Alicia Key recently announced she has stopped wearing makeup and she was quoted explaining her choice; “Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn’t put on makeup. What if someone wanted a picture? What if they posted it? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me.”
For most females and even some males, makeup is integral to their everyday life. I have a lot of females in my life. In the past four years their increased dependency on makeup has become indulgent to the extent that many of them have turned their talents to makeup as a career. Their choice to both wear and pursue makeup is actually understandable, you only have to take a superficial glance at any of your chosen social media platforms and you will be bombarded with an avalanche of aspiring or established Makeup Artists (MUA), Beauty Bloggers and “public figures”.
My daily social media investigations (awe filled ogling) reveals a generation of women who are obsessed with contouring, highlighting, baking and over lining their lips – while uploading these endeavors onto social media in the hope of becoming the next self-taught Huda Beauty. However, the mania of this new section within the beauty industry has created is fandom and superstar status given to makeup artists turned product developers, is a little lost on me.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic that makeup can now be a career which not only compares to “serious professions” but is able to surpass them. Huda Kattan is a shining example of this mega success especially for the Muslim Diasporas around the world. Many young girls have followed her footsteps branding themselves “public figures” and even have their very own “products”; which is basically repackaged eyelashes, made in China, for sale on their Instagram page. Huda Kattan’s mega success has given them something to aspire to which is not entirely a bad thing. My apprehension is in the dependency and insecurity this could be creating for women.
Dame Helen Mirren sparked controversy when she encouraged women to stop wearing make up and embrace the natural look. “I think it would be wonderful if it became a fashion,” Mirren said. She went on to clarify, “Things are always cyclical, so I suspect we might’ve reached saturation with the whole selfie thing and maybe we’re moving in another direction.”
When people come full circle, as Dame Helen suggests, and realize contouring is not life then what happens? Will we all wake up in a year or two and think, what was I thinking contouring my face like that? And if we do “wake up” most of us will just pretend it never happened and move on with our lives. What will the girls who’s only talent was to highlight and contour do? I know I’m being dramatic. More reasonable opinions have come from Alicia Keys who clarified that her choice to not wear makeup is not a judgement on those who do. She said, “It’s great to not wear makeup but it’s great to wear makeup too, if it makes you happy. If you like how you look with a full face, contour and some serious lashes, you do that, and slay. But if you like yourself bare-faced, go forth and slay like that too. You do you.”
Her opinion is potentially the best way to look at makeup. It’s about choice.
“…You do you.”
Unsurprisingly the MUA and product developers at the forefront of benefiting from the beauty industry, disagree vehemently. Famous makeup artist turned brand owner- Charlotte Tilbury talking about Dame Helen Mirren, said in an interview, “I totally disagree with Helen. She’s absolutely wrong — completely wrong,’ she was of the view “Why would anyone, in a world where everyone is judged by their looks, not wear make-up? I’m not saying do a full-on glamour look all the time. It can be very sophisticated and chic at the same time as being natural, like the Jennifer Aniston look.”
I think Charlotte Tilbury’s opinions are very one dimensional and judgmental. Instead of stopping to question why we live in a world that judges a women’s looks constantly, she blindly defends and caters to this judgement. We cannot be reinforcing ideas such as this to young girls, helping them believe that their natural beauty is not good enough and they will be “judged” for daring to bare their face.
I couldn’t agree with Dame Helen sentiments more. Makeup is a powerful tool which often enhances natural beauty, provides glamour or fantasy, but can’t be a permanent substitute for our actual face.
Social media sets the standards of beauty, life and lifestyle so high and wide that the masses can never meet it; creating trolling on social media. When envy, insecurity and dejection has nowhere to go it makes its way to the keyboard; attacking, offending and criticizing the object of its desire and jealousy.
We are all feeding the makeup and beauty industry’s consumerist agendas but at what expense? It’s a well-known fact that insecurities, depression, and anxiety are a direct result of social media use. Daily consumption of media depicting the beautiful faces and lives of others leaves us feeling empty and inadequate. I believe this MUA and Beauty Blogger bubble will eventually pop, like most in vogue phases. I hope that it doesn’t leave behind a plethora of disillusioned women. It’s reassuring that we have voices of reason in the form of Dame Helen Mirren and Alicia Keys offering women an alternative way to view makeup and the world.
Alicia Keys puts it perfectly, “I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”