Why Makeup Isn’t Superficial

by Molly Gardner

I was lucky enough to get to go the L.A. launch of makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury’s line at The Grove and hear Charlotte speak recently.  She shared a story that really shaped her.  When she started wearing makeup in junior high school, people started reacting to her differently and much more positively.

She described makeup as being magic.  She’s gotten a lot of negative feedback for admitting that, with people saying that makeup is superficial and she should have been confident either way.

Something about that has really stuck with me and been turning in my brain.  Would we ever look at a house that’s been deep cleaned from top to bottom and all the junk has been taken out and a gorgeous new kitchen has been put in and say we like version of the house before?

The cluttered, dirty house?

No, we wouldn’t.

Things feel better when they are polished and cleaned and look good.  I feel better about myself when I’ve put some effort into how I look.  I’ve never seen a man not feel great about himself when he puts on a tux.

To pretend we prefer the cluttered house just isn’t true.  It’s human nature (for the majority) to prefer things that are pleasing to the eye.  There’s a reason people take beach vacations and not junkyard vacations.  Enjoy and appreciate beauty.  Take a look at that photo collage above and notice how it makes you feel.

I used to only do my makeup in the car and give myself ten minutes in the parking lot before I went into work or an event to get it all done.  Why?  Because I thought I was being vain if I spent any longer or actually put, you know, some effort into looking good.  Then a few years ago I realized that the process of doing makeup really relaxed me and calmed me down.  Makeup was my version of fishing.

If I was painting on a canvas and did a whole painting in ten minutes, I’d be considered lazy and sloppy.   The only difference between my face and a canvas is the belief that spending time on personal appearance is vain.

Now I know those are two different points rolled into one thought, but I think they are both valid points.  We’d never prefer the cluttered, unattractive house, because it’s more aesthetically pleasing to be in a beautiful space.  Let yourself be in the beautiful space.  Let yourself relax with makeup, especially if you are like me and really enjoy the process of doing makeup.

The next time you hear someone dismiss makeup as being superficial, show them a picture of a junkyard and a dream house and ask them where they’d rather live.  I’m treating myself like the dream house and I hope you all do too!



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Lisa Okesson Dong May 3, 2015 - 2:11 pm

I love this topic. As a former longtime makeup artist and lead artist for Shu Uemura North America for 7 yrs., I once met a cranky woman at a cocktail party who made comments about the triviality of my profession. I replied, “That is not true. I empower women. You can argue as much as you like, but the cold hard fact is that our biology and our culture, for better or worse, favor those it deems attractive. You can have 3 PhDs but beauty is a powerful catalyst. I have known many women who were depressed or had been left devastated by divorce and the tiniest little hair trim or new makeup or skincare was a tremendous catalyst for internal self acceptance or renewed their sense of self. I also support women who have no desire to wear makeup at all. You are my fave beauty blogger because you “get it”, and you recognize that it’s not neurosurgery but it can darn well be a joy, a pleasure and FUN. And your reviews are SPOT ON! Three cheers and a toast to you, girlfriend!

lisaburkhart May 10, 2015 - 11:53 pm

Well said. Bravo!


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