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By Hannah Cluley
The Daily Mail recently published an article online showing the stark difference between a woman without and with makeup. The two photos apparently have sparked a lot of controversy, with people making comments involving words such as ‘betrayal’, a ‘disguise’ and stating that the makeup hides the woman’s true self. Are these words really appropriate when used to describe the use of makeup? This article made me question my own use of makeup. I am a pale, blonde haired, 22 year old. Without mascara, you cannot see my eyelashes, and without eyebrow pencil, I might as well have shaved my eyebrows. So by wearing makeup, does that mean that I am ‘hiding my true self’? Somehow I am not convinced. Sure, I look very different without makeup on, and once on holiday, a girl who had spoken to me whilst I was by the pool, sans any makeup, had no idea who I was when I saw her that evening, looking glam. But I find that more amusing than anything.
This notion that wearing makeup, and accentuating your features, is a betrayal, sort of goes against everything we’ve ever been taught. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ and ‘don’t take things at face value’ have been drilled into us since primary school. Surely then, whether I am wearing makeup or not, whether I am making myself more ‘appealing’ to the masses, doesn’t really matter, because no matter how I look, it’s nothing to do with my personality. Why then, have people commented in fits of outrage, at how different this girl looks? If this girl wants to make herself look more attractive (in her opinion), and that makes herself feel more confident, why on earth can it be deemed as a betrayal? One commenter even compares her transformation to that of a guy wearing prosthetic muscles under a top (you can buy these apparently!), stating that if a woman found out, they would feel betrayed. Would you feel betrayed by this? I have given it some thought, and to be perfectly honest, betrayed is not a word I’d use. You can change the physical appearance of muscles, you can go to the gym, you can eat a healthy diet. I cannot however, miraculously make my ridiculously pale and invisible eyelashes grow thick and dark. I could dye them, but then that’s just the same as using makeup.
I have actually fallen victim to the mortified response from a guy, upon seeing my makeup free face. Okay, mortified is a bit of an exaggeration but his reaction was funny. However, it got less funny when he’d slyly make comments such as ‘oh are you not going to put mascara on?’ Should I put mascara on? So that he feels more comfortable? I think not. Another amusing tale is whenever my father sees me without concealer or foundation on, he makes comments like ‘are you feeling all right? You’re not ill are you? You look a bit tired’. Funnily enough Dad, I am tired! So is it acceptable for me to hide my fatigue from the world? I think so. I shouldn’t worry my father about how pasty I’m looking.
People may look drastically different with or without makeup, or with or without their hair dyed, but classing it as a betrayal, seems like a very shallow and quite preposterous thing to do. This is however, only my opinion, and (clearly) quite a few people seem to feel very differently!
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham