Written by Danya Damra
Perception is a funny thing. In a digital society, where images speak a thousand times louder than words, pressure on women to feel beautiful is at an all-time high. Working in the beauty industry as a certified makeup artist and self-proclaimed makeup stylist, I constantly talk to women in my makeup chair bare-faced.
When these women, who are incredibly innovative, climb onto my director-style makeup chair, they feel they need to apologize for their appearance — the new mom apologizes for her eye bags, the career woman feels she looks “SO bad” without her signature ruby red lipstick and will refuse any other shade, the social media maven can’t walk out of the house without a full contour and highlight. I’m sure many of us can relate to this feeling that we simply can’t measure up to this narrow standard of beauty that we are bombarded with daily.
“…I often find myself feeling underwhelmed by how women perceive themselves.”
Going from one makeup gig to another, often bare-faced and in leggings and a hoodie when on the job, I can promise you that you don’t have to apologize to anyone for how tired you look, if there is a break out on your face, or if you have no cheekbones and “need” contour. There is nothing wrong with having a preference for makeup and how it is applied — if a red lipstick gives you that extra push to take on the world, then go for it — but please realize that you have much more to offer than just a pretty face, even if you are a hijabi and that may be the only thing that the world sees.
In a shallow field based on looks, I often find myself feeling underwhelmed by how women perceive themselves. Women often tell me what they would like to hide rather than what they would rather accentuate. Instead of focusing on strong points and working to enhance them, we focus on our imperfections.
I can definitely tell you the first things I see when you sit in my makeup chair are NOT your imperfections. I notice that you have a great eye shape for a cut-crease, or how great the shape of your lips are and how I’d love to put a vampy lip color on you, or how chiseled your jaw is. I don’t look for a breakout happening on your face. It doesn’t mean I won’t add coverage to it or even out your skin; it just means you don’t have to apologize for it or point it out.
The most beautiful women I have met are those who are confident despite their [perceived] flaws. They do not always possess conventional beauty or whatever social media deems as beautiful. They are not beautiful because of the color of their eyes or how full their pout is. These are the women who absolutely do not apologize for wearing makeup or how they look without it; these are the women who can either be a stay-at-home mom or run a nationwide campaign for political office, but do not measure themselves by their reflection; who know that no one is paying attention to her flaws because they are in complete awe over her spirit and how well she carries herself. They radiate life and energy that draws people in and inspires them. Think Amal Clooney, a woman who is not “conventionally beautiful” but won over the world’s most wanted bachelor, George Clooney. The world is in love with her and her presence. Think FKA Twigs, Barbra Streisand, Frieda Kahlo — these are women who attract awe and admiration but do not fit conventional beauty.
My point is that you are beautiful. I have never seated a woman in my director’s chair who I didn’t see beauty in. Makeup is just here to enhance that. If you don’t believe it, crack open your Qur’an to Surah Al-Tin (The Fig) and read the fourth verse, where Allah, who is all-perfect, tells you that you are created perfectly. This is not me telling you that you are beautiful. This is not your significant other telling you that you are perfect. Nor is it society or whoever’s opinion you deem important. This is Allah (swt) telling you that you are created in utmost perfection. Believe it. Carry it with you. And inspire everyone in your path.