What I put on my face has nothing to do with my worth

For a while it was the trend among feminists to shed any practice that could be seen as a tool of the patriarchy and one of the first things to go was the use of makeup. Feminists worried applying makeup was something they only did to please men, to make them more aesthetically pleasing to the male eye.

I get where they were coming from, and maybe I would have felt the same way about ditching the façade and baring my true, unmade-up feminist self to the patriarchal world, and I would have been taking a stand.

However, we are no longer in the era of 60s and 70s second-wave feminism, and I, like many other feminists, am embracing the idea that makeup doesn’t have to be oppressive; in fact, it can be quite liberating.

My relationship with makeup has been far more complex than making a feminist choice to embrace it. For me, it was a struggle for confidence that led me to my current relationship with it.

From the time I entered middle school I was concerned about how others perceive me, and that was also the point when I started wearing makeup on a daily basis. It started out heavy, almost nothing of myself remaining after it was all applied and without it I felt completely vulnerable — vulnerable to the judgment of everyone who saw me.

Really, it wasn’t until college that I started to change the relationship I had with makeup, but it didn’t begin as that exactly. It began with relinquishing a lot of feelings I had about how others looked at me and how I looked at myself.

Once I decided I was happy, everything else fell into place. I found that I didn’t need the security blanket of a fully made-up face anymore. I had gained confidence and lost a ton of negativity that I had been harboring for years.

I found that makeup played a much better role in my life as something I do for my own enjoyment, than something I had to do every morning for other people. I like the artistry of applying it, of all the different looks you can accomplish, and it has become something that is entirely for me because I like the process and the end result.

I would encourage my fellow feminists and my fellow women to do things because they make you genuinely happy. I would encourage you to find your confidence and if you find instead that something you are doing has become a security blanket, then I would encourage you to explore why that is, but I am not going to tell you it is wrong or right to wear makeup.

It had become too much of a necessity in my life, and so I changed the way I used it. It will never be anyone else’s business the way I or you chose to adorn our bodies and as long as we are doing for reasons entirely our own, it no one’s problem either.

As I write this, I have not touched my face with makeup in two days. And most days, when I do wear makeup, it is minimal: light foundation, mascara and lipstick. That’s it. My face isn’t perfect, and it makes me feel more pulled together to wear a little makeup most days, but I have made my routine as minimal. I save time in the mornings, I don’t worry about it, and I like the way I look.

Jocelyn Gibson can be contacted at [email protected].