Stop saying people look better without makeup

Carleen Loney/THE CONCORDIAN @shloneys

It’s not the compliment you think it is.

If you’re a heavy makeup wearer too, you’ve probably been told this before: “You look better without makeup,” or even “why all this foundation? You have beautiful skin!” No shit, Sherlock. That’s because I’m also interested in skincare.

Even though that’s what I wish I could answer on the daily, most of the time, I have to be polite and just take the “compliment.”

But is it really a compliment?

Let’s start from the very beginning: beauty standards. The expectation for women to look a certain way starts young. As soon as we get some sort of awareness of our assigned gender role, we immediately admire “pretty” princesses and our version of playing becomes giving a makeover to anyone that dares to say yes.

It’s not hard to see: women and girls are taught at a young age that beauty matters. From the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz to Ursula from The Little Mermaid, we are taught that ugly equals bad.

Then, in our pre-teen years, we already get influenced by the very clever marketing of the beauty industry that preys on our insecurities.

So, naturally, makeup piques our interest. Some stick with it until adulthood, some experiment and decide it’s not for them. That’s okay.

Even though I’ve come to terms with it, it’s still sometimes hard for me to admit it: I cannot deny that my interest in makeup does stem from patriarchal ideas.

This is why when a man, out of all people, wants to imply that “I’d look better without all that makeup,” it drives me insane.

And I say that not to generalize, but because I genuinely only ever get that from men, when other women will actually compliment my makeup skills.

For people who don’t understand, I’ll put it simply: it’s rude. I put effort into something to then be told that you wish I hadn’t. Why? Because it doesn’t serve you in the way you want it to, assuming it was supposed to when it certainly wasn’t?

That’s without considering the fact that women throughout their entire lives have been told what to do, what to wear, what to say and how to act just to benefit men in society.

Even though the saying might come from good intentions, let’s not forget that nobody owes you a positive response when you make an unsolicited comment about their physique.

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