Real? Or made up? The influence of makeup…

by Jul 17, 2018Inspiration, Perspective

I was about to do a Facebook Live video recently, ideas bubbling away, then I thought, “Oh, hang on…I can’t do it now, I haven’t got any makeup on!

I was going to wait until I’d had chance to apply at least a bit of eyeliner, mascara and lipstick when I caught myself and gave myself a stern talking to.

There I was, someone who advocates being the Real You not the You the rest of the world is expecting you to be, and yet I felt that I needed to have makeup on before I could do a live video. It was as if I felt what I had to say wouldn’t be as important or hold as much weight if I broadcast fresh(!)faced and makeup free.

Which just goes to show how insidious this issue is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to get all dressed up and do my hair and makeup properly, it’s fun and it makes me feel glamorous and more confident. But generally I don’t wear much makeup, largely because I work from home a lot of the time and, quite frankly, I can’t be bothered. (There is the added fly in the face-cream that my ageing eyesight has deteriorated to the point that I can’t really see what I’m doing without my glasses anymore, which makes putting on eye makeup a bit of a challenge!)

The thing that really struck me about feeling the need to be made-up on screen though was how ingrained this expectation is in our society. It’s simply the accepted norm. Wherever you turn in the media there are perfectly coiffed and made-up women.

The beauty industry is MASSIVE and the number of different “enhancing” treatments is bewildering… I have no idea what half of them are. Microblading? I’m clueless. Sounds like rollerblading but on really tiny skates to me…!

But each to their own. If this is your thing, that’s fine, it’s just not mine.

We’re all free to make our own choices.

In theory.

What worries me is when these choices are over-ridden by social expectation. What worries me even more is the growing number of women and girls who feel that they are somehow lacking unless they conform to these expectations.

Who feel that no-one will listen to them or take them seriously or even like them if they don’t project the right image.

Who feel that they are not enough without these extra layers.

Who feel that who they really are underneath is someone to be ashamed of.

How have we got to the point that this is the message that reaches our daughters and young women? That how you look holds huge influence over the perceived value of what you think, feel and say… your very worth?

When teenage girls are getting up at 5am so they have time to do their hair and makeup before they go to school something is seriously wrong.

And, for that matter, what effect is it having on our sons and young men? Is there a very real danger of them feeling socially pressurised to support only those women who “look” as expected?

It’s no wonder our youngsters are teetering on the edge of a mental health epidemic.

None of this is new. Appearance has always had an influence over how you are perceived, and teenagers have always bent over backwards to fit-in with the In Crowd.

But it feels as if this is becoming a much more damaging issue than it has ever been in the past.

There is a tendency to think that society is some huge creature that has a mind of its own that is unaffected by the actions of the individual. However, each individual is part of that society and as such has a part to play in changing it.

You are not defined by how you look.

You are unique and amazing and valuable.

End of.

I believe that the worth of a person comes from within.

I believe that my worth comes from within.

I’m prepared to demonstrate that.

I did that Facebook Live with no makeup, and saved my original idea for the video for another day. This seemed way more important.

So I have a question for you.

If any of this resonates with you, and you’d like to see things change, what small thing could you do to make people think about it? 

Watch the Facebook live video here and join in the conversation.

P.S. This is an issue that has many facets to it on both sides of the argument… this is my first foray into it… I suspect there may be more…