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Is there an “anti-makeup” culture at Rhodes?

Chloe Osmond

“Isn’t she beautiful?” I ask aloud to my friends one day, referring to a female student with beautifully contoured cheekbones, expertly winged liner and shimmering, golden eyelids.

“She’s wearing so much makeup”, comes the response. It’s clear they regard this as a negative thing. They don’t see the artistry like I do.

This got me thinking about the existence of an “anti-makeup culture” at Rhodes. It is very acceptable on campus for women to walk around makeup-free, unlike in other spaces in society. However – in my experience – this gets to the extreme, where it is less acceptable for women to make choice to wear makeup. There’s an attitude if you wear too much makeup, you’re “fake”; wear too little and you look “tired”. It’s a trap!

These attitudes come along with the common misconception people who wear makeup do so merely to attract the attention of others, and this is perceived as a bad thing. However, the reality is everyone seeks validation from others in many ways on a daily basis. Applying a bit of lipstick in the morning may or may not be a way of doing this.

However, there are many other reasons why people wear makeup. For some, it’s a confidence boost. There are mornings I don’t feel like a human until I’ve got some concealer on my dark circles and spots, darkened my small, fair eyebrows to match my artificial hair colour, and applied mascara to my tiny eyelashes. Other mornings, I don’t feel the need, and I go out in all my sleep-faced glory. There are plenty of women who feel comfortable enough with their features they don’t wish to decorate them at all, and that is a valid decision to make, but it is not the only correct decision.

Makeup can also be incredibly fun. Given the opportunity, I have been known to spend two hours in front of my mirror getting ready for a night out. There are endless possibilities to explore, so many combinations of colours, products and methods to try. It’s an exciting process of metamorphosis each time. The ability to do makeup well is also a skill. If you think I learned to contour my cheekbones and wing my liner overnight, then you must not have been present for the years of intensive YouTube tutorial-watching, practise and improvement.

Makeup is not – contrary to popular belief – a means of deceiving people unless said person is gullible enough to believe you have naturally golden eyelids and Instagram brows. It is perfectly acceptable to decide to leave the makeup to the beauty gurus, but do not let your decisions negate those of others.

Furthermore, if a woman experiences criticism for her expression through make-up, think about male-identifying individuals who wear make-up. Of course, there is no logical reason for makeup-up being only for women. It’s just colourful pigment placed strategically on the skin – it has no gender. So with men like Manny Gutierrez and Lewys Ball – the first male faces of Maybelline and Rimmel respectively – taking the makeup industry by storm, it’s time to stop giving male make-up lovers the side-eye.

Rhodes has the capacity to be a very accepting place, so there should be as much love and respect expressed towards the makeup-wearing at the university as there is towards the bare-faced beauties.

Image sourced from  https://i.ytimg.com/vi/NpnUaz-GEqs/maxresdefault.jpg

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