More than a Mask: Makeup to Empower and Express

Twitter has taken to countless posts of men claiming women don’t need to wear makeup for their boyfriends or when they go out because their natural beauty is enough.

Fuck that.

I know, I know. These comments are intended to make us as women feel more secure about our image and promote our self-worth. However, it is a misguided attempt because we don’t wear makeup for the benefit of men. We wear makeup as a tool of self-expression and a marker of individualistic confidence in our feminine identity.

Often times, people think we wear makeup to impress others’ perception of their self-image. Popular rapper J. Cole shows this in his viral song “Crooked Smile” where he spits the lyrics:

Killing yourself to find a man that’ll kill for you
You wake up, put makeup on
Stare in the mirror but it’s clear that you can’t face what’s wrong
No need to fix what God already put his paintbrush on



While Cole emphasizes an important idea that women shouldn’t wear makeup to impress a man who doesn’t deserve their effort, he also implies that this is something women already do. And while this may be true for some, we as women do not primarily wear makeup  in order to appear more attractive for a man. Makeup is a creative outlet that we utilize to express certain moods or ideas about ourselves for our own personal motives and to establish self-identity. It’s nobody’s business but mine if I want to paint on eyeliner so sharp, it can cut through all the bullshit lies boys in my DMs tell me.

Makeup is essentially an art form to experiment with the ways we can express ourselves for ourselves. Body image is something that people struggle with internally, according to the Dove commercial that went viral in 2013 called “Real Beauty Sketches.” It makes sense that women would wear makeup as a tool to elevate our confidence and cement our self-image. This video showcases that makeup is used for the benefit of the one wearing it, not to improve others’ perception of their image.



“There seems to be a misconception (especially on the internet) that women who wear a lot of makeup do it out of self-hate or insecurity,” photographer and beauty vlogger Irene Khan said to Buzzfeed. “I believe the opposite. My love for makeup has gotten me so in touch with with every nook and cranny of my face.”

Statements like Khan’s really help uncover the true reason why us girls wear makeup and help draw attention to the idea that makeup really is a form of expression used to establish comfortability and creativity as well as establish a closer connection to our own image and identity.

The opinions of men really don’t factor in to our decision to wear makeup. Honestly, we could care less. We put on makeup to make ourselves feel like a bad bitch. When we get that wing just right and get a really poppin’ highlight on our cheekbones it hypes us up so much as we look in the mirror. After we’re done putting on our face for the night, we don’t think “Wow, this will really get the attention of all the guys tonight.” No. We look at ourselves in the mirror and say “Damn, you really are a bad bitch! Look at that bold lipstick that screams don’t mess with me and that highlight so bright it could outshine the sun.”

We like wearing makeup because it makes us feel like artists, painting unto a human canvas with immense possibilities. Also, we’re just really fucking good at it. It’s like a craft we can learn to master and when we have, we feel like we have just outgrown our young grasshopper identity and blossomed into a fierce warrior ready to take on the world.

Refinery29 Creative Director Lydia Pang wrote a piece about the purpose of makeup for women and what it means to wear it as a form of expression, creativity and empowerment:

I love makeup. Everything about it. From buying it, to applying it, to how it makes me feel. I find it therapeutic. And I don’t feel like I’m covering up or masquerading as someone more exciting or badass, but like I’m celebrating exactly who I am on the inside. Like clothes, makeup is an immediate platform to show the world your creativity.

That kind of celebration is paramount to how important it is for other people to understand that makeup is not worn for others. Makeup is used as a form of self-empowerment. We wear it solely for ourselves. It’s not necessarily about looking pretty, but it’s about feeling pretty. It’s about creating an image that you feel comfortable in and granting others the opportunity to see this creation. Other people, and men in particular, are the audience to the personal essay women have developed to establish a greater relationship with their own being.

So, men: Stop telling women to stop wearing makeup. We’ll wear it if we damn well want to because it doesn’t concern your perception of us, but rather empowers our own femininity and artistic creativity to self-express.

I’ll damn wear makeup if I want because it makes me feel like an artistic, otherworldly queen who doesn’t need to subject herself to the irrelevant opinions that aim to control my image. As my caption below says, “boss up and change your life.” And if the men in your life can’t get with the program…well, they can “suck my dick” as Lizzo eloquently puts it.

And ladies, don’t let your man keep you from wearing that dark lipstick or poppin’ highlight. Own your creativity and beat your face on because you’re a beautiful bad bitch who doesn’t need permission to wear makeup.

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