If you’re past your teen years and identify as a woman, there’s a good chance you’ve had at least one moment of questioning whether wearing makeup is superficial, vain or even anti-feminist. The seed that planted in your mind probably led you to 1 of 3 possible results…
1. Choosing not to wear makeup.
2. Wearing makeup but feeling some shame about it.
3. Or mentally saying “screw you, world” and wearing makeup with pride (even wearing more than necessary just to really show ’em you mean business).
Perhaps you’ve cycled through all 3.
I’ve been there and —having grown up with skin so pale that wearing no makeup caused friends and acquaintances to ask if I was feeling ok— spent a ridiculous amount of time mulling over the problem. Below I’d like to share with you the summary of my 20 years of findings. Don’t worry, I’ll be quick.
1: It’s what you make it
Makeup takes on as much meaning as YOU choose to give it. Society will think what it wants to think (the same way it does for every other topic under the sun) but that should have no connection to what it means to you. Decide you’re trying to hide your true self from the world and that becomes the truth. Choose to wear it because it’s fun and makes you feel more confident, and that’s all it is. So stop looking to everyone else for answers and instead understand why you choose to wear makeup.
If makeup is vain, the same could be said for choosing to buy clothes you like, wearing jewellery, and cutting & styling your hair. After all, each of these things are superficial additions (and removals, in the case of hair cutting) to our bodies. They can also be considered a form of self-expression — so why does makeup get a harder time for being superficial?
3: Look good, feel good
Just like wearing a great outfit helps you to feel confident and ready to take on the day, so can makeup. I personally treat makeup as part of my work uniform for when I need to present myself to the world for whatever reason (video calls with clients, networking events, auditions etc). Once I put it on I feel like the day has begun, I look polished and professional, and I tend to find a bit more motivation to work harder and faster than I would if I was lounging around in pyjamas, messy hair and a naked face (which, let’s be honest, happens a bit when you’re self-employed).
And the most important thing I realised after years of worrying about what people thought about my hair, makeup, clothes, vocabulary, belongings and even sense of humour? If it’s not hurting anyone, you can do whatever the hell you want to! Humans are meant to be unique — it’s what makes us interesting. If you’re happy, productive, and living your best life, who gives a crap if it involves wearing makeup, dying your hair green or only wearing dresses with pockets (sorry, but why don’t all dresses have them?!). You do you and I’ll do me. Deal?
And there you have it. 20 years of wisdom wrapped up in less than 500 words. Kind of makes me wish I spent less time agonising over this stuff and more time just living my life. Oh well. Better late than never!
Thoughts? Leave me a comment below — I love a friendly discussion.
Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.