I wear varying amounts of makeup every day unless actively camping.
I genuinely enjoy makeup. I take pleasure in the routine, the creativity, having the ability to alter my appearance, and the light boost of sass.
It’s nothing new. Both women and men have used makeup to show strength, wealth/rank, and to symbolize sexual desire from ancient Egypt’s kohl eyeliner, to England’s Queen Elizabeth I and her terrifying lead-laced white visage.
In the modern era, in a marketplace primarily directed at women, makeup has been used to highlight the beauty of one’s own natural features; making eyes slightly wider, lips a bit fuller and cheeks youthfully rosy.
That is, in my view, until the last few years where the makeup train suddenly took off, careening down the tracks with no brakes.
No more gentle apple-ing of cheeks. Now the standard (apparently) is a full face, harshly sculpted look with large Cara Delevingne eyebrows.
The method of “contouring”, the process of highlighting the forehead, brow line, bridge of the nose, cupid’s bow and chin, applying dark foundation at the hairline, forehead, sides of the nose, hollows of cheeks and jawline, then blending it all together until cheekbones resemble those of an Area 51 alien…reigns supreme.
Now we carve entirely new faces on top of our own, going to school, work or for a night out wearing more makeup than three newscasters, two Miss America contestants, and a Kardashian.
Where did this need to always be camera ready every day come from?
For one thing, it’s everywhere in the media. YouTube tutorials, red carpets, thousands of Instagram accounts featuring women with lavender hair and bloated, matte Kylie Jenner lips with impossible trompe l’oeil bone structure.
But just because it’s visible, doesn’t mean it’s advisable or even feasible for everyone.
Don’t forget, these are professional, almost movie set-level techniques requiring practice and hundreds of dollars of makeup and tools.
Why then are regular (non-famous) women buying into it?
Have cosmetics companies actually convinced us that our pores are flaws when without them we’d boil alive from the inside?
Have we, as makeup consumers, bought what Photoshop, photo editors, and advertisers are selling us?
We see the perfectly flat (digitally manipulated) under-eye of our printed idols and apply those rules to our topographic under eyes, piling concealer on to the tear ducts, when we <i>know</i> that eye sockets aren’t flat, and that shadows exist.
Please know that this is not an attempt to body-shame anyone. What you put on your face (or not) is entirely up to you.
Let me just attempt to slow this runaway makeup train by being the kind Aunt who tells you not that “less is more”, but that “less is acceptable.”
Sit confidently at your vanity knowing that elaborate makeup routines are not the base level of being ‘put together,’ in style or attractive.
Along with liquid liner and pressed powder, what you should always have in your makeup kit is awareness and choice.
Jane Testar is a writer and performer with the Winnipeg sketch comedy troupe, Hot Thespian Action, an improviser with local improv troupe, Outside Joke, and the host of the CBC Comedy Factory Podcast.