Is Wearing Makeup Vain?

Vanity: “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.”


Photo by Sarah Fleming

Sarah Fleming wears makeup on the right side of her face, and no makeup on the left side of her face

Sarah E. Fleming, Online Editor

Since (basically) the beginning of time, women have been expected to look a certain way. Especially in the media, the appearance of women has been heavily criticized. If you don’t wear makeup, you’re ugly. If you do wear makeup, you’re fake. So one day, while sitting in my desk chair at 6:30 in the morning before school, hunched over doing my makeup, I looked in the mirror and thought am I vain? Is it a bad thing to wear this much makeup? No, it isn’t; and here’s why.

Makeup to me and many others is an art form. We aren’t trying to lie to anyone and you don’t need to take me swimming on the first date because my foundation is waterproof. Eyeshadow, lipstick, etc are paints for the canvas that is my face. It’s a way of self-expression! And it’s way more complicated than you would think; we use the color theory to cancel out redness or create defined cheekbones. Every man (yes, men are allowed to wear makeup too!) and woman out there has a different way of how they do their makeup and they love to talk about it. So, why do some people feel vain when they put on makeup? Before I continue, please watch this video by beauty blogger Em Ford, or known as MyPaleSkin on Youtube. Seriously, watch it.

Em Ford, MyPaleSkin on Youtube

In case you didn’t watch the video, I’ll break it down for you. Em Ford has lots of acne, and after posting images of herself on social media, she got comments telling her she was “disgusting”. She then posts a picture of herself with makeup on, and people tell her that she is “false advertising” and that women with makeup on “shouldn’t be trusted”. However, how terrible these comments are, they wouldn’t exist without society’s standards for women. Women have to have clear skin, good bone structure, they need to be young, have thick lashes, nice eyebrows, plump lips, no pores, no wrinkles, no marks at all on their face, a slim nose, etc etc. However, if they achieve any of this by using makeup, they’re fake. Companies thrive off of this by creating new insecurities for women. Here is just one example of a beauty company taking advantage of societies expectations of women.

Courtesy of Her Campus

This is a real ad by Benefit Cosmetics for one of their eyeliners. The ad has two pictures: one picture has an eye with no eyeliner saying “yuck”, and the other picture is an eye with eyeliner saying “wow”. Now, what stands out to you might be the terrible marketing tactic, but look closer at those two photos. Notice anything missing? I’ll tell you. This model has no wrinkles at all near her eyes, which would be concerning as all humans naturally have wrinkles under their eyes, no matter how old they are. Is that it though? Nope! Her eyes have none of those red squiggly veins in them and are completely white, her skin is so smooth it looks like plastic and has no pores, I can almost guarantee they modified her eye color, or at least added in that white circle, her eyelashes are thicker in the second photo (hint: look at the bottom lashline), and her eyebrows are perfect. They photoshopped her so much in this picture, that she almost looks more like a robot than a real person.

It’s ad campaigns like these that drive it home to women that they have to look like this. Everywhere we look, there is photoshop everywhere (which is the real false advertising if you ask me.) Everyone is using filters now to look like the distorted view of what we think people should look like; on social media, ads, and even in videos. The problem is, that image of smooth skin and no red lines in our eyes is unattainable. For the record, I could care less if you photoshop yourself or erase your wrinkles, but trying to pass that off as real (especially to sell a product) is just wrong.

Okay so brands are making all these ads that are false advertising, but what does that have to do girls thinking they’re vain for wearing makeup? Well, when you’re supposed to be naturally flawless and you’re surrounded by unrealistic standards, when you “hide” behind makeup, that can make you feel vain. Oh, so often I’ve heard “But Sarah, you don’t need to wear makeup to be pretty!”. And guess what? They’re right because I don’t wear makeup to be pretty. I wear it to give myself confidence, to express myself, and to let my creative side free. However, most importantly, I don’t wear makeup for you. I wear it for me.