I love cool makeup.

Neon eyeliner, red lips, purple lips… whatever you want, I think its cool. I even try it myself with varying degrees of success. However, what I think attracts me the most to this world of cosmetics and makeup is the sense of artistry, design, and fashion. I like the interplay of bright or dark colors against bright or dark skin. I like the way cosmetics can inspire mood, fantasy, and feeling. I put all my cosmetic pins on Pinterest under the heading “Fashion/Art.” These are not looks I will be wearing to class any time soon.

Everyday/constant makeup is another story.  I think ever since I was 13 years old, I have worn some form of makeup every day.  My mom has always emphasized the more attractive you are, the more helpful other people will be to you.  This Business Insider article reflects the same sentiment:

#8 Beautiful people are perceived as more likeable and trustworthy.
Beautiful people are typically treated better by others. In a study from Harvard University, researchers found that wearing makeup, shown to enhance a woman’s attractiveness, boosted people’s perceptions of that subject’s competence, likability, attractiveness, and trustworthiness.

People will ask you if you are sick or very tired if you do not at least wear mascara.  Maybe it is a sad and twisted system, but why not play it for what its worth?

Economic and Global Impact of the Cosmetic Industry

The cosmetics industry in the United States generates about $59 billion in revenue every year (and estimated to be growing).  That is 59 billion dollars worth of nail polish, anti-aging cream, concealer, skincare products etc.  L’Oreal is the current winner, valued at 10 billion dollars.  In recent years, the safety and origin of production of cosmetics has come up in conversation. According to the FDA,

Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products. Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients. The law also does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with FDA.

Made in a Free World, which allows you to calculate your Slavery Footprint, tells you that child laborers are used to mine mica for the shimmer and sparkle we expect in our cosmetics.   [Note: Some companies have subsequently discontinued the use of mica.]  Additionally, these cosmetics are added to our piles of wastes, eventually  making their way back into our environments.  I have not done exhaustive research into the economic and environmental impact of cosmetics and corresponding industry, but if you would like to know more… I would be happy to do some more reading.

My Google search indicated that use of cosmetics by males is also on the rise.  However, I am sure that men, equally as women, have no clue what compounds they are putting in/on their bodies and what it took to get those compounds to the store.

Why are we spending billions of dollars and  hours of our time to conform to an idealized definition of beauty?  Who benefits?  Is the constant use of makeup improving our self esteem and self perception?  Is it worth so much time and effort?

Is that my face?

Thus, began my three week trial of not wearing (as much) makeup.  I am not 100% makeup free (I am still subject to societal pressures you know!).  I wear makeup with some fun cat-eye when I am seeing patients or having meetings at school.  I wrote a lot for some semi-formal events I went to, but again that was more in the interest of design and fashion (or so I tell myself). Every other ordinary day is devoid of makeup.

This has been my first successful trial at going barefaced and I have come across some interesting questions and revelations which I would like to share.

1) Is that my face?

Seriously. Who is that.  I feel like on makeup days I look more like Right ScarJo and now I am walking around looking like Left ScarJo.  Where are my eyes? Is that me?
I am still getting used to this.  My real face.

2) None of my friends treat me any differently.

Honestly, most of my friends do not wear makeup anyway.  My best friend wears it for fun on special occasions.  My boyfriend has never said anything about my recent transition.  People still sit with me in class.  Strangers still hold the door.  My mom is the only one who told me that I look tired.

3) How much money am I normally spending on this?

Its not like contact lens solution that I need to use everyday.  Quality makeup is expensive.  Mascara bottles only last so long.  Do I really want to be spending money on this stuff every…single…day?
Answer = No

4) How much time am I normally spending on this?

On days that I do not wear makeup, I can get up 10-15 minutes later.  I need that sleep man.

5) I feel more honest and open when interacting with the world.

Not that makeup is deceitful, but being “barefaced” infuses a vibe of sincerity to the rest of the day.  What you see is what you get.  I would like my friends to like me whether I was wearing makeup or not.  That would be an indicator of an actual friend.  I feel like the same philosophy now goes for the rest of my interactions.

So…why do we do this?

One argument for the daily use of makeup is that going barefaced can limit success.  Namely, our society is superficial and treats “beautiful” people with more regard and reward than the average human.  However, using makeup only reinforces this standard and behavior. We do not value our own selves as worthy of high treatment unless we look beautiful.  I too am culprit of perpetuating this cycle.  I may complain about double standards, but play right along and use makeup to reap what benefits I can.  Obviously, that is not very effective towards changing societal standards.

Perhaps the solution is to exit the cycle entirely.  Why not demand respect regardless of superficial appearance?  That is what we hope for racial equality, no?  Along those same lines, we should be pushing for equality regardless of skin color, length of eyelash, or attractiveness of your lips.  If a store will not treat with you with respect because you are not superficially beautiful, perhaps your time and money would be better spent elsewhere. While I am not courageous enough to go barefaced all the time, I think I am off to good start.  Boycotting the need to look perfect every day has provided me with more self acceptance, self awareness, and motivation to be treated as I deserve.

Both left and right ScarJo are beautiful.  I am beautiful on special occasion days and every other day. In other words… always.  So are you, don’t you think?