The lady-blogosphere reacted this week after the Daily Mail published an article revealing the less than shocking (to me, anyway) news that some women wait four weeks before daring to bare their makeup-free faces to a new boyfriend.
Apparently this revelation was uncovered via a survey of 2,000 women, which found that indeed, ladies feel less self-confident and attractive without makeup (yawn). Six out of ten of the women polled wanted to make sure their new partner "liked them enough" before they felt comfortable unveiling their makeup-free mugs. And a third of the women believed that, had they let their boyfriend see them without makeup too early into the relationship, said relationship would have died in the water (OK, there's a twinge of sadness in that one).
The Daily Mail also made sure to mention that some freaky ladies, "In the lead up to baring all ... will think nothing of nipping to the bathroom in the middle of the night to touch up their make-up, or get up early to ensure their new beau doesn’t witness their bedraggled morning appearance." (I haven't touched up my makeup in the middle of the night, but if I've woken up early in bed with a new boyfriend, I'm not gonna lie -- there might have been occasions where I put on tinted lip balm, wiped away mascara smudges and brushed my hair. Does that make me a terrible person?)
Maybe it's me, but I'm not especially surprised or perturbed by those findings. Yeah, it's crappy that so many of us don't feel acceptably alluring in the cleanest, most natural version of our own skin, but that's not exactly breaking news. Insecurity is a persistent psychological saboteur among most of the women I know. It sucks, but it isn't surprising, considering that we're constantly staring down a culture that places more emphasis on how we look than what we do, say, think, or feel.
But we also do it to ourselves. We compare ourselves to other women. We judge them for their hair or their shoes or their eyebrows or their bellies or their cellulite. We poke and prod and push, often about their appearances, because in this twisted culture, trashing women's looks is more potent and effective -- more HURTFUL -- than trashing their characters.
It's up to us to decide how much we buy into the bullshit messaging society constantly jams down our throats. It's also up to us to decide how much makeup we use (if any), and how much time and money we feel comfortable spending on it, and what that makeup represents to us -- how it jibes with our values, how it makes us feel, inside and out, and most importantly, how much power we allow it to hold over our self-regard.
Personally? I'm guilty of some of the things described in the Daily Mail piece. I love makeup; always have, probably always will. It's fun and creative, a way to experiment with colors and images and identities and ideas. I wear it most days -- I keep it light if I'm running errands or going to an appointment, but for a date, hell yes I'm spackling on more face-paint (and hell yes it makes me feel a bit prettier and more ... prepared). But I don't think there's anything wrong with that, nor with the amount of time it takes me to get ready for a date (40 minutes sounds about right). Though I DO realize that all this effort is kind of funny, given how many men love to pontificate about their appreciation for the "natural," low-makeup look (ah, little do they know!).
I guess I don't see the need for too much indignation here. Yes, it's sad that so many of us struggle with such profound insecurities about our appearances. And yeah, it sucks if some of us think a dude would bail the instant we dared to go au naturel (though if a guy bolted for such a lame, petty reason, he obviously wouldn't be worth the effort or tears). But a woman's relationship with her own appearance, including the use of makeup to enhance said appearance, is personal. And complicated. And her own business, and her own responsibility. If wearing red lipstick every time she sees a new paramour makes her feel hot, I sincerely hope she wears the shit out of that lipstick without apology or shame. Even if it means her date doesn't see her "real" lip color for four weeks. (Whatever; that doesn't even seem that long to me.)
What do you think of the survey results? Do you take pains to look better at the beginning of a new relationship, or spend extra effort on your makeup when you're dating someone new?
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