A surprising response to my request that women stop wearing makeup

Yesterday I wrote a post that essentially criticized women for wearing makeup. I knew that I might be stepping into a hornet’s nest with my comments, but I felt strongly enough about them to risk the sting.

Twenty-four hours later, I thought I’d update you on the reaction to the piece, because it was both plentiful and surprising:

First, every person who disagreed with my position responded in a reasoned, thoughtful, and polite manner, which is more than I can say for myself at times, so thank you.

Second, the response in general was surprising. Through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, actual human conversation and email, the response to the post (more than 60 respondents in all) was 80/20 in favor of my position.

I was astounded.

I am also cognizant that this is probably not a true measure of opinion. Readers who disagreed with my position may have simply scoffed at my ideas and moved on, whereas women who have spent much of their life makeup-free were more likely to respond with support and appreciation.

Still, 80/20 is overwhelming.

I also heard from several women who acknowledged that on a logical, objective level, it’s true that makeup does not make sense and might even be damaging to female self esteem, but because we live in a society that deems otherwise, they will continue to wear it.

One reader said:

“It’s true that I probably only enjoy wearing makeup because I have been taught to enjoy wearing it by women before me. And I’m even willing to acknowledge that it probably doesn't help a woman’s self image. But that doesn’t change the fact that I enjoy wearing it.”

I thought this was an excellent point.

In discussing the issue with my wife last night (even though she rarely wears makeup, she was less than enthusiastic about my approach to the issue), I said, “Can’t we agree that if we had a chance to start the world all over again, we should probably start it without makeup.”

“Yes,” she said. “And that’s what you should have said that in your post.”

As usual, she makes a good point. Rather than simply criticizing women for wearing makeup and asking that they stop, it might have been more productive to take a less personal, more conceptual approach to the issue.  

I’ll also take a moment to acknowledge that a small percentage of men wear makeup as well, as at least two readers pointed out. Yes, it’s true that some men wear makeup, but I considered the the number so small that I did not feel the need to mention it in the post. Also, I hardly think that young boys are being taught to need makeup by their older male counterparts. Regardless, I wish these makeup-wearing men would remove their makeup as well.

Even more so.

Lastly, I’d like to end with a quote from a reader that I simply adored. She said:

“I don't wear make up because I feel like I'm apologizing for my face if I do.”

I suspect that I will be using that quote often.