I’ve noticed that when it comes to movements, there’s an assumption that to be a proponent of one aspect of it means you’re against the other. This has been the case when it comes to important things like the way mainstream society (i.e., White folks) view the Black Lives Matter movement and even something as empowering as Black Girls Rock! to things as simple as this whole #NoMakeup movement going on.
It’s gained quite a bit of traction thanks to Alicia Keys, who stated that after being paranoid about leaving the house without makeup and struggling for years with bad skin, she used makeup as a mask. Eventually, after doing a photo shoot makeup-free, she felt empowered, and made it clear that as she promotes her newest album, she’s “not covering up anymore.” She even attended the BET awards last month without makeup.
KeKe Palmer, who has been criticized when makeup-free, is a supporter. And just this past week, Sanaa Lathan said that for the summer, she’s ditching her usual weaves and makeup for a fresh, “au naturel” look.
It was in these declarations from people with influence that I noticed a number of individuals who weren’t here for the idea of encouraging women to forgo makeup. And I also saw people who were proponents for going without makeup, but made their stance clear by saying that they wished more women would stop with the makeup and weaves, claiming that those who embrace such trappings should stop “obsessing” and learn to love their natural selves. And therein lies the problem.
As I’ve already said, too many people think one has to be the antithesis of the other. But the truth is, you can respect and even love a woman’s choice to enjoy playing up her features in makeup while choosing, for yourself, to go without it. And you can be a Beauty Insider card-holding member of Sephora and still appreciate a woman’s realization that she was wearing makeup for all the wrong reasons and wants to leave it alone.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t the intention of either star to make it appear as though one way of doing things is better than the other, which it seemed some people believed was an underlying message. Instead, they used their platforms to share with fans what is best for them. And as people with influence who may have followers who feel attached to certain accouterments for the wrong reasons (because they don’t think they look right without them), they wanted it to be clear that it’s okay to go without. Of course, we’re all adults here, so the pep talk from a celebrity likely gets a side-eye from most. But let’s not act as though there aren’t young people, and grown people, who couldn’t use some encouragement. Namely, encouragement from people who are often criticized heavily if they don’t step out of the house with a full contour job going on just to run errands. They understand the struggle most.
I’ve known many women who forgo wearing makeup. Those who do, they don’t do it as a stance against anything in particular, aside from the discomfort of wearing heavy cosmetics. And I know women who love makeup. Sistahs who take classes to get better at applying it and who shop at Sephora and MAC like they shop at the grocery store. I’ve also been around the folks who are anti-makeup (including some men who say, “You don’t need all of that”), and those who wouldn’t take a picture of me until I put a lip color on (because “a girl always needs a bright pop of color on her lip” and “You never know who you will run into”).
What I’ve learned from all of them is that you have to do what’s comfortable for you. Keyword: comfortable. If wearing a lot of makeup is your thing, do it. If going barefaced is your thing, go for it. But whatever you do, do it for healthy reasons. Don’t cover yourself because you’re uncomfortable with your skin without makeup and you’re worried about how you will be received. Don’t pass up on makeup because other people you’ve never met told you that you look better without it or because a man who couldn’t tell the difference said so. Do whatever works for you and respect other people’s choice to do the same for themselves. Whatever your choice, save your debates for more pressing matters instead of arguing with fellow women and men (who rarely have to deal with the pressure to look a certain way) when none of that does anything to tear down the beauty standards that are really holding us back from feeling comfortable enough to do what the hell we want anyway.
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