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Alice and Anna Discuss Make Up

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By Alice Koski and Anna Hill

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For many women, make up is a normal part of everyday life; in fact, the average woman in the UK wears make up for 341 day of the year. And whilst make up certainly seems like a positive force – for giving women confidence, for being an art, for giving us control over our image – it is definitely not without its problems. The double standards it creates, the pressure it puts on women to look perfect, the industry itself… to name just a few.

With this in mind, we’re tackling the subject of make up by answering and discussing the following five questions together. Here we go!

How were you introduced to make up? When did you start wearing it?

Alice – I was a complete tomboy from the ages of about 7 to 12, and had never wanted anything to do with makeup. It wasn’t until my second year of secondary school that I started to take an interest. My introduction to make up began with a cheap eyeliner from Boots, my mum’s old mascara and a lot of mistakes! Myself and my friends bonded over make up – there were many experiments and many disasters (I’m remembering like the time a fake eyelash got stuck on my real ones!). Make up was one of the things we learnt about together and I definitely count it as a good (bar the false eyelash incident!) experience.

Anna – That’s really cool! I had a similar experience, particularly with the whole tomboy thing at the beginning, and then in Year Seven when I changed friendship groups and I “got into” make up. It was fine, although I think I went with it more to fit in than because I actually enjoyed wearing it, and I still have no real understanding of make up so maybe that’s why. I also actually remember being sort of bullied by these girls who wanted to give me a “makeover” and then tried to make me look like a panda, and I didn’t know how to take it off, so I felt really humiliated. Luckily my now best friend helped me to get it off, but after that I stopped hanging out with them or wearing much make up.

Alice – That sounds awful! Year 7 is a weird time because it’s such a big transition.

Anna – Year seven 7 was a very very tough year for me! I think it must have scared me off make up, but I’m actually pretty comfortable with being a total rookie at it now.

Alice – I can’t remember whether I was genuinely interested in discovering make up or whether I felt like I should be interested.

Anna- I think a lot of girls feel like that! Maybe that’s why we all turn to make up, as a way of coping with the change and the new “grownupness”.

Alice – That’s a really interesting idea. I remember that same sort of time being pretty tough because of having to cope with all the ‘growing up’.

Anna – It makes me wanna ask everyone when they got into makeup to see if it was around the same time. Growing up as a girl is so hard! You’re thrown in at the deep end – expected to be really good at make up immediately and to have a great fashion sense.

Alice – Yes! And it’s all at once – that 12-14 age range. Quite a lot to cope with.

What is your daily make up routine if you have one?

Anna – I don’t really have a daily or conventional make up routine. I actually own very little make up, BUT I do have a kind of self-care routine that involves putting on make up. It’s a little bit bizarre I suppose but I like to view this routine as a kind of therapy! Basically, when I feel really sad, or just sort of lost, or any negative emotion, or creatively sapped, I paint my face with lipstick and/or use turquoise eyeliner to make myself have freckles and experiment with contouring and bizarre shapes and strange lip colours. anna1It’s really fun and it helps me to survive really awful weeks, or it can just be a way to remind myself that my body is my own and I can do with it what I want – it doesn’t have to look pretty or cute – it can be ugly, weird, eye-catching, sparkling, childish, alien, robotic, butch, magical and any number of other things. So my “make up routine” is a really intense one and only happens about once a month. It’s really refreshing and I would 800% recommend it! Just throw caution (and colour) to the wind and put stuff onto your face!

Alice – That’s really cool! Sometimes I forget that make up can be arty. Some would say it’s a form of art!

Anna – I’m not sure if it is or isn’t really, but I don’t mind – it’s purpose for me isn’t art ,it’s just a way of helping me access strength or confidence or happiness. But then I think selfies can be art, so if I take a selfie with the makeup maybe I’ve made it INTO some kind of art piece?

Alice – Yeah, why not? There should be a gallery set up for selfies!

Anna – I would so go to that!! And hope my selfies made it in! What about you? What’s your kind of routine with makeup?

Alice -– My routine is nowhere near as interesting as yours! I don’t own a lot of make up and I tend to keep things quite simple. But I’ve developed a make up routine in the order that I apply things – concealer first, then foundation, then eyebrows, then eyes, then lips. I like doing my eyes best, and I’m a fan of big eyeliner flicks! If I want to keep things more casual, I’ll not put as much on, but if I’m going somewhere where I want to impress, I’ll do more.

Anna – Oh that’s interesting! So if you are dressing to impress do you wear more obvious make up rather than natural- looking stuff?

Alice – Yeah, like if I’m going to a party, I’ll put on lots of eyeliner and probably lipstick, but if I’m meeting friends in the day or going to school I won’t bother.

Anna – This might sound a bit like a therapy question, but do you enjoy putting the makeup on? Like is it a nice part of your day?

Alice – I kinda do actually, especially if I’m with a friend and we’re going somewhere, it’s fun to share make up and help each other. I also quite like seeing the ‘transformation’ of it too.

Anna – Yeah! A mutual and often girly shared experience. And watching your face change, it’s cool. It’s pretty impressive what people who can do make up can do – like contouring is so impressive.

Alice – Exactly! I’ve never tried it but it’s pretty amazing how people can completely change the shape of their face!

Anna – I think this type of stuff is seriously underrated because it is considered girly, and girly ALWAYS equals vapid, stupid, bad, pointless.

Alice – I’ve also seen lot of guys saying that girls who wear make up are ‘lying’ to everyone, which pisses me off.

Anna – I think though they react like that because they don’t really understand makeup – not to be patronising.

Alice – They set a double standard as well by saying that girls who wear make up are fake/liars, but girls who don’t are ugly/aren’t making any effort!

Anna – I think that’s why it’s just important to really think about WHO you are wearing makeup for. It’s okay to want to look pretty and impress people, but make sure that YOU think you look pretty.

Why do you/don’t you wear make up?

Alice – I wear make up most days, as I’m either going to school/university or seeing friends. There are a lot of reasons why I do this, the main one being that make up makes me feel more confident in myself, and that gives me a boost. Another reason is that, after having worn make up for a few years now, it feels almost like a necessity. If I go out ‘bare-faced’ I feel a bit naked. I would never judge another girl for not wearing make up, but there is a certain standard I set for myself – if I’m going to be seeing certain people or if I’m going somewhere where I know I’ll get my photo taken, then I feel like I should wear make up.

Anna – That’s really interesting because I go out bare faced the majority of the time, but I do USE makeup in a similar way to you – sometimes I wear it to feel confident. I’m much less interested in looking pretty than I used to be. Now I care about looking like myself, being feminine, being interesting, being confident through the makeup I use. I also really like TRYING to look ugly – it’s so much fun and it takes all the pressure off!

Alice – These ‘expectations’ that I have for myself cause me to feel like I need to wear make up, but if I stopped wearing make up, what’s the worst thing that could happen!? Your attitude is great though, I definitely feel like I have to try and look pretty. Trying to look ugly is not something that’s ever crossed my mind!

Anna – Unfortunately it does take a lot of strength to shun those expectations, so you know, baby steps – not to be patronising! It’s fun, you should definitely try it some time.

Do you feel different when wearing makeup or more judged by others?

Anna – I do feel different! I think part of that is because it’s quite rare for me to wear makeup and because of various issues with my skin I’ve never felt comfortable putting on make up, so when I wear makeup I wear MAKE UP (with flashing lights and bold colours), rather than the: “I woke up like this with a flawless face and most men can’t tell that I am wearing makeup at all” look”. So I guess I must get judged by people who think I dress/am alive to please them, BUT I do not care for that. I enjoy confusing people though, for example once I sat on the tube and I had some turquoise freckles for confidence and strength and also fun (I was going to a Beyonce concert!!!), and these two guys opposite me were clearly SO CONFUSED by it all. I enjoyed screwing with their perceptions. I think I like doing that sort of thing because of my identity too – as a Queer person I often feel like media only represents me when it subverts what is seen as “normal,” so now I claim subversion as my “thing.” anna2I’ve also gotten used to people judging my “look” because I have body hair which I don’t really cover up (leg hair is so effective at keeping me warm in the winter!), so I like to play with those stereotypes when I wear make up too – i.e if you don’t shave you are dirty and lazy, but then if I don’t shave and look really well put together, I’m proving them wrong and hopefully making them question those judgments.

To get back to the question properly, I do often wear makeup and it makes me feel feminine and powerful which I like. The red lipstick I wear sometimes is so full of obviousness and vivacity so that’s great for confidence and making me feel unashamed to be here, to be taking up space.

Alice – Wow, super interesting. My response is that I suppose I feel a bit of both. Different, because make up makes me feel confident, more attractive, and more powerful like you said! But on the flip side, I do often feel judged for my make up choices. If I go without make up, I feel like people (especially girls) may judge me to be lazy or not making an effort. However, when I do wear make up, although it makes me feel confident, I feel like people make assumptions about me too. In particular, I’ve often encountered guys who see me wearing make up, ‘fashionable clothes’ (and not to mention I have the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype to live up to) and judge me to be ditzy/vapid/slutty, which is not true, and something I wouldn’t want to pin onto any girl.

Anna – No! It sucks. It’s basically like anything a teenage girl does is stupid. It’s one of those things that is SO difficult to sort out, because you don’t need to spend your life trying to show them how complicated and clever you are – and it’s not your job to educate them, but those stereotypes can be really harmful and REALLY hurt girls’ self esteem.

Has make up helped you, and if so how?

Alice – I feel like make up has helped me – with my confidence, with making friends, with growing up. But when I think about it – I didn’t need make up for any of those things. I’ve always enjoyed doing my make up and I enjoy wearing it, but I can’t tell if it’s for the right reasons.

Anna – This one is difficult. I think agree, but because I basically like to paint my face a lot, it’s helped me personally –  but I’m not using it in the same way that most women do.

Alice – I can’t really justify that make up HELPS women. Maybe it does at surface level, but on a deeper level I think it’s maybe quite a damaging thing. I don’t know!

Anna- I guess it’s not the actual ACT of putting on make up, it’s the context of our situation. The kyriarchy/the patriarchy MAKE make up problematic, but the activity itself isn’t really a problem at all. It’s difficult because I never want to be the type of person to be like “women you cannot do a thing you like to do,”  but there are definitely issues with make up and it can quite easily be used as a tool to manipulate and subjugate women. Which is not cool.

Alice- Totally agree… maybe it’s not that we stop using it, it’s that we change our attitudes towards it?

If make up is a problem, can it be solved? Is it more of a bad thing than a good thing? Can we change attitudes and prejudices towards it? We feel almost more confused now than we did before our discussion! However, hearing about each other’s experiences and points of view was both interesting and enlightening. We encourage you to have your own discussions about make up with friends (you can use the questions from here if you like!). We guarantee you’ll come out of it a little confused and a little enlightened…and if anyone comes to any definite conclusions, let us know!

Beauty is in the Eye of the…Media?

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By Guest Blogger Aimee Polimeno

 

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People Magazine’s Epic Photoshop Fail of Lupita Nyong’o

It’s no secret that our media-driven culture values an extremely narrow and stereotypical version of beauty, usually represented by a Size 2, photoshopped model. Most people know that judging and media photoshopping any girl larger than a size 4 has a detrimental impact on girls’ body image, and so it’s an issue fought by activists on many fronts. However, what many of us tend to overlook is that our culturally biased ideal of beauty does not encompass only body size, but also race.

The lack of models of various races and ethnicities in media, not to even mention the tendency to photoshop lighter skin tones on those few models and artists who do make the covers of magazines, is one thing. The association in movies and TV between violence and skin color is another. We teach children that when race is visible at all, light is right and everything else is…well, wrong. Consider seemingly harmless animated films like The Lion King, where our main man Mufasa and his family are a lighter fur color, while the evil and calculating Scar is a darker shade. Think about all those dark-skinned evil queens in Disney films.

Multiple studies have been done in psychology and sociology dealing with this early priming of children to favor light over dark, and the results are heartbreaking. A recent study conducted with young children in Mexico featuring a white doll and a black doll found the same results as a famous U.S. study conducted in the 1930’s by Kenneth and Mamie Clark. “Which doll is good?” the children were asked. “Which doll is bad?” “Which doll is ugly?” Almost all of the children associate positive words like “good” and “pretty” with the white doll and words like “bad” and “ugly” with the darker skinned doll. When asked why they like the white doll better, the children aren’t entirely sure; they just know that it’s the better doll. And here’s the heart-breaking part: when asked which doll looks most like them, the children struggle, knowing they have darker skin too, knowing that choosing the darker skin doll forces them to associate themselves with being bad and ugly.

These children are not born with a preference for lighter skin and the lighter dolls; this value has been forced on them unknowingly by the images they see and the stories they are told. This damaging set of values is deeply rooted in our culture and media and, as a result, we as consumers support and perpetuate the problem. There are entire shelves in drugstores dedicated to skin-lightening creams and hair relaxants, but these would not exist without significant demand. It’s difficult to be a critical consumer when we’re constantly barraged by images and ads telling us how we should look and what it means to be beautiful. But the fight has to begin with each one of us.

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Shirley sings “I Love My Hair!”

There are some positive signs of change. In 2010, Sesame Street featured Shirley, an African-American puppet girl singing about all the reasons “I Love My Hair.” With over 5 million views to date, it’s clear how important (and rare) it is for young African-American girls to see a character representing them who believes her untreated hair is fun and gorgeous on its own.

Shirley and her message of self-love and acceptance became a sensation and an inspiration for young Black girls. If one puppet can make such an impact, why can’t we as a collective group follow Shirley’s lead? It starts with challenging what we are sold in the media and then looking in the mirror and within ourselves to realize that we are beautiful. I am beautiful, and you are beautiful. Together we can push back against the cookie-cutter image portrayed in our media so young girls of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities can open a magazine and see a beautiful women who look like them. Like Shirley, love your hair, but also love your eyes, your curves, and your mind, and let the world hear it.

Let’s Hear It From The Boys: 1 is 2 Many

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Guest blog by Maggie Rooney

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Dulé Hill: “One sexual assault is one too many. My desire for this PSA is that it will heighten awareness and in turn be a catalyst for more prevention.”

 

The 1 is 2 Many Campaign reports three statistics:

  • 1 in 5 young women will be a victim of sexual assault while they are in college;
  • 1 in 9 teen girls will be forced to have sex;
  • 1 in 10 teens will be hurt on purpose by someone they are dating.

The Campaign argues rightly that we have to fix this problem and recently released a PSA in collaboration with the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault addressing the dire need to put an end to sexual abuse and assault. The PSA stars a number of famous men, including President Obama, Vice President Biden, Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro, Dulé Hill, Seth Meyers and Steve Carell. These men touch on the prevalence of the issue, the need to speak up when a tragedy is occurring, and the need for men to stop victimizing women.

I volunteer for the Family Violence Project in Maine as a hotline volunteer for victims and friends/families of victims of domestic violence. It is a 24-hour hotline where I am an advocate for anyone who needs assistance in almost all situations from a basic conversation about a worrisome issue, to creating a safety plan for immediate emergency help and shelter/legal information. After hearing from so many victims of domestic abuse and assault I know that this problem needs to be widely addressed, and I am so excited about this PSA.

The male voices and faces in this PSA are especially powerful. For years, abuse and sexual assault prevention workers have been trying to get men to speak out about the issue, as men are primarily responsible for this crime. Although only time will tell if this PSA makes a difference, the power of men speaking out is crucial for reaching out to other men. It matters that these men say publicly that they do not want to be part of the problem. It matters that they identify what’s wrong with this situation and these statistics and that they refuse to blame girls and women. This is a problem that cannot be taken lightly, and it is encouraging to know that men are now willing to commit publicly to be part of the solution.

 

 

 

 

The Ugly Reality About Beauty Standards

Author:

By Guest Blogger Maddie Wadington

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If you’ve been reading Time Magazine, The Guardian, Glamour, or just about any popular magazine or newspaper of late, you’ve seen reports of a new study that compares men and women’s perceptions of beauty. The researchers asked both men and women to judge which photo of a model, wearing various amounts of makeup, was the most attractive to them, which photo would be the most attractive to other men, and which photo would be the most attractive to other women. Both men and women believed that the models wearing more makeup would be judged as more attractive by men. Interestingly, that wasn’t the case. Results showed that more women than men preferred the model wearing more makeup.

So what’s going on here? The researchers conclude that women are holding themselves to a standard of beauty that does not exist. Well, yes, that sounds right. But in spite of their findings, these researchers assume this standard of beauty is created and maintained solely by men, reflecting their version of attractiveness. This doesn’t make sense to me. We’re bombarded 24-7 with photoshopped beauty ideals, so doesn’t media play an overwhelmingly large role, not only in the creation of this “make believe” version of beauty but also in maintaining this standard in girls’ and women’s everyday lives?

Sure, maybe there are more men making decisions about what images are created and sold, but are they doing this because of what they individually like or because they know what sells to women—what makes women anxious enough to say, “I want what she’s having?” Isn’t the bottom line all about marketing and money and grabbing women’s attention (and as we’ve seen from the likes of Veet’s recent ad campaign, anything goes). Isn’t the corporate bottom line and not individual male desire responsible for perpetuating these unrealistic beauty standards?

It is also interesting to note that the Time Magazine article that I read about this study was titled: “Science Shows Men Like Women With Less Makeup.” But I have to wonder, why is the emphasis placed on how men prefer women? What about considering how women view other women? From my experience, girls and women compare their own beauty to that of other girls and women (just like girls and women do in the media). Could the results of this study–women preferring the model with more makeup—simply be due to the pressures they feel to look like the models they see in magazines?

When we think about how males and females perceive beauty, it’s important to consider more than just the physical attractiveness between men and women. In our society, there are so many more factors affecting what we think of as attractive: like media, marketing, and the ways they impact our views of each other. This isn’t just about gender or even about biology. Only when we consider the larger forces at play here can we affect how these unrealistic beauty standards affect our relationships and how we feel about ourselves. Only then can our voices can be heard.

 

Dove’s Definition of Beauty Exposed

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By Guest Blogger Kylie VanBuren

 

urlWhen the Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign came out last year, I watched the video and cried. I’ll admit that it was a rainy night, and it had been a long week.

I forwarded the video to a friend after I watched it, with this note, “It’s nothing complicated, pretty much what you would expect, but maybe it’s expected because it is this simple. Anyways I found it powerful.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE

The video touched me, yet even in this emotional state, I found the ending to be very obvious. I expected the women to say bad things about themselves, and I expected them to have their opinions changed and to realize that they were actually beautiful after all.

The next day the conversation came up with another friend who had just seen the video, and I mentioned that I guessed the theme of the video. She pointed out that it was a little weird that I could figure it out so easily, and her comment got me thinking.

I began to question why the theme was so clear to me. And why did it affect me so much to see other women tear themselves down so easily, realize they were beautiful all along, and that they had work to do on their self-esteem. This is the question I come back to again. What is Dove doing and why does the company continually want us to realize our outer beauty? Who defines beauty? I mean, instead of just being happy with ourselves (something I still think is really important). Shouldn’t we also be questioning the whole beauty industrial complex, of which Dove is a part, and how they make us feel bad if we don’t feel good about how we look?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRXe7KUQxYI

I think so.  I found myself thinking about the Dove campaign more thoroughly, reading critiques of it, and watching this spoof video, and I realized that Dove is still pushing the idea of physical, outer beauty above all else. They are selling Dove; associating being happy with your body and finding your own, “natural” beauty, with the products they are selling.

This is bad enough, but do you know that Dove’s parent company is Unilever? What other beauty product company does Unilever own? AXE. AXE is marketed in clearly sexist ways that degrade and objectify women. AXE sells women to men. Dove sells beauty to women.

Axe The Dirtier You Get

Axe Any Excuse to Get Dirty ad

What kind of beauty? Physical beauty. The kind of outer beauty that women must be obsessed with and reduced to. It does not matter how many advances we make in the corporate world, or how smart we are, or how powerful we are. We must still achieve the unattainable happiness of our own perfection; and Dove will help get us there because Dove is different. Except that it’s not, it’s just another marketing campaign. It’s just trying to tear us down.

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