like Queen Jane than Plain Jane; for a moment, they are compelled towards a face, attracted by something they can’t control, before they realize that charcoal lids and red lips have never existed naturally. For a second, you undermine their composure, and they try to regain their high ground by denouncing you as a manufactured myth. All the while, you watch them struggle, veiled behind Urban Decay ‘Kitten’-dusted eyelids, a gem they will never get to touch.

If you are a villain, so be it. Embrace the power that it gives you.

Girls shouldn't wear so much makeup "Because that's not the real you"

“Because that’s not the real you.” If they say this to you, get angry. Get very angry. They can see the real you all right—it’s in front of them. The real you is in the kind words you say, the way you treat your friends, the optimism you exhibit for others. The real you is the way you handle distress, forgive your enemies, fall in love and burn with jealousy. Those qualities make up the real you—someone more complicated than a pretty face and choice dabs of contouring powder.

But if the powder is all they see—and if that’s what they choose as the basis of their perceptions of you—show them that the ‘real you’ will not put up with this BS. Some choice comebacks: “I have eyeshadow palettes worth more than you,” or “Now that I’ve seen the real you, I don’t think you deserve to know the real me.”

The real person that you are will continue to exist, with or without makeup. And hopefully, the real you will never be as shallow to judge someone by the way that they look. So give your critics one last good sneer with your perfectly painted pout before you turn away. Then flounce out of there, staring some poor boy down on the way out, leaving him cowering with the impression of a burning goddess wheeling past him in a blaze of light.

After all, you are nothing if not beautiful and powerful—and armor only gilds the outside what you must already possess on the inside.

Images derived from Jezebel.com, Femside.com

  • Wow. Nobody could've said this better than how you just did. I agree that no person has the right to judge another based on what they have (or don't have) on their faces. Unfortunately I know of some guys who claim that they accept their girlfriends just the way they are without makeup, but once the girl does wear makeup they start complaining about it -.- I mean, "the way they are(she is)" didn't change just because she put more colour on her face, right?!

    Anyway, great post! :) You're so sassy! Hahaha. Have a great day!

  • This is honestly one of the most brilliant blog posts I've seen in a while. Your answer to each "concern" is spot on.

    — Alex at

    Cashmere Kangaroo

  • The idea that others are intimidated with our knowledge of makeup, or anything beauty and fashion related really, stood out to me the most. Some people say I'm intimidating. And now I know why. This is how they think: "You care deeply about something that I don't like, so stop doing that. You know too much, and I find that unsettling." Excellently written!

  • I find this attitude a lot on the internet (especially in nasty commenters). It's always a variation on "you're doing this thing I'm not, and I don't like it, so you should stop." It's such a childish and selfish view!

  • Wow, that's pretty sad. And they wonder why our entire paycheck goes to Sephora!

  • Wow, I've never really encountered anything of this sort, safe for my brother, and there I do understand that for him, the transformation might have seemed weird as he was used to my bare face when we were smaller. My boyfriend only comments on my make-up when he thinks I messed up (too heavy/smudged/cakey). Otherwise I usually get "I wish I knew how to apply make-up" or "I wish I had enough patience for this" or "I wish I could get ou of the bed sooner to do this" from girls and no comment at all from guys. =D

  • I really enjoyed this article. I've been having similar thoughts and was thinking of writing on the same topic. When the whole fresh faced selfie was going on I kept thinking about how wearing makeup has kind of obtained a bad reputation lately.
    I don't see why.
    I love my makeup. It makes me feel confident and pretty.
    I mean, if you're in a relationship and you take your makeup off and there's a problem that's probably not ideal (everyone should be loved makeup or not), but you're right when you say that just because you have makeup on doesn't mean you're not a real person. Makeup does NOT make a person fake.
    Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post :)
    Wear It Better

  • That's great to hear. I hope that you were able to introduce them to the wonderful world of experimentation. As for making enough time for the process in the morning…I can't help them with that!

  • Thank you! I have had people comment on my short hair (I had a bob two years ago) but never when I had long hair. I guess there will always be a little thing that people can find to fault you for.

    As for the cat scarf—I'm sorry that you weren't able to enter in time. I hope that I will have more giveaways in the future, especially for readers like you, so stay tuned.

  • Definitely agree—I respect people whether they are bare-faced or wearing makeup, for whatever reason. The only ones that don't get my admiration are the ones who critique other people's decisions.

  • makeup is an expression of self, and everytime somebody wants to express themselves, somebody will try to block that, quite simple. Great piece.SimonaSimona/OFF DUTY GIVEAWAY: fuller, shinier hair with Phylia deM.

  • Well-said. It's almost phrased like a math theorem, one that applies to anything in life.

  • Sigh. I don't typically get those kinds of comments, but in that type of situation, I just know that those types of comments say a lot more about the speaker. "Women are lying to men" with makeup? Sounds like a bitter man who may have been hurt before. "You look prettier without it" is both weird and rude — why do you feel the need to evaluate my appearance?

    I love makeup because I enjoy feeling polished and put together when I start my day — it's really the same with clothes. We wear crisp, ironed blouses and nice shoes to show that we take care of ourselves and we're professional :)


  • That would be interesting, and perhaps many of these comments could be due to the fact that I'm still in undergrad and college is a more "casual" environment. I'll have to see if there's a different attitude when I get into the working world.

  • Great Post! I am actually the person who sees someone in make-up and thinks, "Man, that looks great. Why am I so lazy?" hahaha so there are two sides to everything I guess. Also, maybe I can't tell from the photos, but it never looks like you have much make-up on… either way, you look fantastic!

  • Amber

    This is such an important post. I'm not a girl who wears a lot of make up, but I am a girl who thinks that everyone has the right to wear make up if they are so inclined. I'm sick of girls being criticized for what they wear or what they have on their face.

  • Nita-Bunny Kang

    I love this post!

    I wear make-up for self-expression– bold cat eyes, and punkish red lipstick. I feel more real when I get to put them on. I also don't mind guys in make-up either, if they fancy them.

  • Atul Arora

    very nicely said & informative information you just shared Girls Wear

  • Selina Moses

    Hell yes. I’m tweeting this. You can prise my red lipstick from my cold dead hands but you won’t succeed


    • Ahaha I have to use that! I’ll be wearing red lipstick when they lower me into my coffin 😛

  • Yuyu

    This is the stupidest post I’ve ever read. So many contradictions. Harvard Law is a scam.

    • Feeling threatened? Would you like to elaborate? I can clarify anything that may have confused you, such as how one writer’s opinion on a topic instantly negates the reputation and educational prowess of a 200-year old (and one of the most-revered) institutions on the planet.