Should Girls Wear Makeup? And Why Not to Call Girls Pretty

Lately, I’ve encountered a lot of tweets/facebook statuses/social awareness messages like this one:

I stand behind the appliance of makeup 100%. Just kidding, I wouldn’t want to get shot by my mom…

Tweets like this one have some truth in them. Makeup serves plenty of purposes. Sometimes, it supplies females with a sense of confidence or attractiveness. The equipment of makeup can reveal signs of refinement or care toward one’s appearance, which is not altogether a negative thing. In fact, it seems like standard practice for women to wear makeup whenever they attend formal occasions like weddings, or even when they go to work. Wearing makeup does not make women stupid, nor does it make them shallow.

But, like all things, there comes a time when excess leads to error. This is especially true regarding younger females, as the time they spend improving their physical attributes could be spent enhancing their mental abilities. Instead of worrying about how their mascara might run when things get rough, they could be focusing on how they might solve a societal issue when the world gets tough.

Don’t get me wrong, I worry about my appearance too. I’m sure that, to some extent, we all do. But the problem with this is paramount within young females, as they are becoming brainwashed by society from the start to value aesthetics over actual knowledge. I don’t intend to utilize absolutes, as I’m sure this is not the case for every female everywhere in the world, but lately it feels like more people are fawning over looks as opposed to intelligence or morals. When we approach a little girl at a party, we don’t immediately comment on her intellect – rather, we compliment her clothing choices or her hairstyle.*

When was the last time a teen female celebrity was praised because of her brains, and not her beauty? I’m pretty confident that Ke$ha is more well-known for her crazy clubbing antics than for her 1500 SAT score. I don’t think Snooki shows many signs of intelligence, though her friend JWoww earned a few respect points for slamming Bristol Palin. I can’t recall Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, or Miranda Cosgrove garnering good remarks from the media for their smarts. It’s not like these celebrities aren’t smart, or that they aren’t remarkably talented – rather, I feel like sophistication is taking a backseat to sexiness and prettiness and all thing visually pleasing. Just to further my point, I could easily find multiple lists of the prettiest teen female celebrities, but failed to find even one list of the smartest teen female celebrities.

One exception that comes to mind is Emma Watson, who is an avid reader and student at Brown University. Image via justjaredjr.com.

Maybe that wasn’t the best analogy, because it isn’t Taylor Swift’s job to be smart. Her job, as an artist, is to sing. But in this day and age, when young girls are texting from the age of three and wearing makeup and high heels before high school, role models with real brains and strong characters are absolutely necessary. Females suffer from society’s expectations when they are placed on pedestals of aesthetic perfection, and they are hurt when discussions about books are eschewed in order to make room for improving their outfits.

Girls, let me tell you something. Good looks can reel a guy into your circle, no doubt about it. But only a cultivated mind, prepped for clear and informed communication, will keep them there.

*this post was heavily inspired by this wonderful article that everyone should read

Thoughts? Agree, disagree, or any general comments? As a practicing feminist, I felt the need to post this – I hope I didn’t come across as too assertive or forceful! I can’t believe in two days I’ll be done in junior year… now I must work out and then go to sleep in preparation for my Physics final tomorrow, wish me luck!

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Should Girls Wear Makeup? And Why Not to Call Girls Pretty

  1. Once again, I agree with you a 100% I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard that it’s now more of a material world out there today, looks are one of the highlights. Make-up boosts confidence and/or attractiveness for a lot of women I agree, but personally I try to keep away from the stuff not because I don’t like it but because I am a bit stubborn and I feel that if someone should like me it should me because of me not how pretty I am (if I am at all, hey I still have self esteem issues but I’m still adamant that I don’t want make up to make me feel better) though I use it every now and then to keep my grandma satisfied, I am a young lady after all, humph.

    As for celebs, oh woe, I haven’t heard of the media zooming in on these girls’ academic smarts, Taylor seems to be a bright bulb. Ah, Emma Watson, she’s actually one of my role models she sure has kept her head on straight after all the fame, and was dead set on completing her education. She said that she’d been Warner Brothers pain in the butt because of that. Beauty + Brains = a rare combination.

    As for getting guys to like you, they should be interested in you as a person and, yes, appearance plays a role too, we have to keep ourselves well groomed at all times, first impressions and all that. So in the end I think it’s okay for girls to wear make-up, spot on with the amount of it too, I’ve heard of girls being teased behind their backs that those girls look like hookers, the meanies.

    I think, as older sisters, we should be the ones (along with our moms and even brothers) that should sit down a have talks with our little sisters about these issues, we’re close to them and what have an impression on them and more than likely they’ll listen. I haven’t done this as yet and being the eldest of four girls I should get around doing it immediately, but I have gotten them books whenever I could and honestly it gives me this great feeling when I do, especially when I see their ecstatic smiles.

    … 25 percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize
    Lisa Bloom (from the link)

    ^- That, my friend, is insanity right there. If this keeps up I predict that in the future a majority of women will be dolls with nothing in their plastic heads, nothing of substance at all. I do hope I don’t come across as harsh there, but that is what I think and it scares me.

    Believe me, you haven’t come off as either assertive or forceful and I’m glad you posted this!

    Thomas, I know we don’t re-blog much on The Dark Globe (a blog I contribute to), but I checked with DarkJade (our admin) on this one because I feel this is a pretty important Subject, so I’d very much like your permission to do so.

    Good luck with the Physics, may the forces be in you favour 😀

    • First off, of course you can reblog this! I’m sure you will appropriately source it to this blog, so it’s fine. And I did take my Physics finale, got a B+… I ended the year with an A- though, which, while not stellar, is satisfactory.

      As for your comment, I agree with everything you’ve stated! The importance of role modeling in particular, because at a young age kids are easily influenced – brothers and sisters and parents should act as counteractive forces against society’s ugly standards of beauty.

      And, yeah, I didn’t include that quote in my post, but it is scary. I don’t think your assertion is far off if all women were to want to win America’s Next Top Model as opposed to the Nobel Peace Prize, but luckily, that is not the case. I am confident that there are those out there who strive to improve their characters and their intelligence.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. It’s a lot easier to comment on a girl’s appearance than smartness at a party. You can’t really know a girl until you talk to her. It’s really sad that so many girls have to wear it before feeling like they’re good enough to be seen in the public. At the same time I think being able to apply make-up is a great skill to have. It’s an art. It’s also sad that a blog like The Beauty Brains (very informative!) has to exist to tell women their beauty products are made of chemicals/ingredients that are either harmful or actually don’t do what you’d expect them to do.

    I think it’s kind of rotten how guys want girls that are pretty and smart. Never enough.

    • Hm, that’s true, but I think it’s important that we make an effort to engage in in-depth conversation as opposed to simply handing out casual compliments. I’m not saying that compliments about appearances should be banned, but they should not be the only thing a person ever remarks on.

      That is also true, though I don’t think you can generalize that to every guy – I’m sure there are guys out there (like, cough, me) who look for good character in a potential partner. If it makes you feel any better, the same can be said about girls’ expectations of guys – some want a guy who has money, who is attractive, and who is funny. Sometimes, high expectations are just not helpful.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. While I do agree that intelligence and education should be valued more highly in our culture, I think a better solution might be exercise. There are many girls who are confident in their own intelligence, but are not happy with their physical appearance. Exercise focuses more on the physical side of things, which helps to better the body, even if it cannot change every imperfection in someone’s face. Exercise also releases chemicals into the body that make people happier and more confident with themselves, so the body parts that they don’t like don’t seem as important anymore.

    I’ve always had a thought that women should all decide together to stop using makeup, because men and society in general would have to accept the natural female face as the norm. But I understand that’s not realistic, and many women enjoy using makeup, so I don’t think we can really take it all away from them.

    • While I do value education, I had never thought of a solution like that. That is a good idea, as exercise does improve oneself physically and mentally by releasing certain chemicals, like you said. Irrespective of gender, exercise is a bonus.

      And that would be great, but you’re right in that it’s unrealistic. Perhaps a long time ago, if society ever readjusts it’s standards…

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  4. You’ve hit the nail right on the head! There’s nothing wrong with women wearing make up to look a bit more polished, but when your looks are the ONLY thing society cares about, there’s a huge problem (especially when it’s really young girls).

    But, like my dad said to me once: “Looks will attract a man. Brains will keep him.” It isn’t always true, but today I feel like putting a little faith into humanity. So let’s just go with that.

    • Exactly. And I think your dad has the right idea. It may not always be true, but it’s a good adage to adhere to. I think brains and good character will keep the guys who are worth keeping. (:

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Carrie!

  5. Agreed, but it’s hard to blame them. Being a girl and dealing with how society judges you is demanding enough — being a young woman who’s constantly in the spotlight is even harder, I’d imagine. But you’re right: I wish more girls would focus half as much on their intellect as they do on their appearance. Because a strong mind is far more deeply attractive than a pretty face. It’s what keeps a relationship alive and thriving — not the latest lip gloss.

    Emma Watson is one of those rare examples of successful young woman who are both enviable beauties and intelligent thinkers. Good for her!

    • I see what you mean, the pressure must be tough to handle. With good role models and solid intrinsic motivation, coupled with a love for learning, girls would be on the road to success – it’s just a question of how to get them there.

      Agreed, hats off to Ms. Watson! Also, thank you for reading and commenting.

  6. Rafia

    I completely agree. I try to limit my media intake because the media places looks and beauty in the front seat 99% of the time and its just depressing for us “normal” lookin folks.
    I wear very little makeup, and sometimes people can’t even tell i’m wearing any. Im going to be a sophomore in high school this August, and instead of focusing on looks, i plan on improving my personality for when i start dating (my parents won’t let me or my sisters date till we’re 18, i don’t mind because i don’t think teens should be dating anyway.)
    Stuff like fake boobs, hair, eyelashes, etc. all seem so unneeded (unless you lose you hair or chest to cancer or something, then it’s appropriate then). I think people should just be happy with what they were born with instead of obsessing over others looks.
    Totally unrelated but i’m a Key fan too 🙂 Isn’t he hot?!?!
    (You’re really cute too btw ❤ lololol)

    • Nice! I think it’s great that instead of rebelling against the limits your parents have set for you, you’re striving to do your best to accommodate those limits and live beyond them. If only humans weren’t so naturally insecure, things would be a lot more simple.

      Key is great! I feel guilty because I haven’t posted anything about him in awhile, but there has been a decline in SHINee activity lately…

      Aw, and thanks for the compliment. Hope to hear from you again, soon!

  7. Reblogged this on bxtez and commented:
    That isn’t exactly what I believe for some extent. I do think pretty appearances gain us some advantages in life. But for most parts, I agree. I dont want my kids growing up in a world of teenagers painting nails wearing high heel trying to be lady-like when they are absolutely not.
    And thumbs up for the example of Emma/ Herminone.

  8. wordsthatyousay

    Hi, I love your post (and your whole blog-yay books!) I find it very interesting how not too long ago women’s rights movements were fighting for equal voting and jobs with men, yet these days the media seems to be reversing that effort. I don’t mean to say this for everyone, but many of the music videos of popular songs have the singer surrounded by skantily clad girls as if they were little more than objects. Of course I have no problem at all with using make-up to feel more confident; looking good is often linked to feeling good. However, I do find it ridiculous that some girls (even teenagers) would use plastic surgery to change their natural face or body. Plastic surgery, I believe, is fine in extreme cases for people who really need it to feel like they belong, but some celebrities use it just for a “prettier nose” or skinnier thighs.
    I suppose it’s easier for people to advertise beauty since it’s so apparent, unlike intelligence and personality which takes more effort to display.
    Still, Emma Watson is a great role model and I hope more future celebrities would be like her 😀

    • Hi! I’m glad that you enjoyed reading this post as well as my book reviews. And I do think that you have a good point – I feel like the women’s rights movement is still strong and progressive, but that the media can portray women in a way that is not exactly beneficial to them, even if they do have the right to dress scantily or act promiscuously. This is somewhat of a double standard though, because as Lady Gaga put it, a woman who engages in sexual activity with many men would be considered a sexual deviant, whereas a guy who does that would be considered a “rockstar” (though i would consider him more as a player or a bad person…)

      Agreed on plastic surgery – the money and the time could be put into much better things! Even though appearance and other superficial measures are easier to analyze and judge right away, I wish more measures were put into place to increase the value of intelligence and good character in society.

      Anyway, thank you for reading and commenting!

  9. RabidBunnyD

    I both love and resent make up.

    I resent it because, growing up, I could see so many beautiful women in it, and girls whose mothers taught them fairly early to use it. My self confidence in my pre-teen and teen years was absolute crap. Prior to middle school, I stopped trying to even make new friends, because the friends I made were just using me to make themselves look better (which is a shitty feeling, btw).

    But eventually, when I learned to use make up, and with subtlety, I could make myself look more mature, which is what I wanted. I was smart, not a genius, but smart. I read (and still do) a lot of books, I was surprisingly efficient at math for an art student, and I was already developing my own opinions about heavy subjects. I was ahead of my age group, and I wanted to be taken more seriously, which is easier to do if you LOOK older.

    However, I’m still disgusted with the pressures to look good that women face in everything. I’m lucky enough that my boyfriend thinks I’m beautiful with or without make up, and could care less if I wear it or not. Considering my problem with breakouts, you can understand why NOT wearing make up can be so horrifying for me. And even though he doesn’t care, I still tend to wear it when we go out, for multiple reasons. One is that I kinda wish other men were jealous of him for having me. I don’t know why, but it’s a feeling I notice deep down every time we go ANYWHERE.

    Another is that putting on make up, doing our hair, choosing clothes that make us attractive – these are all things that people consider necessary for someone who cares about themselves. Professionally, showing up with ratty hair, no make up, zits and bad clothes is pretty much a death wish. They want someone who appears hygienic, who obviously cares how they are perceived on a visual level. Male or female, this is necessary to get a job, but to me it seems that women have to do more, and still don’t get taken as seriously for the same reasons. We have to put on that make up, and wear those nice shoes and that slimming blazer to get a job, and then the professional world calls us vapid and shallow and makes fun of buying all the clothes and the shoes and the makeup. It’s stupid really.

    Still, wearing make up gives me confidence, like you said. Not much, mind you, but some. The day my boyfriend REALLY sat up and noticed me was the day I let my hair down, styled it, and did my makeup a bit. Usually he’d seen me ponytail, maybe some coverup, and dirty art clothes. He said I looked like a COMPLETELY different person. In fact, the people at my lunch table barely recognized me, some didn’t even recognize me at all. It makes a difference, a lot more than people realize.

    Anyway, I’m done rambling. XD

    • Yes yes yes. I am sorry that you had to go through the bad friendships before middle school, but it is a great thing that you have developed this wisdom and self-esteem and have found someone who cares about you. I agree that using it subtly is a benefit, and looking older than one’s age definitely possesses its pros. It’s also understandable with your breakouts – I have friends who have to use products in order to cover up rashes and other health-related issues.

      The double standard for women (and men, sometimes) is horrible. You high-lighted it in your comment with how you’re expected to look aesthetically appealing when coming to work but then you’re mocked for trying too hard or for being too meretricious. I guess professionalism has its price, though I think people like you know the right amount to pay in terms of appearances. (:

      Aw, your relationship with your boyfriend sounds so cute! There’s nothing wrong with looking good, as long as in the end it comes down to the heart and the personality. Which is clearly your case, as well as the case of many others.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, and I hope to hear from you soon!

  10. Jo

    I completely agree with you and as a tomboy, I can see the pros and cons of wearing makeup. I mean it can help some girls who aren’t very confident to be able to be happy with themselves, but the problem is when girls create an obsession in makeup. They abuse the tool that is supposed to be just a little boost to self-esteem and try to create a new person in themselves. It makes me sick to see the girls in my grade and much younger caring nothing about intelligence or learning and completely blind themselves from everything but appearances. Even some my best girlfriends can’t see past their reflections in the mirror. I’m glad I am not the only person on the planet that values intelligence over appearances.
    PS. I absolutely love your blog. Everything you write about is so well written and it gives me a refreshing break from the torture that is high school.

    • I agree, I think makeup serves its purpose well when it supplies girls with that extra boost of confidence that lets them seize the day. But, like most things, excess is not good, and relying solely on makeup can result in horrible consequences. And I’m glad that I’m not the only one who sees through this facade and the problems it creates. (:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, I hope to hear from you again some time! I’m sorry that high school is onerous for you, but at least you only have four or less years (not sure what grade you’re in.) Hang in there, from what I’ve heard college will be a lot better!

  11. Arina

    I totally agree, but you should know that Taylor Swift finished High School with honors and her main goal in the following years is to get a degree. Just so you know…

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