Made Up Masquerade: Hiding Behind the Expectation of Beauty

I am a nineteen-year-old girl who just bought her first compact over the summer. These days, that’s almost unheard of. “You can’t be beautiful as you are,” is the general consensus of social media and Hollywood Hills types, who roll into the bedrooms of teenage girls to say, “You aren’t good enough for us.”

Those kinds of people are the ones dishing out magazines with dieting tips, or like Kylie Jenner, who just put out an app that’s basically a style guide to being her. With makeup tutorials meant for teens, but are so excessively created they would be at home on a model. Being Kylie is not realistic. How does Kylie expect someone with no skills in the “putting a face on” department to master makeup tricks that expert makeup artists are doing for her? Not to mention, I’m someone who is not worth millions of dollars and cannot afford the expensive products Kylie recommends. Broke College Students put your hands up!

For reals here, I have a friend who grew up sheltered from TV, Video Games, THE INTERNET and she knows how to put on makeup better than I do. What’s the deal with that? How did she learn? How did any of my friends learn, for that matter?

Are some girls imbued with the know-how to contour like bosses at birth? Do others get struck by lightning at puberty and Bam! Amazing liquid eyeliner skills. What did I miss out on to be so inept as I am?

The most likely story is that the people who know the secret to makeup-ing were taught by their mothers. In all seriousness, though, some of these people are talented with natural God given gifts. That did not happen to me. My mom failed in How to be a Girl 101, so I have to suffer as well

Honestly, it isn’t like I never tried. I watched YouTube videos out the wazoo in an attempt to figure out the difference between concealer and foundation, or the secret trick to achieving the perfect cat-eye. (And we all know that unless you’ve got the steady hands of a neurosurgeon, that’s impossible.) Big name Vloggers like Zoella, Sprinkle of Glitter, Bethany Mota, and Michelle Phan down to the lesser known, but speedily rising, Manny Mua, Patrick Starrr, and Ellarie were my go-tos as I blossomed into makeup guru extraordinaire.

Or not.

I learned that “being a girl”, where the expectation to cake on layers of fancy face altering magic, is hard.  They can tell you how to do it, but actually doing it is completely different. Suffice to say, I am hopeless. No expert teaching, can overcome my wobbly fingers or inability to keep my eye shut without blinking uncontrollably. Pretty is difficult. The few times I have worn a complete face of makeup a friend did it for me and I may have looked absolutely gorgeous for the two hours I wore it, but the entire time the thought going through my head was how can people stand this on their faces. Answer: they trained themselves to be.

They’ve taught themselves how not to scratch their nose or touch a lip to anything that could mess up their lipstick. I can’t stand it for more than the few hours I go to classes, maybe a short night out, and there’s people out there that sleep in it. That’s not good for your complexion! But what are we to do, when females aren’t considered pretty without makeup on. Even other women fall into this idea of women needing it to be considered thus by their own gender. Out of everyone they should appreciate the effort that goes into it. And it’s more than just makeup nowadays: women, teens, little girls, are expected to shave their legs and have eyebrows that are “on point.” The media tries to shame girls for something many do not know how to do or cannot do to their celebrity standard. Like Kylie Jenner and her app, the expectation is unrealistic even for celebrities sometimes. The standard is weird. Not even Kylie can walk out of her house looking flawless every single time. Ask the tabloids. They’ll tell you.

For example: a few years ago, when the cast for The Hunger Games Movie was released, a little girl by the name of Willow Shields became Primrose Everdeen. And Primrose did not have a uni-brow, but the picture circulating of Willow did. People were up in arms. At a younger age at the time, I was too. Girls shouldn’t—No, they cannot have uni-brows. As someone uncomfortable with her own brow’s affinity for unifying, I didn’t like Willow’s uni. Now I think, why did I care so much? Of course the makeup people working on the film were not going to let that girl walk on set with a caterpillar on her forehead. Still, it was such an issue at the time and I can’t imagine how little Willow felt getting one of her first big roles and was immediately bashed by her appearance due to an unnecessary standard. It’s not just her either. Go into any drugstore and find multitudes of tabloids with headlines reading: Celebrities without Makeup (they are of course all women), Selena Gomez gained weight (Selena looks fine no matter what her body type), and Dangerous Body Obsessions (Every photo on the front is of—guess what—women). What is it with body shaming and the media? Moreover, what is it with me trying to wear makeup simply because I am expected too?

My boyfriend actually prefers me without makeup. Why, because he didn’t like the standard it put on high school girls. Back in the day (two years ago), when he saw girls at school caking it on just because they were insecure with themselves he wished that they could feel beautiful without it. They should have too, but I told him that if it makes them feel better then more power to them. They feel beautiful and that’s all that matters. The standard that’s put on women and young girls should nat make them feel forced to wear makeup (like it made me) or make them insecure in their own skin (like it does for a lot of teenaged girls).

Ironically, after I started to wear makeup (not much because, again, the concept is mostly lost on me) he found that actually it makes me look really beautiful, in a different way than what I already was. My point here is that makeup should enhance the skin we are already living in. It shouldn’t be used to cover us up until all we are is a mask that society accepts.

I am beautiful with or without makeup. Do I still want to learn how to wear it? Yeah, totally! Makeup is just another way to express myself, but it is not a way to cover up who I am inside. And I don’t ever plan on using it that way. I do plan on using it, though, that is if I ever figure out how to wing my eyeliner.

1 Comment

  • Sandie says:

    Great article Rachel! When I read this line “My mom failed in How to be a Girl 101” I thought for a minute that Helen wrote it 😉

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