The Cheyenne Hour: Mask on, mask off — Feminism and Makeup


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Makeup has been around for a looooong time. Dating back to its first conception with the Egyptians, who utilized copper ore and other natural resources to produce cosmetics, makeup has been a source of aesthetic beauty for many people.

From everyday life to all screens large and small, someone has their face beat. Makeup plays a very important role in my life, and I feel very complete with my best and full face on. But you always have dry-scalped haters — and in this case, unmoisturized usurpers — trying to steal makeup away and making it something negative. There are a lot of issues within the world of makeup, and I’m here to shed the light, spill the tea and contour and highlight all the bulls**t.

Lack of Color Inclusion and Improper Color-Matching

As a makeup aficionado, I find myself frustrated by the limited number of shades for people of color. Foundation is one of the most crucial yet difficult parts of makeup because you must find ways for it to match with your skin tone as closely as possible. I find it quite interesting to see that for lighter skin there are shades from sea to shining sea.

However, I notice that most companies only have certain shades for people with darker skin, and a lot of times these shades have a yellow base to them as well. It's 2017 — it makes no damn sense to me that we have the same chestnut and walnut-themed colors for people with “darker skin.”

To take this a step further, color-matching, or the process of matching makeup to your skin tone, can also be quite problematic.

I have red undertones in my skin, so not only is green color corrector my best friend, but it’s really not my saving grace when it comes to finding the perfect foundation.

I’ve been in several situations where the makeup associates who have lighter skin than me would color match me a shade or two darker than what I am, and I also noticed that in certain cases with people with similar skin tones to mine I get matched a shade or two lighter. At first I used to side-eye some of these associates in these moments because I took it personally. My goal is to look natural and not like a powdered-wig ass Baroque-period debutante. I don’t think that all makeup counters fully prepare and train their staff on how to service clients of color which in turn makes it difficult to really get the right makeup.

However, with taking a step back I’ve realized that many companies, especially those that house drugstore-brand makeup, are focused on a certain customer base and don’t really make a full spectrum of colors for everyone. And those that do have a full spectrum of products are hella expensive.

Makeup and the Deception Rhetoric

There has been a renaissance of the “natural look” in the past few years. A movement that was restarted by Alicia Keys, the goal is to remain as natural as possible without makeup and other aesthetic additives.

However, people, mostly men, have taken this out of context and morphed it into something to negate female freedom. A lot of men will say that women don’t need to wear makeup, and that they wouldn’t feel the need to do so if they loved themselves.

Another statement would be how men generalize that they don’t like women who sport makeup. In my own personal experience, there have been many a time where a man has approached me about my makeup and asked why I felt the need to wear makeup, and I simply responded to them by asking “Well why do you feel the need to be in my face with this dumb question?”

As you can see I have several bones to pick with all of these statements. First and foremost, the linking of aesthetics, self-worth and self-love needs to go out the damn window. For the longest time, the concept of beauty has been developed into something that has been very detrimental to self-esteem and confidence, especially for women.

The media has shaped makeup into a tool for patriarchy to further control the way women look. By saying that women don’t need makeup is just another way to say, “We, as men, want to control how you look because you doing so gives you more freedom from oppression.”

Also, we most note that the notion of women wearing “too much makeup” is a manifestation of the deception rhetoric and how women are perceived as deceptive beings, therefore makeup is another outlet to further deceptive behavior.

Excuse me, good sir, but I’m wearing makeup, not a V for Vendetta mask. I wear makeup for myself, and you must have been too blinded by my highlighter to see where I even asked for your opinion on this matter.

The Solution and What Makeup Means to Me

With anything plagued by patriarchy, the solutions are never concrete, but there are things that are ongoing and require much thought, conversation and mobilization. In terms of color-matching and makeup inclusion, what I find easier for me is to buy makeup from black-owned businesses.

In drug-store makeup, Black Radiance is a W O N D E R F U L and inexpensive brand that carries a lot of variations in shades for women of color. Something that’s a little bit on the pricier side is Juvia’s Place, which is also black-owned, but they have eyeshadow palettes that are highly pigmented and long-lasting.

In terms of color-matching, I always try to go for someone with a similar skin tone as me, and if that person isn't available then I will go to someone who has experience. After I find a foundation that goes well for me, I bring it into other stores with me and try to match it with others to see what other foundations I can use if I feel the need to switch it up.

When it comes to men and ignorant comments about makeup, I feel that it is important to educate those that want to be educated. It is important to have these conversations about how detrimental makeup/aesthetic shaming is to feminist development, and how we can work together to further free ourselves of oppression.

From a personal standpoint, makeup has done more for me than just make me look more poppin’ than I already do. It started out as a coping technique. When I lost my father during my first semester here at Rutgers, I needed something to help me maintain my focus and to help me be kind to myself. I found peace in palettes and refuge in red lipstick. Makeup for me symbolizes freedom and creativity. It is one of the only things I can do for hours and never get frustrated or tired of it. It has become a major part of my life that continues to bring me happiness and zen.

Remember, y'all: live your life, stay moisturized and continue to slay, slay, slay.


Cheyenne Davis

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