Society must reconsider detrimental beauty standards

Freedom to groom oneself with cosmetic products should not be hindered by harmful assumptions.

Karolina Grabowska STAFFAGE

Jacqueline Lewis, Writer

I find it strange that I could be considered unprofessional if I do not paint my face before entrance into a professional setting. Looking polished in some contexts somehow necessarily implies that my blemishes must be unseen, my dark circles must be hidden and my eyes must be framed by colored lines.

Often criticized

This does not particularly inconvenience me. It might only take five to 10 extra minutes when I get ready in the morning. I have the funds to pay for my own supply of drugstore foundation, eyeliner, mascara, concealer and an assortment of other beauty products. I have no allergies to it and the irritation on my skin is minimal. But the expectation that I must wear makeup to be considered polished still troubles me.

Women are so often criticized for their use of makeup. They either wear too much or too little. Those who wear makeup are painted as vain, shallow, insecure or too sexual. Now, I do not often wear makeup. In fact, I very rarely wear makeup. This is for a variety of reasons, the largest being that I prefer to sleep in an extra ten minutes every morning rather than spending that time attempting to recover from an eyeliner mishap.

However, I do wear makeup occasionally. If I have a particularly unsightly blemish, or if there is a special occasion like a wedding or holiday for which I want to look fancier, I might wear some.

On Christmas Eve, family was visiting and I wanted to look festive. I wore a burgundy Christmas dress and some matching lipstick. I believed this to be a creative expression of my Christmas celebration and so I photographed myself sipping tea in a quiet moment before the arrival of my family and made it my Facebook profile picture. I thought it represented my feelings at that time well.

Shortly after I posted the photo, a male friend messaged me to express how my lipstick in the picture did not display my Christmas spirit, but it portrayed a change in my spirit. To him, I was no longer a bookish nerd with which I identified, but I was now somehow vain, sensual and attention-seeking, all assumed by the color of my lips.

appearance-based assumptions

Our style of dress does express ourselves — our personalities, status, likes or dislikes. We choose to express ourselves through these mediums of our own accord. We may wear bright colors some days or dark colors other days. We may wear a band T-shirt and jeans one day and a suit and tie the next.

Makeup is the same. It is an art, a routine expression of self for some and an exceptional one for others. It is a way to present our ideal self. No one should be shamed for concealing a blemish, and no one should be shamed for highlighting a feature they are proud of. Do we not do the same with clothing?

With this, I urge us collectively to put away our appearance-based assumptions. God is beauty and we glorify him in the celebration of and the expression of the beauty he created. As with anything, our appearances can become our god, but with humble hearts we can instead use our appearances to celebrate and worship our God.

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