Maxed Out My Makeup Budget

I love makeup. I love it so much I actually have a “makeup budget.”

Seriously, I put money aside to buy $30 lipsticks and $50 eye shadow palettes.

 I’m not particularly proud of spending so much of my hard earned money, but I still love makeup. And if you’re already judging me just move along, I work hard and I will spend my money wherever I want.


But me liking makeup isn’t really newsflash as many of us like to wear makeup. However, I am also known for being an outspoken feminist, and to many these two don’t mix.

There is nothing wrong with being a feminist and being into beauty, but with the makeup industry’s need in making women feel ugly to make them buy their products, it isn’t shocking that many of us see it as something negative.

The idea that makeup isn’t feminist-friendly came from the feminist movement in the 1970s. This feminism was about rejecting beauty standards and the idealized woman – well groomed, slender, and all done up. Their intentions were good, and I am a passionately opposed to the idea that we must fit into one standard of beauty (check out my last post.) However, I understand that…

feminism isn’t about rejecting our own definition of femininity, even if that definition is different for all of us.


To me makeup is a fashion statement.

I wear it for myself. Because I love the way coral lipstick makes me feel like it’s summer time. Or the way gold eye shadow makes me feel like a million bucks. I worship the concealer that erases five hours of partying and makes me look alert for work. I am amazed at the way a good blush can make my face look extra healthy and plump.

 Men and women have worn makeup in the past, (hey there, King Tut and Queen Cleopatra) and they wear it today. It’s only recently that makeup has stopped being a form of decoration for both genders. Even our first president, George Washington wore face powder, blush, and a fancy wig. Makeup surely didn’t make them any less powerful, and neither should it make us feel the same way.

 But I am not writing this to give you all a history lesson, or talk about 2nd wave versus 3rd wave feminism. I am writing this because I know that decisions are not made in a vacuum. I decide to wear makeup, but that decision affects other women. When I wear makeup to work I reinforce one ideal of beauty, and that makes it much harder for women who want to come to work au naturel.


 I know for a fact that beauty is rewarded in our society, and it is addicting! According to a study published in the scientific journal Neuron, the parts of the brain that lights up when you use drugs such as cocaine and heroin, also lights up upon seeing a beautiful face. The impression I make when I have makeup on is a lot more favorable than the one I make when I look like I just rolled out of bed.

We also have unimaginable pressure from the media to look a certain way, leading us to believe that our beauty is related to our makeup. Many women feel ugly without it and never allow anyone to see them barefaced. And while it’s perfectly healthy to find ways to boost our self-esteem, no one should rely solely on makeup to give them that confidence.

True confidence comes from within.

So where do we go from here?

First, we have to realize that there is a double standard when it comes to beauty ideals. Our society expects women to always look well polished and done up, but belittle them for trying to achieve that goal. It’s blatant hypocrisy.

We also have to learn that makeup is used as a tool for empowerment much more than as a tool to “cover up the ugly.” We wear makeup to showcase our style, our personality, our favorite colors. We take pride in knowing which products will take care of our skin. And we feel passionate about using products that are cruelty-free and all-natural.

Our face is the first impression we get to make.

It can express confidence and love of art, or it can display confidence and love of simplicity.


Women who choose to wear or not wear makeup are making a decision about how they wish to be perceived, and I value that decision.

For me to assert control over another woman’s body, to tell her what she should not do with her face…

that would be a betrayal of feminism.





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  1. Femme is fierce!

  2. in context of feminism (if we are going to use it as an this umbrella term), i think it’s more about taking pride in femininity and maybe it’s easier to represent someone who chooses not to put on makeup (since that is a direct way of communicating a message and portraying ones features) rather than someone who uses it sparingly (since that obviously doesn’t send the same message across). but in reality, i think this more stereotype at this point and i would be shocked if there are feminists adamantly protesting mascara… the whole “au naturel” look only makes sense in a negative context anyway– one where a woman is contrasted with someone slathering on colors to fit some norm… but how does that fit into today’s society where looking natural is “in”?
    as for the norm that the feminist MIGHT protest, that might be using ur makeup to fit a standard… the problem is, that standard is typically seen as “bee- stung lips” or some shit like that, when the standard could very simply be what you just mentioned– that you think it empowers you…
    someone like that might say that you only see makeup as a tool for empowerment because it’s more likely to land you a conversation or job than it is if you arent styling the eye liner that’s creating the illusion of symmetry for your eyes. maybe THAT’S where your false sense of self- expression comes in… even that study u point out, there are cross- cultural studies done in the past that allude to wide-spread indicators of reproductive health– like not having acne, symmetry, looking healthy (color in the cheeks)…
    presuming our biology limits us and the other sex especially likes to see a woman with a good waist- hip ratio, nice facial symmetry (and yes that includes our super yummy organic lip liner), then i just say fuck it and let’s just admit that it is REALLY hard to separate biological preferences from subjective ones… and maybe there’s nothing wrong with looking good for other people (including men) because that line crosses with looking good for ourselves? makeup isn’t everything, and it can’t hide everything.
    i just think it’s naive to say it can be one’s pure self- expression when others, including men, carry the same preferences for a woman to “self- express” in a certain way.

  3. In my opinion, this is the meaning of feminism. I’m a feminist who loves makeup/other feminine things myself as I believe being a feminist means knowing your rights and having it all. With that said, I really enjoyed this post!

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