Beauty Redefined Blog

Where Do You Draw the Line? In Beauty, What Enhances and What Oppresses?

37

 

girlsinmirrorOne of the most important and popular issues Lexie and I write and speak about is the idea of “physically Photoshopping ourselves out of reality” by changing our appearances to fit profit-driven beauty ideals. Because of this unique aspect of our work, we get asked regularly what is acceptable regarding beauty — is makeup OK? Is hair dye appropriate? What about leg-shaving or Botox or breast augmentation or manicures? When people see pictures of us or come to a speaking engagement, they see that we do, in fact, wear makeup and shave our legs. We make conscious decisions regarding our beauty routines and have been careful to take inventory of the things that do or do not serve us, which includes foregoing aspects of those routines when we feel it is necessary.

Taking inventory of our own beauty-related choices is crucial in a world that generates new “flaws” for women every week. Insufficient eyelashes? Unsightly underarms? Too-pale skin? Too-dark skin? The list is endless. Consciously answering this question for yourself is an extremely useful exercise. You can take inventory in your own mind, with no one to answer to but yourself. We ask that you do not use this a platform for blaming, shaming or hating on anyone else.

  • Could anything be taken out of your routine? Is anything unnecessary?
  • Do you rely too heavily on any aspect of your beauty routine to look like or feel like “yourself?”
  • Is there anything you especially enjoy or appreciate about your beauty routine? 
  • What standards have you set (or would you like to set) for your own appearance-related routines and choices?
  • Where do (or could) you draw the line between what is “physically Photoshopping yourself out of reality” and what is appropriate for you?
  • Are there any future options for physical “enhancement” or cosmetic procedures that you plan to forego in order to be an example of a more beautiful reality?

Critically and consciously answering these questions for yourself is particularly necessary as we go through major body changes, like having babies, or gaining and losing weight. Aging in today’s mediated world brings a set of beauty expectations unmatched in history. Pressure to prevent and erase any signs of aging is a cultural expectation force-fed to us by media at every turn. Olay, the anti-aging skin care brand owned by Procter & Gamble, spent more than ANY OTHER COMPANY in the U.S. on advertising in 2011. That’s more than any company in any industry. They spent $357 million, up 8% from 2010, and led P&G to its massive total revenue of $82.6 billion that year*.

A 2009 Oil of Olay eye cream ad featuring then-59-year-old Twiggy — one of the world’s biggest modeling/fashion icons for more than a decade.

Olay’s misleading (a.k.a. lie-filled) advertising bombards us with ageless, wrinkle-free, pore-free, glowing “older” women who have been freed from the ugliness of aging by the company’s magic creams. The UK’s advertising watchdog was smart enough to pull Olay’s ads for being “misleading,” including this eye cream ad featuring Twiggy, after hundreds of complaints were gathered by Democrat MP Jo Swinson in 2009. Amazing! Obviously, Olay isn’t alone in this anti-aging lie crusade, but their new title as #1 advertising spender in all categories makes them a useful and familiar example.

Oh Olay.

Getting older isn’t the only thing that puts a woman at risk for feeling pressure to physically photoshop herself out of reality. Procedures and products that were unthinkable just a decade or two ago are now so commonplace that they start to feel like a full-on expectation for women of all ages. Whether it’s eyelash-growing, cellulite-lasering, chemical hair-straightening or makeup-tattooing, our expensive, painful and risky “beauty” options are endless. Plastic surgery is the most profitable industry in the U.S., and Botox is the No. 1 cosmetic treatment, with patients getting younger and younger. In just the last decade, there has been a 446 percent increase in cosmetic procedures in the U.S., which raked in $12 billion in 2010 alone.

But what about totally taken-for-granted ways we physically photoshop ourselves every day? Where do you draw the line between what is acceptable, appropriate and harmless and what is oppressive and harmful? From makeup and tanning to hair weaves and regular manicures, what everyday beauty choices do we make without even thinking twice? Since Lexie and I get asked so regularly about why we wear makeup or how we maintain a balance between enjoying some aspects of beauty and fashion, I’m offering a variation of the response we usually give as a way to provide context for your own thoughts.

I respond somewhere along these lines:

It’s an important issue that each woman really has to confront for herself regarding where to draw the line between what’s oppressive, harmful, “physically Photoshopping,” etc., and what is acceptable, comfortable and appropriate. Lexie and I both wear makeup (although quite minimal generally) and enjoy fashion and shopping. We shave our legs, pluck our eyebrows and love clothes/jewelry shopping. For both of us, those commonplace routines fit in with our paradigms of what is appropriate — though we both readily acknowledge the double-standard that exists between male and female expectations.

I think there are two important points of this issue I’ve considered:

1) the reality we’ve grown up in and are surrounded by, where makeup and leg-shaving is a routine and unquestioned expectation. I started both in 7th grade and it became part of my regular routine. In many ways, that choice to wear makeup is influenced by cultural pressures like looking put-together and well-kempt (which unfortunately affects opportunities for speaking engagements and media appearances in some cases) and even attracting dating partners. I readily acknowledge that I am influenced by that pressure. However, to make sure I’m not relying on makeup to make me look like “myself” or letting it stop me from going out in public, I often go makeup-free to places like the gym, the pool, and shopping just to keep myself in check. I skip wearing eyeliner regularly to  make sure I’m not relying on it. I stopped highlighting my hair more than a year ago because I realized I don’t need to have light blonde hair in order to be myself or feel good. In that vein, I do consider my role in physically Photoshopping myself and what influence that has on others. Every guy I’ve dated and friend I’ve ever had has seen me with no makeup and looking pretty dang real on a regular basis, and my future children will see my own reality more than anyone as I try to set that example for them.

Lindsay posted our uplifting sticky notes all over NYC, including this Broadway theater vanity mirror. Click the image to see more designs for sale.

I posted our sticky notes all over NYC, including this Broadway theater vanity mirror. Click the image to see more designs for sale.

2) The other thing I’ve strongly considered on this issue is the “if beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrong” slogan that we’ve use so frequently. For me, I do avoid the beauty routines and procedures that hurt me. I use that as a measure by which to judge any appearance-related options. The makeup I wear and the other beauty routines I engage in do not hurt me, so they don’t cross that mental line I’ve drawn. For some, my line might be way too strict, and for others it will be way too far into oppressive patriarchal forces territory. For now, I’m comfortable with my own choices, but I’m fully in support of anyone who chooses to forego beauty routines and expectations in their own lives! I also don’t blame or shame anyone who makes choices that don’t reflect my own on the other end of the spectrum — like cosmetic surgery or other procedures. Our research shows women’s perceptions of their appearances, and the choices they make because of those perceptions, are heavily influenced by profit-driven beauty ideals and objectifying media that leads girls and women to self-objectify, or view themselves from an outsider’s perspective. We must consider these powerful influences on our own choices, as well as how those forces inevitably influence others’ choices.

Not everyone is going to agree with where I draw the line or my reasoning,and that’s OK. We don’t need to approve of each other’s choices or police any one else’s personal beauty routines. That’s not helpful. What is helpful is having an open discussion with ourselves or even our loved ones about our own individual choices. These are important questions every woman must consider, and we have to do it in advance of increasing pressures (with age and beauty “innovations” becoming more commonplace and expected in some circles) in order to be prepared with our own solid stance on how to avoid physically Photoshopping ourselves out of reality. Again, I’ll pose these questions for your own personal consideration:

  • Could anything be taken out of your routine? Is anything unnecessary?
  • Do you rely too heavily on any aspect of your beauty routine to look like or feel like “yourself?”
  • Is there anything you especially enjoy or appreciate about your beauty routine? 
  • What standards have you set (or would you like to set) for your own appearance-related routines and choices?
  • Where do (or could) you draw the line between what is “physically photoshopping yourself out of reality” and what is appropriate for you?
  • Are there any future options for physical “enhancement” or cosmetic procedures that you plan to forego in order to be an example of a more beautiful reality?

For further insight into this topic, please read these important pieces:

The Case of the Disappearing Women Over 40

Physically Photoshopping Ourselves Out of Reality

More than a Body? PROVE IT.

You Had a Baby? THIS is How You Get Your Body Back

* Source: http://adage.com/article/datacenter-advertising-spending/100-leading-national-advertisers/234882/

  1. Amy Baldwin
    Amy Baldwin07-18-2012

    Although I agree with the concept of this article, at the same time I can’t take it too seriously as a 47 year-old reading what twenty-something year olds are telling me concerning how I should groom myself. Until you have gone through the physical changes that we have, you really cannot be an expert on how aging women are to take care of themselves. I’m more likely to listen to women in their late forties and on versus young women who are still enjoying the benefits of their youth. I don’t participate in these photoshopping techniques, but I would still like to enhance my beauty in an appropriate manner. I feel that you expect us to look like old women after reading this article. I would be interested to hear what you have to say about this topic in 25 years.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined07-18-2012

      Amy, here’s an excerpt from the original “physically photoshopping” post I wrote: “The pressure to Photoshop ourselves into hopeful conformity with beauty ideals is intense, and backlash against female aging is unbelievable. At 25, I frankly don’t yet grasp the real pain and anxiety that undoubtedly accompanies aging and its effects on female faces and bodies that become invisible and worthless in some ways to a society that prizes youthful beauty over all else.” I would never tell you how you should groom yourself, nor did I ever claim to be an expert on “how aging women are to take care of themselves.” However, I’m finishing a PhD in media studies and body image, which does qualify me to comment on the pressures women feel to fit profit-driven beauty ideals.

    • Maddie
      Maddie08-22-2012

      Amy, I would encourage you to read the entire post again slowly, without preconceived notions of what you might find there. At no point in the entire article does Beauty Redefined police how women, old or young, should groom themselves. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of what they’re preaching. I think you missed the following quote in your first reading:

      “Not everyone is going to agree with where I draw the line or my reasoning, and that’s OK. We don’t need to approve of each other’s choices or police any one else’s personal beauty routines. That’s not helpful.”

  2. Alyssa
    Alyssa07-18-2012

    Since becoming a Mary Kay consultant, I have thought a lot about this. I think about whether I am contributing to the problem or not. For the most part, I don’t feel bad about the work I do. For one reason, I work to help women feel beautiful! For me, skin care is important and when your skin feels nice, feels good, looks good, you feel good. Any of the clients I have had, I never pressure them to use anything they aren’t interested in. I try to give them the knowledge about skin care and then let them decide on what to do. Another thing is the products are good and non invasive. I will embrace aging as much as I can. I don’t really focus much on makeup, mostly because I’m not as comfortable with it because I know what works for me, but not as much for others. I love makeup and I love to play around with colors and all of that, but I don’t have to wear it everyday. Besides, I hardly expect a guy to notice what makeup I’m wearing. I’m still single and I hope that whoever I marry sees the real me and all the different shades. I want him to see my flaws, see a bare face, and see me dolled up for special occasions. When I make an effort to look nice- to dress up I let others know that I think they are important and special. There are a lot of ways to do that. Another reason I like doing Mary Kay is that it empowers women to succeed and soar as high as they would like. And as my business card states, “Faith first, family second, career third” This is a motto many of the women who work for this company have adopted and that is what I look to. I honestly care a lot about helping women feel comfortable in their own skin, with their own shape and their own smile. If a woman feels confident, beautiful, and important, then I have done my job. I really want to make an effort at complimenting women- helping them know how truly beautiful they are on the inside and out. When your gorgeous inside and you feel gorgeous – everyone will see it.

  3. Kate
    Kate07-18-2012

    I find myself questioning more and more, not just the things we do to be beautiful but WHY we feel we must be beautiful in the first place. Why is it such an important thing? Aren’t the things I DO with my life more important than my looks?
    Anyway, I like clothes. I like jewelry. I like a nice dark auburn hair color. I will wear light makeup (mascara and tinted lip balm) occasionally, but usually not. I won’t do anything painful or dangerous, even if the danger is small. I won’t risk my life for my looks. I try to find cruelty free products that aren’t going to give me cancer. But generally, I can honestly say I spend far less time thinking about my appearance than I ever have before in my life.

  4. Sarah Silvester
    Sarah Silvester07-18-2012

    I think about these issues a lot. I don’t have a problem with makeup, hair dying, waxing and beauty treatments at all when I see other women who use them regularly, however I can’t quite get a peace about it for myself. For my wedding day I dyed my hair blonde again (I was a blonde as a child/early teenager), and I did love it – but it was hugely expensive and took 4 1/2 hours. Since then I let it grow out and have had a should I/shoudn’t I debate about hair colour since. I don’t like products or treatments that turn me into someone else. For my wedding I felt like inside I was a blonde, so I wanted to be a blonde for that day. But now, 8 years and 2.5 kids later, I don’t think that’s me anymore. I struggle with makeup because I’m not that confident in applying it. I would like to be able to do my makeup excellently to enhance who I am for a special occasion, but I think I’m kind of on the right track to stick with just a basic concealer to cover the grey bags under my eyes that being a sleep deprived mama gives me. I guess I’m lucky to have smooth skin naturally but by no means am I perfect. I just can’t quite work out whether if I made more of an “effort” with my appearance I’d be either a. Caring for myself and respecting myself, or b. Selling out to the typical and idealised versions of beauty that we are fed every day in the media.
    I read an amazing blog on this recently by Jonalyn Fincher from http://www.soulation.org/jonalynblog, I highly recommend it for those debating these issues – she starts by talking about the movie “The Hunger Games”:
    “In the movie, Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen hears Peeta Mellark explain that he doesn’t want the games, even the killing he may do to change who he is.
    “I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into something I’m not . . . If I’m going to die I want to still be me.”…
    We all dress up for the show.
    We all have different “me’s”……”
    She goes on to describe an instance where she straightened her extremely curly hair as as surprise for her husband when he arrived home from a trip, and that he walked right past her as he didn’t recognise her and he didn’t like it that much either. Here are more of her thoughts:
    “To dress up to make an impression, but not to conceal the soul within. Another theory of mine is that the more we try to imitate another person’s look, the more bland we become. But, the more we look and act as we were created to be… the more one-of-a-kind unique we become. The more we’re the “only person” like us in the universe…….
    For those women who are slowly learning to put the flat iron down and embrace their waves or curls or frizzy bigness, I salute you. You haven’t let the games change who you are.”
    It’s worth reading the whole thing. (http://soulation.org/jonalynblog/2012/03/who-do-i-look-like-listening-to-the-hunger-games.html) I’m set on keeping my hair as it is for now, and I repeat to myself “You’re not letting the games change you.”
    I’m not less feminine or less of a woman for choosing not to dye or style my hair or to wear make-up daily and remember to pluck my eyebrows. My face and body don’t define me as a woman.
    This is an important discussion and good on you guys for starting it.

  5. Madeline
    Madeline07-18-2012

    I am an 18-year-old girl, who, fresh out of high school, has just started to become aware of just how much we young girls buy in to society’s guidelines of how we should look. I am by no means “wise”, but I pat myself on the back every time I think about how far I have come from that freshmen girl who couldn’t even leave the house without thick black eyeliner on. This year, due to high-stress school situations and an expanded idea of what beauty means to me, I went makeup free a lot more than I have in the past. So much so that I have found that when I do put as much makeup on as I used to wear, I don’t even feel like myself. I feel like I can’t see “me” under there. I think it all boils down to the reasons why you do what you do in your beauty routine–if you get your hair dyed because you like being a blonde, by all means, dye your hair! But if you routinely spend money you don’t have to change your appearance just because you think that is what is expected of you, then I think that’s when it gets out of hand. I think it all starts from within, like pretty much every other dillemma we have in our lives–once I was confident enough in myself and my friendships (and knew that my relationships weren’t based on how I looked from day to day) I was able to go to school without makeup on and know that nothing would be different. That to me was very freeing. I even started a “White Tee, Makeup Free” day at my school every month as part of my senior project, where I encouraged all the girls to be a “blank canvas” for a day. I was overwhelmed with the number of people who told me how much this project positively affected their daughter/sister/relative because it was the first time she had ever gone out in public without makeup on. I know it may seem small and nothing compared to what older women are dealing with, but I think the important thing is to do what you can, where you are. As a high school girl who has trouble seeing far into the future and understanding the media’s influence, what may seem like such a little thing to some I applaud as a major step of bravery.

    That being said, yes, I wear makeup sometimes, and I shave, pluck my eyebrows, paint my nails, and love fashion. But I have had the revelation recently that I need to focus on doing these things for myself, and myself only. Fashion & all of those other things make ME happy, and I don’t care about following trends. I think that is a major distinction that needs to be made!

  6. Sumiko
    Sumiko07-18-2012

    I do a good bit of public speaking, presenting, training and teaching as part of my job, and I feel the pressure to “look professional” in a certain way when I’m in that capacity. Although I’d rather go makeup-free and am frankly not all that interested in having a hairstyle to speak of, when I’m at work I feel that expectation to conform to a certain standard. On weekends and vacations though, I usually have a two-minute beauty routine consisting of washing my face and dragging a comb through my hair. It’s definitely an interesting question, particularly when you start talking about how appearances may or may not affect a woman’s professional life. There are even some days that I downright enjoy wearing makeup.
    I draw the line at any procedure that I can’t perform myself, which includes any kind of injection, surgery, tattoos, and well…some kinds of waxing. Good question, and I’m enjoying reading the discussion, too!

    • Sumiko
      Sumiko07-18-2012

      I should add, too, that my beauty routines have more to do with a personal feeling of cleanliness than anything else.

  7. Solange Villarroel
    Solange Villarroel07-18-2012

    This is a wonderful and very important discussion. Thank you for prompting me, I feel very inspired to share my thoughts and feelings with those who are interested.. Firstly I would like to say that this discussion needs to be put into it’s appropriate context which really includes the deeper repercussions that empowering women has on the global community.
    I’m 36years old and a mother of 3 girls and I mentor teenage girls in the small town I live in. It is of utmost importance to me that ‘I walk my talk’ and be a role model of a woman who doesn’t define herself and her femininity by her looks. I enjoy aesthetic beauty in all it’s natural forms and I love adorning my body with jewelry and clothes. But I do it out of celebration of the feminine and our true strength and beauty as women on this earth, I do not do it because society expects this of me. I feel that we have come to a time where we need to redefine the feminine. What is the feminine principle within us all, both men and women, what does it mean to be feminine and what is the definition of beauty?. I feel that our knowledge of these basic and fundamental principles and our definitions of beauty have become so distorted throughout time by media, by patriarchal systems, by our own confusion and submissiveness that we need to be brave and start redefining ourselves and who we are rather than passively accepting what we are told to think. For me these definitions involve self love and self acceptance which in turn leads to loving others and living compassionately. It takes a brave woman to really make a stand and wear her hair frizzy and not wear make-up or remove her hair. It’s this kind of bravery, this acceptance of our ‘natural’ beauty, that will help redefine feminine beauty on a grander scale. It is this kind of courage and self love…..self love, that will be the powerful change that we are asking for as women. It is in these acts of bravery that we will start becoming the humble, loving and empowered women we wish to be in the world and that this world needs us to be. The deeper repercussions of this are far reaching and much more important than we realise. The empowered feminine is what this planet needs once again in order for so many other distortions and global disasters and discordant realities to be rectified. The harmony between the masculine and the feminine must be restored on a global scale and within ourselves to ensure that our children inherit a world they deserve………..Thank you for listening to my rant. I hope it is thought provoking for some of you.

  8. Solange Villarroel
    Solange Villarroel07-18-2012

    p.s.The return of the Feminine
    http://workingwithoneness.org/the-feminine/book-description?q=the-feminine/book-excerpts

  9. Kristin
    Kristin07-19-2012

    I think our reasons for wearing make-up can be broken into two basic categories:

    1.) To enhance natural beauty that you already see in yourself
    2.) To mask flaws that you see in yourself

    The first is all about the positive – you already see yourself as beautiful, and make-up is just icing on the cake. When you feel that way, you’re not worried about what you look like without make-up – in fact, you probably frequently DON’T wear make-up (and are more likely to embrace make-up free activities like swimming, overnight camping, exercising). You are coming from a place of confidence, not fear. Make-up takes it’s proper place as something fun, not necessary.

    The second is really negative (and in my opinion, harmful). When we wear make-up to mask our true faces, we are motivated by shame, not confidence. We see the make-up as beautiful, not ourselves! We might sacrifice courteous punctuality because of our refusal to leave the house without being “done-up.” We might sacrifice certain activities (like exercising) because we’re afraid of how the sweat might affect our make-up. If we find that the lack of make-up causes anxiety, shame, or self-consciousness, then we are doing something wrong.

  10. Holly S
    Holly S07-19-2012

    I think you have to look at WHY you are using the product. I wore make up when I was just out of high school and in college, more to hide behind that any other reason. Then I turned 21 and wore make up to go out, I learned how to play with it and make it part of me and who I wanted to be. Now, the older I get, the more allergic to products I become, the less I wear. I leave the makeup off unless there is a special occasion. I have cut off most of my hair because I don’t want to deal with the ‘to straighten or not’ question (and because my 7 month old eats it!). However, I would NEVER give up my face and body lotions. I don’t mind wrinkles and so called blemishes, but having soft skin that isn’t itchy or dry, THAT is important to me. I’m pretty low maintenance at this point in my life…all of 30 :)…but I also know that I am lucky. I have naturally darker eyelashes that are long-ish, I have been told I have pretty skin, and really don’t need a lot of makeup. My mom is 60 and looks maybe 50 but she wears make up daily because she has eyelashes that are so blonde that you can’t see them and she doesn’t feel pretty without makeup. She wears it only to highlight herself, not to mask or hide behind.
    I also like painting my nails, but I do it for myself, and I think that is the biggest part of this question. If you are doing it for YOURSELF, then there isn’t necessarily a line. If you are doing it for OTHERS, then you need to find that line and trace it back to where you left yourself behind.

  11. Kristen
    Kristen07-19-2012

    I love what Kristin said! I was thinking the same thing– a lot of it has to do with why you choose to do what you do.
    To add to that, my own personal make-up philosophy has always (well, mostly– a couple of those teen years not so much) been that when you wear make-up, it shouldn’t look like you’re wearing make-up. Of course, you can tell if someone is wearing mascara or not, that’s not what I mean. I mean that it should just enhance the beauty that you already have/are. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll realize that when others (or you) try to use make-up to cover up (the saying, “I need to go put my face on” comes to mind), that that’s exactly what it looks like– a cover up. You don’t look like you anymore.
    I’ve loved and learned a lot about make-up throughout my life and came to the conclusion that less really is more a long, long time ago. And when I realized that looking more natural was so much better (and easier, for that matter!), I felt so empowered to just be me!
    I like the Beauty Redefined statement that beauty shouldn’t hurt, and I believe that also applies to your wallet. There is no reason that it should cost a lot of money to enhance your natural beauty. Back before I discovered Beauty Redefined and had my own beauty revolution, I tried cosmetics from all across the board (some really cheap, some very much not cheap) and I came to the conclusion that most of those expensive products are just hype and a pretty container…i.e. a waste of money.
    So basically, my views are that make-up should just enhance your natural beauty, and it shouldn’t hurt your wallet. I personally don’t wear make-up about half of the time, and when I do I use it sparingly. And I can honestly say that I’ve never felt as beautiful/ attractive/ comfortable as I did (and still do) when I decided to change my make-up routine to fit those two principles. I can’t tell you how many compliments on my looks I’ve received since then (and I’m by no stretch of the imagination anything you’d ever see on a magazine cover). I know that other’s approval is not what should motivate anyone to look a certain way, and that’s not my point– my point is that even people who have been fed all the same lies that we all have, still recognized real beauty when they saw it because I then had the confidence to let them really see me.

    • Amanda
      Amanda07-20-2012

      “I can’t tell you how many compliments on my looks I’ve received since then (and I’m by no stretch of the imagination anything you’d ever see on a magazine cover). I know that other’s approval is not what should motivate anyone to look a certain way, and that’s not my point– my point is that even people who have been fed all the same lies that we all have, still recognized real beauty when they saw it because I then had the confidence to let them really see me.”

      I LOVE that statement. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Amanda
    Amanda07-20-2012

    The rules I set for myself are 1) keep it fun 2) nothing painful or dangerous 3) nothing goes on that makes me look unrecognizable 4) low maintenance.

    My idea of fun does NOT include lasers or hot wax, so I go the old fashioned way and use razors and foaming gel to shave (and I shave because I like how it feels, not because society would have me do so). And I still want to look like me so I just highlight the things I like about my face. I have fun with all the different ways I can do that. As part of that fun factor, low maintenance is key for me. I have three busy children; I don’t have time to stand in front of the mirror for an hour like I did when I was a teenager. Spending that much time makes me feel like a slave to the effort of “achieving beauty.” Presenting a comely appearance is important, but if I only have time to brush on mascara before heading out for a million errands, so be it. (Though, I DO make the time to put forth more effort for date nights or going to events or even just staying in with Hubby, but that’s because I want to show him I think he’s still worth that extra effort. :) It’s not something I feel he expects/demands from me. 10 years ago when we were dating, I knew he was “the one” the day I showed up makeup-free and he still told me I was beautiful.)

    For myself, I draw the beauty line at dangerous/painful procedures & products, and keeping in line with reality. I try to use natural products as much as possible to protect myself from harmful toxins. I don’t buy into the idea that we have to have porcelain skin to be beautiful. God gave me freckles and I’m okay with the reality that porcelain just isn’t in my cards. I love my freckles and wish I could go back and tell my teen-aged self to stop trying to cover them and go do something else. And I’ve made my peace with laugh lines. What is so wrong about the fact that I love to laugh and smile being evident on my face?

    When I was younger and more foolish, I used to say that for my 40th birthday I would go get a chin tuck because I was self conscious of my “chin fat.” But having a daughter really caused me to think about that choice. It’s something I would never, EVER let her do. So why would I want to do it? I want to show her that there is absolutely nothing wrong with aging. Injecting poison into her face and letting someone cut her face/body won’t make her beautiful. Loving herself is what will make her beautiful. We talk about that a lot, actually. I know she’s only five, but I’m starting early. When she watches me put makeup on and tells me she wants to do it too, I make sure I tell her (for the millionth time) that if she still wants to, I will show her how to do it when she’s old enough. And I tell her that I’m beautiful without it, but I like to do it because I think it’s fun. My hope is that having that foundation will help her ignore why media tells her she “needs” makeup.

    Bottom line: any part of my beauty regimen is there because I find it enjoyable. I like the feel of clean, soft skin and smooth legs. I like doing my hair in different ways to please myself. I exercise because it helps me to stay healthy and have enough energy to keep up with those kids, not because I’m trying to be super skinny. (Let’s face it, I’m 5’4″ with a somewhat stocky build and Danish heritage…supermodel clothing sizes are not for me. Heh.) I believe that trying my best to be healthy and loving myself as I am are a big part of what makes me beautiful.

  13. M.
    M.07-20-2012

    I am probably a minority here (and in general). I’m in my mid twenties, in law school, and I don’t wear make up. I don’t dye my hair. I don’t even shave my legs (and I swim 3 times a week!). I don’t wear perfume nor deodorant (but I shower!!). I don’t wear jewelery, except for my septum ring and earings that I never change. I decided – a long time ago – that I didn’t want to put energy and resources (time, money) into “photoshopping” myself. All these things don’t mean that I don’t care about how I look, I do. But I am not willing to go out of my way to change the way I look in order to fulfill society requirements about my image. I feel really comfortable this way. It’s empowering in a way to know that no matter what, I can go on with my daily activities. I never had problems dating someone because I wasn’t wearing make up or engaging in any kind of “beauty routine”. It’s all about how we feel about ourselves, makeup or not.

  14. Danielle
    Danielle07-20-2012

    I’m working on a Masters/PhD from Louisiana State University in Sociology and a lot of my research thus far has focused on beauty ideals in various cultural media. I’m sure you all have experienced, like me, the frustration that comes from studying and critiquing a system you are also intimately involved in! Studying these things hasn’t made me withdraw from beauty culture and practices, but it has certainly made me a more conscious beauty practicer…

    One of my most basic standards is that I do not want any of my relationships to only be surface-deep. By this I mean that I intentionally do not make myself up very often with make-up and hair products because I do not want to make friends (or boyfriends) based solely on my appearance. Our culture is very appearance driven and often I believe that is what draws us to people or causes us to judge them. I have seen previous posts that talk about being treated differently when you have put more or less beauty work into your appearance and I totally agree. In college I used to primp on purpose occasionally just to see what kinds of comments I would get and who would pay more/less attention to me based on my appearance.

    Of course I hope my friends think I’m attractive and enjoy compliments from men. BUT I never, ever want to see a look of shock on someone’s face on a day when I don’t wear makeup or do my hair and they see the “real” me…I would much rather it be the opposite–that people come to appreciate how I look naturally and then enjoy the special occasions when I put in a little more work without expecting me to maintain that kind of standard in my day to day life. Red flags for me are girl and guy “friends “who make constant judgmental comments and references to my or their or other people’s bodies/style. Another flag for dating is getting asked out by strangers or acquaintances after only having seen them a handful of times–if he doesn’t know anything about me besides how I looked last weekend and what he could gather from a five minute conversation, his motives for a date probably don’t go more than skin deep!

    Secondly, I enjoy being comfortable and I want any beauty practices I employ to be first about how I feel/think and not about how I think others might think/feel about me…I do my best to resist the looking-glass self! Impossible? Yes, to some extent. Of course I am going to wonder how other people think I look…but I try to catch myself being insecure and do my best to work against those insecurities. This issue comes up a lot with my hair. I have been consistently told by friends and family they wish I wore my hair down more often. The compliments I get when I do are nice, but I prefer the extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning and the coolness (literally, I live in Louisiana, where 7-8 months of the year it’s 75-100 degrees) of a pony tail. Plus, when I wear my hair down, I constantly worry about if it’s frizzy, sitting the wrong way, in my face, in my mouth…I’d just rather not deal with the constant agonizing! If it’s up, at least I know where it is. And I can dress up buns and pony tails with cute head bands and berets.

    As you can probably tell, I’m low maintenance as far as beauty work is concerned. I’m blessed as a graduate student to work in the university environment where I am generally free to dress as I choose and where my colleagues and students (for the most part) respect my intellect regardless of my appearance. Most days I wear no make up, a pony tail, jeans/shorts and a t-shirt. I also wear my glasses all day every day except for very special occasions because contacts are uncomfortable since I read a lot and they are expensive! I shave my arm pits a few times a week, my legs 2-3 times a week in the summer and rarely in the winter, and I pluck my eyebrows when I can find my tweezers!

    However, there are times (weekends especially, but also job interviews, work meetings, and occasionally just for the heck of it) when i enjoy getting dressed up. Dressing up for me means going through a pretty intense beauty routine. I shower and brush my hair out and then usually blow dry and straighten it so I can wear it down more comfortably. If I’m adventurous, I might blow dry it and then use a curling iron to enhance natural waves and curls. Then I’ll do a full face of makeup: concealer and foundation, blush, power, eye shadow, mascara, eye liner, and lip stick. I don’t have any problem or feel guilty when I do this–and I don’t judge women who do it more often than I do. When I dress up like this, I feel great about myself and enjoy going out looking my best according the cultural ideals. It’s nice to get compliments and feel attractive, and it’s nice to be treated well based on my appearance.

    I draw the line at painful procedures (besides eye brow plucking) and plastic surgery. I have no desire to go through painful waxing or surgery to look a certain way. However, I support surgery in cases where a deformity causes a person psychological pain or in the case of injury (such as car accidents or burns) that damage someone’s face or body. If something happened to my face, I would want doctors to do all they could to help me heal as normally and well as possibly.

    When I have children, and hopefully some girls, I want them to see all of my appearances and appreciate the variety. I enjoy being able to go without makeup and rock out in my sweatpants as much as I enjoy dressing up to go out on the weekend. I want to teach them healthy beauty practices at an appropriate age and I want them to learn from me, not from friends–I wish my mom would have been more familiar with her body and more able to help guide me when I started wanting to understand my body! I want my children (boys and girls!) to see me feel good about myself regardless of how I look and I never want them to hear me criticize my own body, theirs, or the appearance of other men and women. I want them to hear me compliment their character more than their appearance. Because as a woman that’s one of my chief desires–while the culture screams at me that my worth is in my appearance, I pray I will find people to be a part of my life who will think of me first as compassionate and intelligent–driven, enthusiastic–as a good leader and a good teacher–as a friend, girlfriend/wife, mother–and that my appearance will be secondary to my character and abilities in their esteem and in my own.

  15. Kotravai
    Kotravai07-21-2012

    Hi,

    We have already interacted. I had shared about my campaigns against sexist representation in Advertisements.

    I am from Tamil Nadu India. I have been writing on this beauty dilema, dress & boddy politics for quite a while & recently I had to taken on this inner urge for putting make up & exposing the body parts. All I wanted to point out is to criticise our likes….to question is our likes from our own choices or the demands are created? Yes ofcourse it was a hot debate. As you wrote // We don’t need to approve of each other’s choices or police any one else’s personal beauty routines. That’s not helpful. What is helpful is having an open discussion about our own individual choices that may be of benefit to others reading, or provide insight to ourselves into the reasons behind our choices. These are important questions every woman must consider, and we have to do it in advance of increasing pressures (with age and beauty “innovations” becoming more accessible) in order to be prepared with her own solid stance on how to avoid physically photoshopping herself out of reality.// is the objective.

    What I do to draw the line is I don’t shape my eye-brows, wear makeup, wax my arms & legs..on whatever platform I have to appear.

  16. A. Irene
    A. Irene08-02-2012

    I stopped shaving six months ago, and stopped wearing makeup two months ago.

    Sometimes it’s terrifying to be outside the norm and have long leg hair and–gasp–armpit hair. I don’t hide it. I still wear my skirts and shorts and tanktops with just as much gusto as ever. But every now and then, whenever someone sees my body hair and makes a bit of a face or something, there’s a very small moment of indecision that I have to stomp down.

    Ditching makeup has been a lot easier. When I was in my early teen years I refused to leave the house without at least mascara, because of my fair hair and ‘invisible’ eyelashes. I never really wore more than mascara, lipstick and occationally foundation, but now it’s all the way down to tinted lip balm. On special occations. :)

    I’m only a senior in college, so I’m very young. Maybe that gives me the opportunity to ‘afford’ to do this. But . . . it takes courage to say “I’m not going to mold myself to society’s ideals” at any age. At this point in my life I’m dating, and it’s crazy how often it seems like a competition between women on who can look the most ‘put-together’. I would want to lose that competition, on purpose. Because it’s not supposed to be a competition. I don’t want to ‘win’ a mate. I want to find a man who loves me, all of me, for everything I am–every flaw of my skin, every hair, even my funky life philosophies and the slightly unorthodox way I practice my religion.

    So I let it roll off my back when my dad makes ‘hairy hippie woman’ jokes. I let it be okay when my grandmother takes me aside and warns me that I’ll have a much harder time being taken seriously in the professional world if I don’t wear a ‘professional’ amount of makeup.

    I don’t want to have to wear a mask to be presentable to the world. I am a woman, this is my body, and I refuse to be ashamed of it.

  17. LIndsay
    LIndsay08-08-2012

    I cant stand the feeling of makeup on my face. I wear mascara and chapstick. I dont put any powder or foundation on my face. I hate the idea of wearing makeup thats an inch thick. My thing has always been I dont want there to be a vast difference between how I look with makeup and how I look without it. Some women wear so much makeup they almost look like a different person without it, and thats sad and misleading. I want people to see ME, and if I decide to go without it then its not that shocking.

    I also paint my nails and pluck my eyebrows and shave. I will sometimes wear lipstick to things like parties or weddings, bc in small doses a little makeup can be fun and something different. If I wear more makeup than my usual its usually for fun sake, rather than trying to live up to certain standards. It does make me feel a little more feminine and that may or may not be a good thing.
    I dont do anything I cant do myself, I dont wear fake nails, or fake eyelashes, or dye my hair. I also dont wear contacts. I dont change anything about my appearance, I merely enhance some things. I also dont tan. All of those things are very high maintenance to me, and I can always think of better ways to spend my time and effort than tanning or having fake nails put on. LIke I said I want to look like me. I want my man to see me for me. I also cant stand the thought of leaving makeup stains on clothes or on phones. I just get the image of a clown stuck in my head.
    The pressures on women are tough, and women themselves dont help the situation. We as women heavily judge other women.

  18. Rose
    Rose08-09-2012

    I just recently starting letting my leg hair grow out this summer, for two reasons. First, I let my leg hair grow out for a couple weeks accidentally, and then shaved it from habit. I was shocked by how numb my skin felt, especially on my calves. I hadn’t realized how much sensation was experienced simply by having leg hair. So, I decided to let it grow for enjoying how it felt; I like feeling the breezes.

    Secondly, I’ve been shaving for all my adult and adolescent life and I wanted to get to know that part of my body in its more natural state. It’s still a little strange, looking at my hairy calves and painted toenails, but it is me and I’m comfortable with myself. I did try growing out my armpit hair, too, but it pulled uncomfortably. I shave it occasionally, for myself, not for appearance.

    Since letting my leg hair grow (it has only been two months) I look at other women’s legs, out of curiosity, to see what kind of minority I’m now in. And I haven’t seen any woman with hairy legs. Maybe their hair is naturally short and blonde, but I expected to see some, even in my small town.

    I wonder if more men (not swimmers or drag queens) shaved their legs on a regular basis, it wouldn’t seem to matter that women do. But they don’t, so it is worth examining our reasons as women, individually and collectively, as to why we do. Thank you for the opportunity to do just that!

  19. megan gardner
    megan gardner08-15-2012

    I think its important to take care of ourselves and look our best but not try to CHANGE the way we look. Makeup when applied tastefully enhances the natural beauty that you already have. I occasionally highlight my hair and once in a blue moon get a mani/pedi. If I had more money I would probably get them more often. I think it is KEY here to not buy into the media lies about how certain miracle creams can get rid of wrinkles and therefore spending a large amount of money on them. I think as long as you accept your body with all its natural flaws, like cellulite, stretch marks etc. but at the same time you pamper yourself, wear cute clothes & enhance your natural beauty with make-up you are finding a great balance. And that’s what its all about in my opinion is balance and self-care. When your spending a bunch of money you don’t have on ways to CHANGE your appearance that is when you cross the line. But I see nothing wrong with ENHANCING our beauty, in fact I think its good for us to look and FEEL our best! I agree with the statement “If beauty hurts we’re doing it wrong”

  20. Amy Schmutz
    Amy Schmutz08-16-2012

    I just found the most amazing blog post on the modern world’s worship of the manniquen. Really, the whole blog is amazing and SO appropriat to the awesome conversations you have here on my favorite website, Beauty Redefined! http://theveilworker.blogspot.com/2012/03/mannequin-tribute-to-new-city-creek.html?m=1

  21. Richard
    Richard10-07-2012

    It seems a little worrying that even the author of this article feels it so necessary to ‘have’ to wear some makeup in order to look professional and presentable for speaking engagements and the like. Not that she’s not entitled to, just it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense and, if it does, probably says a lot as to how deeply ingrained soial pressures are, particularly on women.

    As a man, of course, I haven’t noticed this problem so much with myself and other men. Maybe in, say, the ’50s, it was different- being a smart and presentable man perhaps meant having to have short hair, be clean shaven, as well as having a formal suit and tie etc. Nowadays, thing have relaxed a bit- I do think it’s right for me to shave if I’m going to a job interview or special occasion, as most of the time, what resides on my chin is unkempt stubble. But even then, it’s not as important to conform to a particular ideal, as long as you look reasonably presentable. Not so much so for women, it seems, and why?

    When looking at women, then yes, there are certain things I find attractive, and I can’t pretend some forms of make-up or styling (the exact details being best left unsaid for multiple reasons!) but at the same time it’s not all that necessary, and in some cases counter-productive. Looking reasonably or entirely natural, is generally preferable to trying to be ‘too perfect’ (I don’t know if the term ‘fembot’ doesn’t sound demeaning, but it’s perhaps apt when it comes to some media imagery!) and there are some things done for the sake of fashion which don’t do anything for me, and at any rate how they can be termed ‘beauty’ is beyond me- beauty is what you are, not what you do to yourself or what is ‘in’. Likewise, something done as personal style/self-expression (or even trying to be part of a subculture like goths/punks/scene types etc.) certainly seems better than doing it to try and fulfil an ideal/cover up for insecurities or alleged flaws.

    But, at the end of the day, what I like to see on a woman is not necessarily what she feels comfortable with, and at the end of the day, how you dress or look is a matter of your personal decision. I’m mindful of course that to try and force my tastes/opinions on anyone is part of the problem, whether as part of social pressure to look a certain way, or for the fac that I could obsess over how a woman looks and not the rest of her being, or inappropriate lusts (something I have an issue with as a Christian).

    And, getting back to my original point, that we tend to focus on a woman’s physical appearance and attractiveness, especially outside of where it matters (in terms of sex/relationships/finding a mate/whatever- and even then it’s not all that should matter!) I find this even when it comes to buying records- should it as be as much of a draw if the performer is female and attractive (a good looking woman on the cover of a record or CD that’ not the performer is deceptive marketing which I loathe anyway)- which it often is for me, or should it be more about her musical ability and whether its to my tastes? Should it even matter what gender the performer is as long as the music is good? This is but one example, but it permeates all walks of life. Is it just natural, or a facet of a sex- and image-obsessed world which focusses particularly on women?

    (It is also something of a myth, pushed perhaps by popular culture and the media, that men are *only* interested in looks- we’re not. Though I’ll admit it is important, and allegedly important more so than it is for women than men, and that some of this is nature. I can’t vouch for women, of course, and it does seem the reverse is not entirely untrue, either.)

    But, to cut a long story short, it’s not all that problematic from a male perspective where you a women draw the line, but, where you draw the line is not as important to men as popular culture and the media might have one believe. And, the line popular culture, the media and all that would have you draw is equally mystifying form this man’s perspective.

    And maybe this article isn’t the best thing for a man to respond to, though I was just offering my reaction to what I’ve read.

  22. Richard
    Richard10-07-2012

    (Well, OK, I suppose you didn’t say you ‘had’ to do that, but if you acknowledge it affects getting media appearances and certain engagements, isn’t it a little counter-productive to sacrifice the ideals you’re trying to get across for the sake of an opportunity to mention them?)

  23. Crystal
    Crystal11-07-2012

    Well-said. Bravo. This is exactly how I feel about the topic. I choose to spend my money on things that are important to me rather than fancy makeup and hair products. You are doing great things, ladies. Keep it up.

  24. Serena
    Serena11-07-2012

    Dear all, first of all thank you for the constantly thought-provoking articles and inputs. I’ve never commented before, but this is a post I really feel like answering. I’m 34 now, and my (rather dull) brunette hair slowly started turning grey around ten years ago. At the timeI felt too young to put up with it and entered into the dyeing routine, which has intensified, as you can imagine, during the years. I still toy with the idea of dropping it and letting my hair turn grey, but when I tried at some point I just felt uneasy about my hair and run to my hairdresser asap. I know women who bear their grey hair with pride and deeply envy them, but somehow I can’t bring myself to emulate them.
    Second on my list comes make-up, in which I find a childish pleasure, and the odd manicure and massage. I’ve been rather plump since I was 12, but somehow I’ve always resisted dieting as a matter of principle. Indeed, this for me would be where I draw the line.

  25. Kathy
    Kathy11-07-2012

    I think there needs to be a balance between obsessing about appearance and pretending it doesn’t exist. When a person puts effort into their appearance, it shows they respect and care about themselves. Most people feel better when they look better. When people camouflage certain parts they dislike about themselves, such as covering acne scars with make-up or wearing a flattering outfit, it actually makes them less self-conscious because they don’t have to worry about others focusing on a part of their body with which they are uncomfortable.

    I have a young daughter and I don’t want her pre-occupied with her appearance. Caring about your appearance is one thing. I wear make-up, shave my legs, wear heels because it is my personal style. If I don’t feel like changing out of my sweats or putting on make-up to run an errand, I won’t. I have a relative who spends tons of money on clothes, hours getting ready everyday, and often talks about her appearance or attention she receives from men. Her whole life seems to revolve around the way she looks. I want my daughter to feel good about her appearance, but I want her much more focused on the person she is and what she is doing with out fears about her looks holding her back. In my life, I have felt less or more worthy as a person based on a positive or negative remark about my appearance. It’s hard to disconnect my feelings of my value as a person based on a remark about my appearance.

  26. Evie A.
    Evie A.11-08-2012

    I believe the question has less to do with which beauty aids a women uses, and far more to do with the motive behind using them. I have slightly crooked teeth, but have never wanted braces. They seem painful and expensive, and I’m okay with not ‘fixing’ this flaw. But I know for most people this is just expected to be presentable, and I think it perfectly reasonable as long as the reasoning behind it isn’t ‘oh, I’d be worth less as a person with crooked teeth’. That’s simply not true. As long as we have solid priorities and a healthy outlook I don’t think it really matters how much makeup or shaving or laser skincare we indulge in. With that being said, it does make sense that the more comfortavle we are in our own skin, the less we may want to change it. But as secure as I am in embracing the ‘real’ me, I’ve never fully embraced an acne breakout, and I’m sure I won’t be overly excited about sagging skin. So while it won’t change how I feel about my self worth, I will most likely purchase a night cream. If it makes me feel a wee bit better, why not? I don’t think self care is giving away my feminist card by any means. My husband puts way more effort in shaving every morning before work than I do in my ‘beauty routine.

  27. Lindsay
    Lindsay11-08-2012

    Like most women, I’ve battled with body image my whole life. My mom is 60 and still has an eating disorder. My father died when I was 6 so I based my sefl-perception foundation was based on what I learned from my mother. Most compliments I’ve received from her were about my looks. She is the type that has NEVER left the house w/o makeup (and won’t swim for that reason), she’s terrified of aging, and she even wears corsetts! She’s really small and looks at least 10yrs younger than she is. But of course, can’t see any of that or focus on her true beauty. My 2 sisters rebelled against this and prefer no makeup & wear what most call “frumpy” clothes. I thought for many years that b/c I almost always wear makeup, that I was insecure like my mom. However, I have come to the conclusion in recent years that wearing makeup does NOT always make you insecure. As many mentioned, it’s all about your attitude. For me, makeup is fun & part of my outfit. Just like wearing clothes that accentuate your favorite features & hide your less-than-favorite ones, makeup does just that for me. It doesn’t make me a different person, but rather highlights what I like most about myself. I salute those who feel confident w/o ever wearing makeup, but those who wear it for themselves, I think, shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to look their personal best. Either way, just do what makes you happy and confident!

    My mom also restricted what colors/types of clothes I wore growing up. I now see the harm in telling people what looks or does not look good on them. Pushing our ideals on others (like the media does) doesn’t promote confidence. I let my kids wear whatever makes them happy (except at church–their choice must be approved by me). If it means tights over jeans with cowgirl boots & they’re happy with their choice, I applaud them for being true to themselves! I appreciate what someone else said about teaching your girls that makeup is fun & we are still beautiful w/o it! Our examples to others are truly what will change the rising generations.

    I’m an interesting mix between trendy & hippie. I have my kids naturally (the MOST empowering thing I’ve EVER done for myself), I eat organically w/o meat, & generally avoid drugs–but I love having a funky fashion style. I do, however, believe that health (physical/emotional/psychological) should be the top priority in the beauty area. I have some family members who have had breast augmentations, laser hair removal, electrolosis, etc, but one physcial danger I see more than any other that rarely gets mention (literally a huge group of women/girls I know) go on birth control for the sole purpose of controlling acne. Some have to sign serious waivers promising they won’t get pregnant on their meds b/c of the severe birth defects the treatments cause. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing the harm of these common drugs, especially when given to teens or for long periods of time, yet the desire for perfect skin is more important than reproductive health. Of course there are other medical reasons to adjust hormones–that’s not what I’m talking about. There are many things that are so normal we don’t second guess them…when we should. This is the whole point of beauty redefined, and I LOVE it! I hope we can all have a better awareness of our beauty practices and all the possible effects/consequences they can bring, and do this w/o judging others with different beliefs. :)

  28. Genet
    Genet12-02-2012

    I have dealt with moderate to severe acne since I was about 13 (I’m now 31). I’ve wasted a fair amount of money on ineffective products over the years. When I was 16 I realized that the makeup I was wearing to cover the acne was not only making it worse, but also causing unnatural changes to my skin tone, so I stopped wearing it despite pretty intense emotional discomfort over letting people see my acne.

    At 25 I did finally find a product that keeps my acne mostly clear. I have had pretty intense debates with myself over whether it is worth the money, and I have tried going without it. It finally came down to how I feel about myself. While I have friends with truly severe acne who I think are quite lovely, I have never been able to feel right in my own skin when it is broken out. If my skin is clear, I think about what I am doing and saying, and what others around me are doing and saying. If my skin is spotty, I think about my face, and what other people think about my face. So I spend the money and the time so that I can feel confident in my skin–so that I can feel that I am more than my skin.

    Many women have already said here that it comes down to why you do it. I wanted to add this perspective: Do what brings you peace with yourself, and you will find it easier to find peace and respect with others. Put yourself at peace with your appearance, and you can move beyond being defined by your appearance. I am most at peace with my appearance when I use a beauty product to clear up my acne, so that’s what I do. :)

  29. Alison
    Alison09-15-2013

    This is a great conversation.To me, a moderate beauty routine is like brushing your teeth or wearing clean clothes: it’s good for yourself and considerate of others. I feel like I’m more confident and a better representative of myself, my family, and my religion when I’m “put-together” and that line between helping and hurting will be different for everyone and will even change individually as we come into our own and become more educated about these issues.

  30. Jenna
    Jenna11-13-2013

    In drawing my “line,” I think about what various beauty enhancements cost to me and my family. In a financial sense, in an emotional sense and with regards to time, among other things. For instance, I am not one to get my nails done often. I have only had one manicure with acrylics and it was for my wedding, and I will never do it again because not only was it expensive, it hurt me physically! Plus I am a pianist and found I could not play well with those blasted things on my hands. I will sometimes (maybe 3 times a year) pay for a pedicure because let’s face it, I’m horrible at clipping my own toenails correctly. They do a great job and even massage your legs and feet during the pedicure. But you bet that during the in-between times, I do my own maintenance and polishing. Why? Too much money otherwise, and I don’t have time to go sit at a salon for an hour on a regular basis. I have other things to do. This is the same rationale behind my infrequent hair cuts.

    I don’t wear much make-up because it makes me feel uncomfortable. It is emotionally costly to me. I like to feel like I can cry, laugh, play, run in the wind and sweat without “ruining” my face. Yes, some occasions dictate more make-up than others, such as a wedding. But I know that on most days, I’m make-up free or wearing very little on my face. And I feel 100% great like this.

    Cosmetic surgery will never be worth the cost to me. Financially, I can think of a million ways I would rather spend thousands of dollars than “improving” something that needs no fixing. Emotionally, I feel it is simply unhealthy to even consider risking my life and health by going under the knife for an unnecessary procedure. Sure, there are many operations that seem aesthetic in nature but correct actual problems, and I am not referring to those. I am talking about the heartless, gutless plastic surgery industry which thrives on low self-esteem and nothing more.

    So my boobs aren’t what they used to be. So I have crow’s feet and smile lines. So my tummy sags a little bit after having 3 children. Well … so WHAT? My body still works just fine. Why should I spend my days worrying about it? Why should I spend my hard-earned dollars fixing what isn’t broken? Why should I risk my very life for it? Would it really bring me peace to lay down on an operating table and let someone make me over? Or will I find lasting peace in knowing I am beautiful no matter how many years my body has seen on this earth?

  31. Megan
    Megan11-13-2013

    I myself have become really conflicted over this issue. I don’t want to rely or focus too much on my appearance or objectify myself, yet at the same time, I want to express myself and I enjoy using my body as a creative medium.

    I think most of my beauty routine is used in ways that allow me to express myself or reflect my mood. I like painting my nails different colors based on the season or how I’m feeling that day. I often use my make up to express creativity as well. For example if I’m feeling particularly happy or bright that day I might go for fun colored eyes or bright lipstick. It’s fun for me to try new looks, even if no one else will see that but me. I find it fun to try colors combinations or make different eyeliner shapes. Mostly because I see make up as an art form in many ways. I don’t feel as if I’m photoshopping myself or I need these things, I just do them because they allow me to express my moods and are a creative outlet. I also use my clothes as a way to develop my personal style, and I feel they mesh with my personality.

    The beauty things I do choose to invest in I feel have somewhat become a part of me. However, these things don’t define who I am. They are just another way for me to express my inner self. I also express myself through my attitude, speaking, writing, career choice, etc.

    I draw the line at anything that doesn’t make me feel happy and is focused on what others think rather than what I think. For example, I don’t shave, wax, do my hair, or wear jewelry simply because I do not find these things interesting or to be worthwhile creative outlets for me.

  32. Natalie
    Natalie11-21-2013

    I’m a makeup artist, and I have often questioned my choice of career because of my strong feminist ideals. I don’t think women don’t need to wear makeup, and I often don’t. After questioning myself, I have discovered that I really enjoy putting it on sometimes. If I don’t feel like putting it on one day, I don’t (except if I’m going to work). I really love the artistry, and I love sharing that talent with other people. However, when people come into the makeup store I work in, and say things like, “I’m not wearing any makeup today; it’s horrible,” I gently remind them that it’s *not* horrible, and they don’t need to wear makeup.

  33. Sara
    Sara12-27-2013

    Wow. I love your website and messages but I have to honestly say I think you are hypocrites if you are spreading all these beautiful and true messages yet you wear make-up. No need to respond, but I am quite shocked. I have never worn make-up, not even in high school (I’m 30 now), and it has not affected my ability to find (quite handsome) men to date or affected my career in anyway. The fact you said those things just shows you are still in the trap.

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