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By: Maylene Dacanay

What Makeup Taught Me


Society’s standard of beauty has been set so high that even the tiniest flaw and imperfection can be magnified under the scrutiny of thousands and millions of judging eyes. It is even made worse by social media, where one tweet or post can put you in the center of the world’s attention which makes it difficult to feel confidence in one’s own skin. One prominent issue concerning beauty standards is the impact of makeup on people and the stigma surrounding it.


Makeup as an Art Form

There was a time when using makeup and cosmetics was considered taboo and pretentious. The first time I wore makeup was when I went to prom and that was about the only time it was “acceptable” and modest to put something on your face. When you glam up on a normal day, you are either a whore or feeling rich. Another negative connotation attached to it is the lack of confidence in your own natural skin. When you wear too much makeup, some people take it to automatically mean that you have a lot of insecurity that you want to hide. What people refuse to acknowledge is that it is an art form more than a symbol of low self-esteem. 

A trip down the history of cosmetics will reveal its intricacies and sophistication as an art work. It traces back to the ancient world, where Egyptians use “kohl” to accentuate the eyes and modify its shape. Deeper than its aesthetic role, it was used as a physical protection from the sun and insects and as a spiritual protection from evil. Even in drag world, the significance and beauty of makeup is unmatched being one of the essential elements used to transform a man into a lady. Having evolved into a powerful form of expression, it is also being used to lift up the marginalized (as in the case of drag queens/LGBTQ+) and to build up one’s brand.


Inclusion and Acceptance

Historically, the beauty industry has been discriminatory and favored those with fair skin. Thankfully, through the evolution of makeup and the attitude towards it the variety of products available to everyone became inclusive, encouraging people to embrace one’s skin no matter the type or the color. It is wonderful to see beauty companies releasing various shades of foundation and creating ads that promote inclusivity and acceptance. Hopefully, this full realization will be embedded in the industry and continue to stray far from the idea of capitalizing on one’s insecurity.


Breaking the Stigma

Probably the strongest reason for writing this whole narrative is to release the inner tension I feel whenever I face the mirror and start to apply makeup on my face. Despite having physical flaws (pimples, etc.), I feel confident enough to go outside bare-faced and brown-skinned. I can count the times I wore makeup and that’s because I don’t want to be labeled as “too much.” The statement “I only wear makeup for myself” is considered a cliché because it is the truth but if seen in a positive perspective, it can be a liberating and empowering experience. The first time I saw myself in full makeup, I was blown away by how much my eyes and lashes were beautifully accentuated and how fuller my lips look in red lipstick. 

There is nothing wrong with exploring your own creativity and highlighting your favorite physical assets. Don’t indulge yourself with the stigma built around using cosmetics because taking pride in your beauty is a way of taking care of yourself. The most important takeaway out of all this is finding confidence with or without makeup on.

Maylene is an English major who enjoys reading books and exploring the world of literature. She dreams to be a creative writer and a journalist.

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