Body Issues: Makeup Edition

I wear makeup.

Yeah, not often, and not much, but I do.

I love makeup. I love how foundation evens out my skintone, and how eyeliner makes my eyes stand out. I love how lip colour, whether in lip liner (I use lip liner to fill out my lips sometimes) or in lipstick, fulls my lips. I spent a year looking for the right nude lip colour that matches my lips perfectly which still fills my lips, but looks completely natural. I love how blush and bronzer highlight my cheekbones - the first MUA (makeup artist) I ever worked with said to me, "you have nicely defined cheekbones. Makes it easy to work on you." I always get that warm glow remembering it.

I put on makeup without fail for every modeling shoot, even nudes. I have specific foundation that is waterproof for landscape nudes, especially when mucking about in water.


Here's the thing.

Painting my face this way is really just another way of making myself look as conventionally attractive as possible. It does play into common patriarchal tropes. It does make me more available for admiration from the Male Gaze. Makeup is a form of decorating one's self, and the usual reason for such decoration has, historically, been for attracting sexual partners.

I used to hate makeup with a fiery passion. Why should I make myself look more attractive just for someone else's benefit? I certainly didn't like putting on makeup. And in the Malaysian weather? Die first.

But for some reason, makeup in Malaysia is necessary. I remember reading in an etiquette column a lot of advice for young people looking for careers, and women had to wear makeup, foundation at the very least. I didn't really have a problem with foundation, but it still felt unfair - why should women have to wear makeup, and men don't?

And there was the fear that if I did use makeup, I would be Doin It Rong.

What Not To Wear, bastion of conventional prettiness, helped me with that last bit, and as of a few years ago, I was wearing makeup with some confidence, although not on a regular basis.

I still don't wear makeup on a regular basis. I don't wear makeup clubbing, for example, because I get sweaty at clubs and it is... not good for makeup. I'll wear makeup for special occasions, though, but not everyday wear. I know, Five Minute Face, I can totally do the Five Minute Face, I usually don't think about it.

And once I wore it out and it was a drag hearing my BFF tell me, "You look so pretty when you wear makeup! You should do it more often! You should make yourself look nice more often!"

Yeah, well, howabtno.

Look, my makeup? Is for me. Every sparkly eyeshadow, every purple-pink lipshade, every bright daring red shade, every Pride rainbow across my eyelids, every brushstroke, every line of pencil, every lip stainer -

It's all mine, for me. And for the photographers I work with, but mostly for me, since I do model for my own pleasure.

I don't think I've ever worn makeup specifically to attract a male, and I don't think I've worn makeup to look professional. I may wear makeup to impress, but those events are far and few in between.

And by golly, when I do make up to impress? I'm pretty fucking impressive. And I feel I've done enough reflection on my makeup use to know that when I wear it, I'm definitely not buying into the Patriarchy(tm).

I love makeup.


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