Makeup and Feminism – can they coexist?

One of my Christmas makeup looks.
One of my Christmas makeup looks.

“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.” – Coco Chanel

I, as a recovering addict, am trying to reinvent myself. Originally I went to college to become a teacher. Elementary school, with a focus on English and writing. After a year at University of Maryland College Park, I dropped out. I took a years worth of classes at a community college and then the drug era started (my drug era that is). Addiction and multiple arrests for theft, assault, and possession of a controlled substance (not marijuana) followed. Due to these arrests, I can never become a teacher.

I have decided to follow one of the great passions of my life – makeup. I want to be a makeup artist. I love everything about makeup. I spend thousands of dollars a year on new makeup. I watch YouTube video, read beauty blogs and Kevyn Aucoin books. My poor eight year old daughter is my guinea pig.t I love the transforming properties of the art of makeup.

i grew up with a mother that did her makeup, as soon as she got up (after coffee that is). I mean I never even really saw her without makeup on. She always said that a woman never goes out looking a mess.  I took this lesson to heart. Even when I was in active addiction, and sick as a dog, throwing up all over the place, I at least put on foundation, blush, and mascara before we drove in town to cop. I mean I may have been ill, but I had to at least look at little bit presentable.

During the one year that I studied at University of Maryland, I took a Women in the Arts class. Pretty much a feminism class. I always was some what into feminism due to Courtney Love and PJ Harvey. This class, however got me into Betty Freiden, and “The Vagina Monologues”, and Elizabeth Wurtzle, and even Candice Bushnell. I adored the Gorilla Gurls. I understood the feminist statements made by Lil Kim and Missy Elliot. I read a great book written by a Rolling Stone writer, Gerri Hirshey called “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” which was a book about “the true, tough story about women in rock”. Courtney Love became my hero (in all fairness, Courtney Love still is my hero).

I still consider myself a feminist. I am also a civil rights activist, but that is a topic for another day, another post. So here in lies my dilemma, is being a makeup artist, making women look pretty, perpetuating stereotypes that women need to be beautiful? “When I wake up/ In my makeup/ I’m glad I came here/ With your pound of flesh” – Hole, “Celebrity Skin”.

I will admit it, I like to look pretty. I am a little embarrassed that as such a strong feminist I still feel the need to be pretty, but it’s true. But makeup is so much more than that. I love playing with colors. I love try different eye looks. I love copying looks from Kevyn Aucoin’s books. I love making my daughter look like a Monster High character.

For me doing makeup, be it my own or someone else’s is an escape, an art form. I can’t draw. I can’t paint. The arts I always did, was dancing, playing guitar, singing, poetry. This is my form of painting. I love transforming myself (or someone else) into Harlow, Monroe, or Cher.

I love high quality makeup. I love how high end makeup brands like Nars, Make Up Forever, lorac, MAC, and Smashbox have themes and all the makeup for that season follows the theme. Nars did Warhol and Guy Bordin, MAC has done Barbie, Hello Kitty, and Wonder Woman to name a few. They become collectible pieces of art. Wearable art. It is awesome.

In short, I don’t really think that makeup is a defector of the women’s movement. I put on makeup when I am home with the kids and my husband is at work. I do it for me. I do it because I love it. I get myself put together, because I feel good about myself. Doing something to care about me, helps my depressive personality. It is me time. My husband would love me the same with or without eyeliner on. I hold my head a little higher with it on though. I don’t think that my self worth is tied to it though. I don’t wear this look or that look to be as society thinks that I should be or wants me to be I wear different looks because that is me. I am a woman who loves makeup. I am a lipstick wearing feminist, and isn’t just as bad to say that a real feminist doesn’t do her hair and makeup as it is to say that a real woman does?

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