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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beauty for the Brains: Is Make-Up a Form of Oppression to Women?

Today I had my Genders class (Women's Studies) in De La Salle University-Manila under a male professor. He mentioned about make-up and raised a question: 

Is make-up a form of oppression to women? 

He went on and explained that there is nothing wrong with women who love make-up. I was fascinated with him when he went on to discuss make-up and how to find the right shade of foundation and concealer; which to put on first before the other. He talked about how you should put your eyeliner in the freezer to prolong its lifespan and you could only use it for a year. He was amazed on how women could tell which the lighter shade of foundation than the other is because he couldn't tell the difference even if the two foundations are placed in front of him.

However, we should be conscious about our motivations on putting on make-up. At a young age, most girls are often trained to be attractive to men; that’s why we were taught to act gracefully when we were too active in our younger years. If our motivation in putting make-up is that so we could be attractive and beautiful to the sight of men then I think we should take a step back and examine the big picture.

In my case, I feel very happy when I’m applying make-up; even before I went into this class my love for make-up is solely for my happiness and not to attract men. Make-up is only an object and we are the thinking rational beings so we could use this object according to our goal or motivations; it will depend on us how make-up could be good or bad to ourselves. I was a frustrated painter in my youth and when I found my love for make-up, the face became my canvass and I feel more at home with painting the face than a blank flat canvass.

I do believe that make-up does something to our personality and I use it by every means to become happy and optimistic about my day which in turn becomes confidence. For example, I feel the prettiest when I put on thin line of eyeliner because it makes me realize how beautiful the shape of my eyes is. I’m kirat; my right eye’s fold is perfectly normal but my left eye’s fold is very weird so I have uneven eyes. At first I was very afraid to use make-up since I thought “Oh eye make-up wouldn’t work on me because I have imperfect eyes” But then I felt that I should learn to accept my condition and embrace it; so now I don’t care when I put on my eyeliner and it looks perfect when my lids are half open but when I open my eyes, poof! My liner on the left eye had disappeared while my right eye’s liner is okay. I just accept it as it is and learn to find solutions for that. Finding solutions doesn’t mean that I hate my kirat eye, for me it just means that I can accept how I look and learn how to accentuate my flaws never minding how painful it was to look at my face in my younger years. Make-up for me made me accept myself; in my younger years I can barely look into the mirror because I don’t like what I see but make-up made me realize how beautiful women’s faces with imperfections and all.

So in my case, I think make-up can empower women and make us accept how we look like even if we do not fit in to the norms of beauty or attraction set by men (i.e. not having uneven eye folds).