There used to be a point in my life when I wouldn't leave the house without makeup. Even when I ran an errand as simple as going to the grocery store, I always made sure my makeup was done.
Now, don't get me wrong; when I say "makeup," I basically mean a little foundation, lipstick and mascara. I kept it simple and was far from being an Instagram makeup artist who knows how to put on fake eyebrows and bake her face. I think I fell into the makeup trap because I liked to experiment.
I was never an artist and couldn't draw or paint, so my face was my canvas. Nowadays, though, most of the time I'm without makeup unless I'm headed out for a special occasion. But I also understand that there are other reasons people wear makeup.
One of my favorite YouTube makeup artists suffers from severe burns on her face. But if you looked at Shalom Blac with makeup on, you'd never know that. Her makeup is flawless and rivals that of professional makeup artists. I can understand why she chooses to wear makeup, and I appreciate the fact that she's willing to publicly share her story as a burn survivor.
Whether you wear makeup to hide scars, to accentuate your face or because you just like to try different looks, there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't make you less of a woman or less empowered, as some would like you to believe.
For example, there's this #NoMakeUp "movement" created by Alicia Keys in an effort to promote her upcoming album. In a recent essay published for Lena Dunham's feminist website/newsletter Lenny, Keys wrote about why she's choosing to go makeup-free.
"Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of," she wrote. "And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect."
Keys said that she realized how much she was dependent on makeup when she walked into a photo shoot right after the gym, with a face without makeup and a scarf tied around her head. She said she was shocked by the photographer's request: "I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too!"
"I was shocked," Keys wrote. "Instantly, I became a bit nervous and slightly uncomfortable. My face was totally raw. I had on a sweatshirt! As far as I was concerned, this was my quick run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look, not the actual photo-shoot look."
Keys said it was the most liberating experience she's ever had and prompted her to start the #NoMakeUp movement and encourage other women to do the same.
"I hope to God it's a revolution," Keys said. "'Cause 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."
Kudos to Keys for coming into her own skin. But there's nothing revolutionary about not wearing makeup, and wearing it doesn't make a person less empowered.
I remember back in the day when Keys started out, she had what people would refer to as problematic skin. I'm assuming that after some expensive treatments, her skin is in much better condition. But guess what? Not everyone has the resources to see some of the top dermatologists or aestheticians for skin care.
Makeup, just like any accessory, is a form of expression. The most feminist and empowered woman can walk around with a face beat to the gods and still be proud of herself. Just as someone with a bare face can, too.
I think I would probably have appreciated Keys' no-makeup movement if it had happened before she got her skin in check and not as part of a promotion for an album. Don't shame women into feeling less because they want to wear "more." Makeup, just like music, is an art form that can be embraced by those who want to express themselves without having to feel that they're being judged for doing so. I'd also be more inclined to jump on a movement about not dating married men. I doubt she'd start that one.