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Saturday, October 18, 2014

What We Can Learn From Makeupdoll: "Natural" Beauty In An Image-Obsessed Society

A while ago my friend showed me this meme. Like everyone else who has seen it, I was amazed. In fact I swore to my friend that the pictures were of two separate women. No way that's the same girl! A few days ago as I surfed youtube, I stumbled across Makeupdolls channel and watched her expertly apply her makeup. I am not one of her many fans or subbies. In fact, I was initially critical of the young lady myself. And then I stopped to think.

Since this meme went viral many men and women have had some ugly things to say which brings up questions about the role of beauty in our culture, whether cosmetic enhancements are inherently deceptive, and how women can cope with the enormous pressure of living in a world that expects them to look beautiful all the time. I want to try to address some of these questions as best I can here on the Purposeful blog.

Let me say that I feel conflicted. I mean on one hand I understand where Makeupdoll is coming from and no one can deny that she is a very skilled lady. Her make up application is phenomenal. On the other hand, I would feel uncomfortable looking drastically different than myself. I tend to be a minimalist. I didn't even start wearing makeup regularly (regularly being defined as a few times a month) until I turned 30. But suppose I had a major skin condition and behold here are some products that could make me look fantastic, I would take advantage of the products. That is what Makeupdolls has done.

What I do not understand are the haters. Everyone has a right to choose how they present themselves to the world. Everyone uses cosmetics to enhance themselves in some way. Whether it be skin correcting chemicals and treatments, fragrances and colognes, hair processes, products, and extensions etc. The question then becomes how much is too much? Is there a point where a person is being disingenuous? I cannot realy answer those questions because I grapple with them myself. In the case of Makeupdoll, I am not convinced that she is being deceptive--how deceptive can you be when you show your bare face to thousands and thousands of people on social media regularly?

Some people believe that everyone should just be natural. That's easily said, but I want to go on record saying that naturally I look a hot mess. Yes my hair is natural in that it is unprocessed, but don't get it twisted, I go to a stylist at least once a month. I also benefit from a variety of wigs and hair extensions. I wear contact lenses (can't see without em), use acne meds when my skin flares up, brush my teeth with baking soda to make them white, and hit the gym when a few pounds creep up. Naturally, I also smell pretty bad too. In fact when I wake up and look at myself in the mirror--smelling bad, looking crazy with crust all in my eyes, and hair all over my head I can admit I am "naturally" a mess. I do what is needed, albeit minimally, to present a polished version of myself to the world. WE ALL DO. But we point fingers and name call, and get all up in arms on the interwebs to judge someone else. Shame on us.

I have written quite a bit about beauty on the blog.  In one post I commented, "first a society decides that all women should be beautiful in order to have worth and then we shun those who don’t meet the inflexible standards we subject them to. This is most tragic!" Women are under pressure to always look good. So if a young lady chooses to enhance her appearance she's maligned and insulted, but if she does nothing she's still maligned and insulted for being thought "ugly". Some of the same people throwing stones at Makeupdoll would be saying, "Dang, girl you need some makeup," if they saw her clean face in public. I am not immune to the beauty standards either. It is impossible to have naturally perfect everything; perfectly manicured nails. long thick tresses and eyelashes, flawless skin, a knock-out physique, and a gorgeous wardrobe. How does any real, natural woman pull these standards off with out some assistance? If she gives in and purchases the products that make her socially acceptable, people ridicule her and say she is inauthentic! No! Inauthentic is the male-driven standard that exists in the first place!!!

And while we are on the topic, so much of the mudslinging against Makeupdoll was done by men. Men need to get over it! I say that wholeheartedly. Either a) accept that women are not perfect and be willing to love a natural woman for who she is or b) accept a woman that meets your standards by utilizing the full array of her cosmetic options! There is no choice c.

So how can women survive and thrive in a world that marginalizes us. Previously, I thought the answer was in throwing out cosmetics altogether and refusing to yield to the status quo. Yes, there is power in going against the grain, but I think the answers are deeper than that. This is a societal problem. It requires a rethinking of how we define beauty in our culture. It requires a revolution in how we view women as a whole! That's beyond the scope of this blog. However, I would encourage women to stop defining themselves by the way they look and to discourage the next generation from evaluating their worth based on their appearance.

Lastly, I want to reiterate that there is nothing inherently wrong with looking nice and using whatever is at your disposal to present yourself as beautiful. As a feminist, however, I do not believe that a women's # 1 motivator for taking care of herself should be a man's opinion (or to compete with other women over a man's opinion). Look nice for yourself! Create your own definition of beauty. And don't forget to be beautiful where it matters the most: inside. A generous spirit, a kind nature, and a compassionate character will do more for you than any color pallet or foundation regimen ever could.

It takes skill that's for sure. Can I really fault someone
for trying to look good in an image conscious society?
(Can't see vid? View it here)

As always leave your thoughts below in the comment section!!!!!

Bonus Material:

 Both of these women have skin problems. Both use make up to transform their appearances. One woman gets praises, a modeling contract, and appearances on the daytime tv. The other woman gets trash talked on the internet and has demeaning memes made about her. Hmmmm. Kinda makes you wonder. Can't view vids? Click here and here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very very interesting indeed. needless to say makeup doll has done well for herself. I started following her back in they heyday when beauty youtube girls was just starting. I learned everything from her. She was actually close to my skin tone. Before her there were only mixed or white girls on youtube. even now its hard to find beauty girls as dark as me.