Why Do Women Wear Make-Up?

Women, generally, wear make-up. Men, generally, do not. I’m not opening with a ground breaking observation, am I? There is an argument that this is the case because men have decided women should be judged on their appearance and thus when women wear make-up they are conforming to their own subjugation. There may be a penny of truth in that, but I don’t fully believe it. After all, I shave and cut my hair and look after my weight and try to combat spots; I’ve recently spent money on dressing in a style other than “sewn together suicide bomber”. I too acknowledge that I am book that shall be judged by its cover.

(Here’s an observation for lovers of irony) While wearing make-up, women still judge men by the content of what they say: our humour and how well we hold them in conversation. In what sort of a relationship can the subjugated hold their captors to a higher standard?

I have a slightly different hypothesis, based on what I have seen in all sort of environments: work, clubs, shopping, school-run; and in many countries. I think pressure and competition birth a compulsion for some women to wear make-up, espeically those that wear a lot of it.

Tell me if you also have this observation (because, if you don’t, I am probably wrong). Picture a woman where you work who noticeably wears a lot of make-up. I suspect that woman is either above you in the hierarchy of your organisation or is desperately scrabbling her way up. I say “desperately”, because I mean she is probably not doing it by the conventional means of working diligently and effectively. She is probably the same person who flings the responsibility of her failures on her colleagues while simultaneously sucking up to her boss. Of the women above you in your organisation, I predict there is a distinct separation between the ones you trust, who have probably worked hard and that you can rely on compared to the ones you think are there with a sense of self-entitlement, smugness and no sense of responsibility. And I predict that make-up is one of the identifying things.

When I pick my brothers up from school I see the parents picking up their children. Most of them are mothers. This is an entirely non-hierarchical situation; all people are equal (except me, I look like an ageing teen parent. I’m 24 and I pick up an 11 and an 8-year-old). Nearly none of these women wear make-up. And the few that do are visibly making snide comments and jokes about the rest of the parents.

My hypothesis is this: no to small amounts of make-up are of no particular indicator of a woman’s personality. However, heavy amounts of make-up are an indicator of a woman’s sense of self-entitlement and drive to be superior.

(Just as a note, and to try to guard against being seen as a misogynist: men have this nature too. You can see it in ostentatious fashion, very expensive but ill-fitting clothes. The reason I didn’t particularly see it as worthy of note is that the snake-oil salesman and man so-charming-he’s-definitely-up-to-something is someone already in our psyche. We already know this man.)

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2 thoughts on “Why Do Women Wear Make-Up?”

  1. The human mind works in manifestly similar ways from brain to brain. The amount of make-up is just one of the ways that you can determine some basic traits about other people. Women accessorize themselves in their dress and look and it will be women who are first to say that they can’t go out if they don’t dress up at least a bit, even to the garden center, because they know it is women who judge them most harshly.

    For those that wear it, it can become a mask that they cannot be seen in public without. Observe how much and what kind of jewelry women wear, what kind of watch a man wears, how they each deal with their smart phones and on and on… it’s a kind of body language and should be seen as such. We already see it that way, but still people get pissy when you talk about it.

    1. It is incredible the amount of effort we put into a facade. Especially when so many people have no real content when you talk to them; highly decorated, but empty books.

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