While it’s true that much of mainstream Western society enforces beauty norms, including the wearing of makeup, there is a backlash against wearing visible cosmetics (and I do mean that — wear only “natural” shades well-blended into your skin and no one will say anything).
Women and people seen as women often find it hard catch a break from the body-policing that permeates so much of society. Dare to affix bold colors to your face and people may take your look as an invitation to tell you about their feelings.
And make no mistake: This is about their feelings and has nothing to do with the made-up person’s choice of facial attire.
Make-Up Is Killing You Softly
A lot of people seem to think that makeup is going to kill you. Various past scandals have not helped that reputation, of course, but there’s something about cosmetics that really makes people angry beyond legitimate issues with makeup from the past. Take, for example, radioactive ingredients in cosmetics. They were most certainly a thing, once upon a time. Yet somehow, people wearing watches (which also used to utilize radioactive materials) aren’t subjected to the same level of public scoldings as people who wear makeup are. Even more curiously, the women who made those watches eventually died due to their labor, not because of their lipstick. Maybe, just maybe, people have a problem with things traditionally considered “feminine” rather than all potentially poisonous things.
Sexist biases and double-standards aside, there is also the issue of people simply not understanding how the world works. If you want to see just how little people understand about the concepts of toxicity, chemicals, and poisons, go no further than people whose preferred avenue of pearl-clutching is about cosmetics.
While the Internet has made it very easy for strangers to barge into femme lives to fear-monger on such matters, it has also made it easier for everyone to find better information. I may be no scientist, but I try to rely on someone who is for my understanding on matters of chemistry and biology, like the good folks over at The Beauty Brains, rather than freak out about the Scary Ingredient Flavor of the Week.
Everything is toxic at the right level. The dose, rather than some inherent property of a particular substance, makes the poison.
I Don’t Find That Attractive
There are people who wear makeup to make themselves look more normatively attractive or think that they aren’t fit for viewing by society without a full face on. The beauty norms that lead them to do so are worth tackling and dismantling, certainly. What isn’t true is that all people who wear makeup do it to look more conventionally attractive.
Furthermore, it’s highly unlikely that a made-up person has chosen every aspect of their look specifically with any person in mind. Sure, I sometimes goth it up when I know I’m going to see my partner or wear a certain lip shade to convey a certain mood or pick a look that works well for the format on which I will be seen. I do sometimes wear makeup to be seen; sometimes, it’s so that I will be seen less.
What I don’t ever do is wear it to please every person or even most people.
You’re So Much Prettier Without It
This is the even more evil cousin of the “You look bad and you should feel bad”-type comment. If someone has never bothered to tell me that I look beautiful when I’m not wearing makeup, but they go out of their way to tell me that I’m “beautiful as I am” or “look better without it” when I do, then they are using a “compliment” to criticize me. Weaponized “compliments” are not genuine compliments; they are an excuse to be a jerk about someone else’s choices. A barb dressed up in civil language is still a barb.
And really, how many people realize how much skill, time, and make-up goes into the “natural” look?
If I Don’t Like It, No One Can
This is the sentiment at the heart of every snide dig at someone’s makeup. The person making the comment thinks that their opinion is not only relevant to the other person’s face, but also that their opinion is so important that it ought to be use to wrest the other person’s choices from them.