by Darcy A.
When my friend Jarrah asked me if I wanted to submit the odd piece for her blog, I responded with an enthusiastic YES. But once I started thinking about what to write, I drew blanks. I’ve yammered on for years about politics, but I wanted to try something new.
So what could I blog about? Well, I could always do something I’ve never done before and then write about the experience. Maybe I could not wear makeup for a week?
No no no no no. That would be unbearable.
Hmmm. Why would that be so bad?
Well, for one thing I think I’d get in trouble at work.
Really? Can they do that? WOULD they do that? Wouldn’t that be fascinating if they did?
Well never mind. Even if work didn’t care, I look pretty terrifying without make-up. If I went a week without it, I’d show everyone how ugly I am.
Wait. Do I REALLY think that?
Yeah. I think I really think that. Huh
I have a long history with make-up. For the last 15 years, I’ve put on at least under-eye concealer and a ton of black mascara before leaving the house every single day. As I’ve gotten older, the amount of cosmetics I use has increased. These days my daily routine includes foundation, concealer, press powder, 2 shades of blush, lots of mascara, shimmery lip-gloss and I usually paint in my eyebrows. If I’m feeling keen, I’ll throw on some black eyeliner. If I’m hitting the town, I’ll throw on some eye shadow. While I’m at it, I use 3 hair products and do a solid 20 minutes of styling each morning. All told, post-shower, I spend 30 minutes pruning every single day. That’s almost 200 hours a year! Add the cost and effort of looking fashionable (something I dabble with), the odd manicure/pedicure, high-end skin products, sexy sleepwear, exercise, four trips to the salon a year, and the never-ending sense that it’s still not enough, and my head is spinning. That’s a lot of time, money and effort.
For many women, these are things they can take or leave. To these women I must sound like a stereotype—but I don’t see myself that way! There are girls who compulsively read fashion magazines, wear g-strings and obsess over their appearances, but before this I never saw myself having anything in common with them. I’m aggressively political, fiercely independent and a self-proclaimed feminist. So I don’t know when it happened, but it appears that at some point in time I bought into the same image of feminity.
I thought I was choosing to do these things right up until I decided to choose otherwise. I only lasted 3 days without primping, and while I enjoyed the extra time in the morning, in the end it was just too uncomfortable. I felt like everyone looking at me was looking at my lack of make-up—and judging me. I was scared to go to my customer service job without looking “pretty”. I didn’t believe my partner when he said he said I don’t look that different. These are all big reasons to do my hair and paint my face, and they won.
In the end I realized I’ve internalized the cultural pressure that says that even if women will never look like those stretched and airbrushed photos surrounding them, they’re supposed to at least try. This impression is so prevalent I’m not sure how to change it.
There are big questions I’m left with, and I pose them to you:
How can women break free from the pressures (expenses, labour…) of having to conform to conventions of beauty? Or maybe a better question is do we need to change the pressures instead of putting the responsibility on individual women? How do we do that? Does it really require individual women to never wear makeup to set an example? Would that even be effective? Or should we be aiming our efforts at the enforcers of these standards such as beauty industries?
There might not be easy answers. I really don’t know. What do you think?