Skip to main content

12th February 2015

Is my face a feminist issue?

Kirsty Marsh on the feminist face of make-up mavens

As a child nothing could compare to the glee of sneakily raiding my mum’s make-up bag to paint my lids mauve and draw on some wobbly red lips without getting caught. I continued to innocently play around with cosmetics until secondary school when I decided that wearing make-up everyday was a necessity akin to brushing my teeth. Spidery black lashes, mismatched foundation and pearlescent eye shadow (sourced from quality publications such as Shout and Mizz) possessed the same innocence and naivety as my earlier experiments.

I have worn make-up every single day from the age of 14, and over time the bare essentials have gone from black mascara and Vaseline to a minimum of foundation, face powder, brow filler, mascara, and winged eye-liner. This dependence on a fully made-up face will no doubt be deemed “un-feminist” by many people and it has, on occasion, made me consider why it’s so important to me.

The simple reason that I wear make-up is to look and feel more attractive because funnily enough, seeing my spotty, shiny, bare-faced reflection in the mirror doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. I see nothing inherently wrong with disguising my flaws and accentuating the features that I do like.

To me it is no different from anyone, male or female, having a regular haircut or buying a T-shirt that they like. You only have to look to nature to see how the laws of attraction are a part of the existence of many organisms from plants to birds. For most of these creatures it is necessary to their survival, as they use their appearances to attract mates or deter predators.

Cosmetics have also been used for thousands of years by both men and women from almost all tribes and cultures. They were used for various reasons for hygiene in Ancient Egypt,  to define social class in the Chinese Dynasties, and to intimidate the enemy during battle by Aborigines and Native Americans.

Ultimately, wearing a bit of make-up to improve your appearance certainly does not make you a slave to the patriarchy. To me feminism is about a woman being equal to a man and being free to make her own life choices.

And what’s more empowering than a woman choosing her own look and to wear make-up because she wants to, not because she is conforming to social expectations?

More Coverage

Bloomers are back: A successful attempt at reclaiming feminist fashion?

An exploration of bloomers as a feminist symbol and their role in fashion today

King George vs Lady Gaga: Crown to Couture at Kensington Palace in review

Crown to Couture is an expertly curated exhibition which draws fascinating parallels between the world of today’s red carpet and the Georgian Royal Court in the 18th century.

Natsu Fest: The Last Dance – What’s next for Manchester’s community clothing brand?

From an early collaboration with Wagamama to starting a music festival in his backyard. We sat down with student clothing brand owner Dhara Nat Sufraz Patel to talk everything Natsu Clothing.

Making a statement: Fashion in politics

From Minion suits to social movements, find out why fashion in politics has been making a statement for so long.