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Can I Like Makeup and Still Be a Feminist?

Can I Like Makeup and Still Be a Feminist?

I’m 15. I’m a feminist, and I’m proud of that. I also really love makeup, however, and I’m not that proud of it. I feel a weird pang of shame every time I obsess over a new Glossier release, or spend too much money at Sephora. Can I be a real feminist and still wear—and love—makeup?

Take one look at Gloria Steinem and her mile-long lashes and flawless contouring and glossy blowout. There’s your answer. 

A million gender studies papers have been written about the intersection of feminism and makeup, and it continues to be a controversial topic. True, looks shouldn’t matter, and yes, unfair beauty standards are incredibly oppressive. But while the cosmetics industry contributes to the never-ending goal for perfection, makeup can be fun. It can help you express your inner self on the outside. It can help you experiment with who you are and how you want to look.

In her bestselling novel On Beauty, Zadie Smith wrote, “Any woman who counts on her face is a fool.” But she didn’t stop there. Last month, Smith made headlines when she told audiences that, upon noticing that her 7-year-old daughter was “spending a lot of time looking in mirrors,” gave her a 15-minute limit. She said, “I explained it to her in these terms: you are wasting time, your brother is not going to waste any time doing this. Every day of his life he will put a shirt on, he’s out the door and he doesn’t give a shit if you waste an hour and a half doing your make-up.”

She has a point. The guys in your life probably don’t spend tons of time obsessing over their looks, let alone making sure their makeup is perfect.

Establishing a skincare routine and finding a makeup look (or many!) that works for you are important ways to feel good about yourself. Feeling your best can give you the confidence you need to handle the day. And hey, sometimes we really need that! 

Like Zadie, we don't recommend spending an hour in front of the mirror, looking at your so-called imperfections, when you could be doing pretty much anything else: practicing piano, journaling, homework, or just hanging out. Basically living your life. We're not telling you that you *need* to pull an Alicia Keys and go sans makeup 24/7, or limit your front-of-mirror time to 15 minutes a day (face masks take forever!). Just make sure you spend more energy worrying about a different kind of glass—shattering the glass ceiling. 

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