I started wearing makeup in the sixth grade, and because it has been a part of my life for so long, I have always considered makeup to be body positive. A huge part of this, I believe, is because I didn't grow up with one of those moms who didn't want her daughter to wear foundation or lip gloss. When I decided I wanted to wear something, my mom normally bought it for me and showed me how to put it on.
I have seen my mom without makeup only a handful of times. Unlike me, she is not an artist of any kind. But I always considered makeup to be my mom's creative outlet nonetheless. To this day, she experiments with bold lipsticks and colored liners, and she's been offered jobs at makeup counters based on her amateur skills alone. Because of her, I grew to appreciate makeup as something that could be done for myself, simply because I liked it.
As I became more heavily involved with body positivity and feminism, I realized that not everyone shared my outlook on makeup. Just yesterday, I saw a satirical video that referred makeup as a "costly, time-sucking practice that oppresses women." But much like I don't think that I need to be naked to be body positive, I don't think I need to be bare-faced to be a body positive feminist either.
Some weeks, I wear makeup every day. Some weeks, I don't wear it at all. My application really has more to do with time and how I am feeling that day than it does with who I am seeing or what I am doing. No matter what, though, makeup is something that I enjoy. Like my mom, I consider it one of my art forms. I like trying out new lipsticks or layering on liquid eyeliners. I don't care if my makeup isn't perfect or if I accidentally get lipstick on my teeth every single time I apply it. Perhaps this is because I know that my beauty is not dependent on whether or not I have blush on.
If there are ways to actively make my face look smaller and less fat through makeup, I don't know them. My makeup routine and the five minutes it takes to do have remained essentially the same since I was a size 8 in high school to being a size 22 more than 10 years later. And while I can look back at photos and see that my face was smaller then, I don't see myself as more beautiful than I am now. The shape of my face is simply different, and that's OK. "Different" doesn't mean better or worse. And to me, body positivity is about loving your body (face included) as it is currently, rather than valuing a body you had in the past.
Body positive fashion and beauty are about choice. Restrictions of any kind that tell people what they cannot wear or do rather than what they can wear or do are just not body positive. So when I post a selfie without makeup, it is no more or less body positive than when I post one with a full face. My beauty and self worth have nothing to do with whether or not I put glitter on my lids or whether you can see my acne that day.
I think a lot of the hate towards makeup comes from the assumption that a woman only wears it to please men, as evidenced by BuzzFeed's "Can It Be Feminist To Wear Makeup?" video. As Bustle writer Caro Chauvet wrote of the video, "Being feminist means ultimately asking the why behind actions that could be perceived as ways women objectify themselves and submit to patriarchal culture. Judging a woman for wearing makeup because it makes her feel good is just as [bad as] criticizing her habit of putting on makeup solely based on her lack of self-esteem or desire to please men."
When I hear the "wearing makeup for men" argument, I think about all of the anti-women memes that suggest taking a woman swimming on the first date to see how her face survives, or the men who constantly tell gals that they are more attractive or better in some way without makeup. When you consider the amount of sh*t that women get both for wearing and not wearing makeup, I cannot help but wonder how anyone could think that the decision could have anything to do with the opinions of others. Opinions that seem to vilify us either way.
In my past relationships, I have had partners who have tried to tell me that I am prettier without makeup on, or that they don't like women who wear lipstick. In fact, the majority of my partners expressed that they preferred me without makeup. In the past, I used to think that was a compliment. But now I see it as another means of control and body policing. If I want to wear makeup, I am going to wear it. Ultimately, it's my body, so it's my choice. And it's choice that is at the root of my brand of body positive feminism.
Images: Alysse Dalessandro