Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Covering up

It's disapp-ointing to read that almost half of women questioned about make-up say they feel negative about themselves if they don't wear it. And the dislike of their natural faces can start in their early teens or even sooner.

The 44 per cent who don't like going without make-up say that without it they either feel unattractive, or naked, or self-conscious. Where does this aversion to their given appearance come from?

As a bloke who's never used make-up and just accepts my face as it is, ugly or otherwise, I simply don't understand why women are so repelled by what they see in front of them in the morning that they have to conceal it and prettify it as fast as possible.

I remember that in the sixties and seventies many women decided to abandon or severely reduce their make-up as a protest against having to meet men's expectations of what women should look like. Gradually however they lost their nerve and went back to slapping on make-up as lavishly as before.

Presumably the more you wear make-up, the more you believe it's necessary and the more unnatural it feels not to be wearing any. Your real face becomes an embarrassing secret you have to hide from the world.

Older women are often trying to cover up wrinkles, a rather pointless exercise since men will assume straightaway that's the purpose of their make-up and wonder just how decrepit they are underneath.

Of course if a woman uses make-up, her boyfriends won't know what she really looks like until the moment they discover her without it. She must get nervous about their reaction. Will they be dismayed or will they prefer the natural look? Mind you, there may still be a few males out there so unobservant they fail to notice the difference....

And why is it only women who feel they can't be seen without a generous layer of make-up? Jeez, there are plenty of men out there badly in need of some cosmetic enhancement. Funny though, I can't see the average bloke getting up and putting on his face any time soon.

Unfortunately I've had to reintroduce the dreaded wordcheck as I'm getting loads of email spam. Rats!


  1. Hand up here, I do use a little make up to give my face a lift. When I meet people without my street face on, they immediately ask if I am unwell, yet when my face is dressed the compliments flow. Actually I think it is more important to wear clothing in a colour spectrum that suits the natural skin tones.

    I would equate the female unmade-up face to the unwashed scruffy look of a three day facial growth on a man.

  2. I think make up usually looks good on younger women and teenage girls because they look good in the first place. The make up accentuates their good points and draws attention away from their bad ones. It can also be fun and crazy and ridiculous too.

    In older women, make up can give useful signals, like "I wish to be taken seriously," "I care about looking good" "I take care of myself" etc. Or even (as you say) "I'm not ill" !

    I know quite a few women who wear make up to project a particular sort of character. They don't necessarily expect it to be believed, it's just how they feel like and they're expressing it with make up.

  3. I usually only wear a line of khol on my lower eyelid. It takes a second to apply and it makes my eyes more noticeable.

    If I'm going somewhere special I'll add mascara and lip gloss but that always disappears as soon as I eat or drink something.

    I hate blusher. The same goes for blue eyeshadow

  4. Grannymar - That's amusing that when you're without make-up people ask if you're unwell! Personally I think three days of male stubble is a lot more unsightly than a woman without make-up.

    Jenny - True, make-up can be fun and crazy and ridiculous as well as just a cover-up. I also agree about the signals older women are giving out and the wish to express a certain sort of character.

    You see, we blokes just don't understand the half of this make-up business....

  5. Myra - I'm impressed that you only use the barest minimum of make-up. Mascara disappears when you eat or drink? How so? I think blue blusher suits some women but not others.

  6. I wear make-up when I want to, but usually forget and feel no different without it. Sometimes, I spend ages on it for a night out, but that is mostly because dressy clothes invite a dressy face.

  7. Hulla - Hey, where've you been all this time? How's everything going?

    Glad to hear you don't feel any different without make-up. A very healthy attitude.

  8. i go through made up and non made up periods but the made up ones only run to lippy and eye make up.

    oprah says a lady shouldnt leave the house without lipstick and earrings and i happen to think it is an excellent rule of thumb. but i'm not necessarily a lady :)

  9. As a man, you are not subjected to a daily barrage of media messages that made-up faces are more beautiful, so of course it doesn't make sense to you. We are. Flip through a magazine some time - see many unmade up women? Hell, make-up is the least of it now that we have Photoshop. But I wear virtually none anyway. Mascara some of the time, lip gloss when I'm going all-out. My skin is bare and I'm actually less self-conscious that way.

  10. I just read Kylie's comment. Oprah can bite me.

  11. Kylie - By no stretch of the imagination would I describe you as a lady. More a normal, feisty human being. Lippy and eye make-up seems like a sensible compromise.

    Agent - Oh, I know, the media is crammed with heavily made-up women. The streets are full of them too. There's no escaping the message that women with plain faces are a bit odd. Good that you're less self-conscious with bare skin.

  12. Hmm...there are very few days when I can be arsed to put make-up on.

    I quite like it and have a complete ton of it. But I put it on when I feel like and have fun with it when I do.

    I'll let you into a secret Nick: women don't wear make for men. They never have. They wear it for other women.

    Given that the average, heterosexual male can't even tell when we've had a hair-cut, expecting a bloke to notice the different shade of YSL lipstick - oh please.

    We wear make up to be complimented by other women.

  13. Roses - Oh, it's not a secret, I've been told that often enough. But at that time men were getting the blame for everything! Though I have known women whose boyfriends insisted on a full make-up job....

    True enough about men's abysmal powers of observation when it comes to female appearance. And I have to admit I'm far from perfect myself.

  14. Roses - Hang on a sec, though. Who exactly are models and actresses and businesswomen putting on their make-up for. Surely their employers?

  15. I came here to defend my use of make-up (only a little foundation and eye liner). I was going to say it makes me feel better and gives me confidence - which proves your point I suppose.

    Is that necessarily a bad thing? Given the world we live in if we need a little aid to fake/face it, nothing wrong with that I think.
    If the world were different ...

  16. Liz - I wouldn't call you out for doing something that gives you confidence. Why should I, if it's just a harmless little standby. We all need our confidence-boosters. Yes, if the world were different....

  17. Well.......I admit to being a woman who never leaves the house without makeup of some sort and I've been that way since about age 14. I think I look better with some color on my face, as I'm rather pale. I also wear glasses, so I wear eye shadow and eye liner to make my eyes stand out more. It literally takes me less than 5 mins to do my makeup, so I don't feel that it's a burden.

    Like someone else said, if I'm somewhere without any make up, people ask if I'm well! Oddly, I do think that women in their 40's sometimes look younger WITHOUT makeup.

    Overall, I just feel better if I know I'm looking my best. So, why shouldn't I feel good about myself?

  18. Bijoux - Like I said to Liz, if it makes you feel good about yourself, fair enough. Who would begrudge that? I'd never really thought about make-up/no make-up for forty somethings. I shall take a closer look now!

    I just think it's a shame if women feel forced to put on make-up because if they don't they feel like crap.

  19. I may be gau buy women with no eye make up ie "piggy eyes" is NOT good look.....
    does that help nick

    I think not

  20. I should add that it helps that I was blessed with clear skin, even as a teenager. I might feel differently about it otherwise.

  21. John - You must have been in a bit of a hurry when you wrote that! Do women have piggy eyes if they're not wearing make-up? I hadn't noticed that myself. Going to the other extreme, I always liked Dusty Springfield's heaped-on eye make-up.

    Agent - Clear skin is a great advantage. But if your skin is a problem, make-up comes in useful.

  22. But I thought you were losing weight rapidly, John....

  23. The idea of people dressing up, transforming their appearance and being outrageous or flamboyant appeals to me.
    But day-to-day? What's natural is wonderful. There's no need for all the slap.
    But then again... I don't think people need wear perfume all the time either, but sometimes it does work.

  24. Blackwater - I agree, day-to-day for most women it simply isn't necessary. But make-up as part of dressing-up, that's when it's pure fun.

  25. A long long time ago, I realised that no amount of make up will improve my looks or how I smell. I don't use any make up or deodorant or after shave or anything. I use a mild scented soap and that is good enough for me. My late wife was like that too.

    But, you are wrong about men. There is a creature called the Metrosexual which indulges in make up, and other paraphernalia that is making cosmetics industry very rich in India.

  26. Ramana - Actually I'm the same. I never use anything but soap, and sometimes just clean water. Yes, I gather there are men here who like a bit of cosmetic reinforcement. Trouble is, the ones who apply it are not generally the ones who need it....