feminist makeup

Portrait of the editor with her favorite red lipstick.

photo: Alle / Revelist

Hello, world. My name is Alle. I'm a beauty editor — and I'm also a feminist.

You'd be amazed at how completely that sentence throws some people. As if "loves eye shadow" and "is an enlightened, socially aware person" are two opposite ends of a wokeness spectrum.

Nowhere is this ~*shock and confusion*~ more dramatic than on social media. Whenever I have an opinion on Twitter, strange dudes slide into my mentions to A) tell me I'm wrong, and B) interrogate me about how, exactly, I reconcile feminism with being a beauty editor.

Because obviously, you can't believe that women deserve equality and also love lipstick. That would be insane.

I don't argue with every neckbeard who tries to step to me, but I do, obviously, observe the arguments they attempt to make. Here are the six reasons I'm told that I CANNOT POSSIBLY be a feminist and love makeup.

1. Makeup is stupid and a waste of time. It’s so vain and vapid; what’s the point?

photo: Disney

What is, indeed, the point of anything? We’re all going to die eventually, why not just sit back and slump wetly into the inevitable decay?


Beauty is only stupid if you live in Male Privilege Fantasy World. Makeup, and “being well-groomed” is widely considered an essential part of womanhood, affecting everything from how you’re perceived on dates to how competent you're thought to be at work

So the POINT of makeup, at the most basic level, is to survive in a world that still places a lot of value on the way women look. Additionally, have you ever applied red lipstick? That shit's fun as hell.

It's also worth noting that people only ever talk this way about things like fashion, makeup, and hairstyling — creative careers usually dominated by women. Nobody ever says that there's no point to the NFL, or that getting plugs to fix your bald spot is vain.

It’s almost like traditionally feminine accomplishments are looked down on in our society or something! Crazy, right?

2. Makeup is a tool of the patriarchy, designed to oppress women and keep them in their places.

photo: Giphy

You know what? Valid! BASICALLY EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD is a tool of the patriarchy designed to keep women in their places, because it wouldn’t be the patriarchy if it didn’t have immense control over aspects of everyone’s lives.

If we didn’t engage with everything that’s rooted in sexist bullshit, we legit would not be able to exist in this world. Like, could I even breathe? Sounds like the dude who discovered oxygen was kind of a dick!

Makeup's history is heavily influenced by what pops cis-hetero dude boners. But that's not how it is anymore. In The Year of Our Lord Beyonce 2018, we've reclaimed makeup and beauty for ourselves. We’ve taken the tools designed to make us fit in, and we use them to stand out. There's nothing more feminist than insisting the world see us AS WE WANT TO BE SEEN — and that's what makeup is.

For example, I want to be seen as a terrifying badass with flawless eyeliner skills. Voila!

A photo posted by Alle Connell (@helloalle) on

Finally, one could also make the argument that forcing women to defend every swipe of eye shadow that’s ever touched her face MAY ALSO BE a tool of distraction designed to keep women in their place. But that’s none of my business *sips tea*

3. Makeup hurts young women, and if you wear it, you're giving the next generation unrealistic ideas about what adult womanhood should be.

overanalzing magazine
photo: Adweek

This is a tough one for me personally, because yeah, there's a lot that's messed up about the beauty industry. And that messed-up stuff can — and does — affect young women. It definitely affected me.

I remember being a really sad teenager. I remember thinking that maybe if I could just be pretty, life would be better. I remember looking at magazines and feeling worse about myself. I lived through all of that, just like a lot of you did.

But you know what? It wasn’t makeup that did that to me.

Makeup doesn’t hurt young women. Society hurts young women. Makeup isn’t telling girls that they’re wrong the way they are — that’s advertising, Photoshop, the insane idealization of a single body type, institutional racism, the baked-in notion that women are only “good” if they’re attractive. SOCIETY — and yes, The Patriarchy — is doing that.

Beauty its a reflection of the world we live in, not the reason it is this way. Blaming makeup, and by extension blaming women, for those issues is a level of fucked up I couldn’t reach if I stood on a ladder.

pink glitter makeup
photo: Alle / Revelist

Makeup is concealer on a bad skin day, something that can make any teenage girl (or grown-ass woman) feel a bit better about bullshit hormonal acne.

Makeup is black lipstick and experimenting with your identity when you’re 13. And at 24. And 32.

Makeup is rainbow freckles and pointillist cat eyes. Makeup helped me find out who I was — and I am a queen. It gave me a voice and a creative outlet, and eventually it gave me a career as a beauty editor.

Makeup is the reason I have a cool, independent life helping other people feel fucking incredible about themselves. I am being the change I want to see in the beauty world, and if that’s anti-feminist, I’ll eat my hat.

4. You only wear makeup because you hate yourself, otherwise why would you need to HIDE?

Nobody can tell anything about your self-esteem by how much or what type of makeup you wear. My morning highlighting routine is about shining like a radiant angel, not “hiding who I truly am” and nobody else gets to Mansplain that that’s *really* what I’m doing.

Women are perfectly capable of demanding equal treatment while also wearing amazing lipstick. Just in case you didn’t notice.

5. If you say you wear makeup for yourself, you're lying.

photo: Alle / Revelist

O RLY? Tell me more about how *you* know more about the inside of my head than *me*

Anyway. The question here is, if I lived in an alternate universe where wearing makeup were NOT an essential part of adult womanhood, would I still choose to wear it? I don't know! Societal pressures have unconsciously affected the things we do and like, and teasing that apart is basically impossible!

Here is what I know, though:

I know that I am comfortable not wearing makeup to work, to parties, and in photos. I don't know that I'd be comfortable going to a job interview without it.

I know that even on days when I don't "have" to wear it — weekends, holidays, running errands — I often decide to. Sometimes I get really elaborate with it, because it's only "wasting makeup" if you feel it's wasted.

And I know that at some point, you like what you like. It's good to examine those relationships sometimes, but don't kill yourself over it — at the end of the day, this is the world we live in. All we can do is ask ourselves how we can make it better, not engage in weird thought experiments about alternate universes.

6. Makeup is for the weak. If you wear it, it means you hate your Feminist sisters, and you will be banished from our man-hating witch coven on the moon FOREVER.

photo: FX/Giphy

Fooled you! This actually isn’t an argument made by any feminists, ever. This is an imaginary argument made up by sad man-babies trying to divide us. Because sure, let's make it look like the issue is lipstick, when it’s really how can make the feminist movement truly intersectional and accommodating?

Although, let’s be real: if there WAS a feminist witch coven on the moon, I’d be there.