Marina Watanabe got a ridiculous comment on one of her videos – it had nothing to do with her message, but everything to do with her face.
You’re probably familiar with the constant pressure on women to meet an impossible beauty standard. It can make you feel like you have to cover up every blemish.
But even when men say things like “I prefer you without makeup,” they’re adding pressure – because at the end of the day, nobody else should be telling you what to do with your face.
Here’s Marina’s empowering reminder of why.
The Editors at Everyday Feminism
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So, I recently received a comment that made me slightly angry, just a little bit PO-ed. It said:
Marina, this is extremely sad. Please cease barking up the wrong tree. Pretty yourself up and make yourself attractive to the opposite sex. Become the recipient of male attention, feel better about yourself, feel desired, find a good guy, find love and fill that giant, empty, depressing black hole in your heart that comes from a lack of personal relationships.
This was a comment on a video about sexual harassment, mind you, so I’ve got some feelings, some emotions, some burning rage, perhaps.
Let’s just completely ignore the fact that this was a video talking about unwanted male attention from strangers on the street. This was not a video about finding love. This was a video about not wanting to be sexually harassed when I’m going about my day, trying to get shit done and not wanting to deal with gross comments from men that I have no desire or intention of ever getting to know.
But whatever, I said pretty much everything I wanted and needed to say in that video which I will link if you want to watch. That is not what I want to talk about today.
Part of the reason I wanted to address this comment today was because Cristen of Stuff Mom Never Told You, which is one of my favorite YouTube channels/podcasts, just put out a video addressing a similar comment from a man commenting on her makeup and appearance rather than the content of the video.
I think this was pretty basic. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about it on this channel before. I have definitely talked about it on Tumblr and Twitter, but apparently it needs some reiterating.
Makeup is a bit of a complicated subject because there are many different lenses that you can view it from. You guys know just how much I love talking about lenses. There are definitely many social pressures in place that pressure women into wearing makeup. The beauty industry obviously is a big one that targets women’s self-esteem and points out flaws that might not even occur to them in order to get them to buy their products.
We are also constantly bombarded with images of impossibly beautiful women. They have their hair and makeup professionally done. They have the perfect lighting in order to highlight certain features and camouflage others. Most of the time these images are also photoshopped, so the women in these pictures don’t even really look the way that they are being portrayed as. Basic 101, obvious stuff.
There have also been numerous court cases where women refused to wear makeup at work just for personal reasons. Maybe they don’t like how it feels, maybe they prefer a natural look. There are a number of reasons why women might choose not to wear makeup. Then they’ll get comments from employers saying things like, “You look tired” or “unprofessional,” and then they’ll be asked to wear makeup. If they don’t comply, then their job is put into jeopardy.
I’ve also seen posts online from women lamenting, lamenting—I don’t know how to say it—the fact that men look great without having to wear makeup, whereas women are unattractive when they don’t wear makeup. There is no objective difference between a barefaced man and a barefaced woman. We’re just so used to seeing images of digitally altered women wearing full faces of makeup, and generally it’s cool, and in professional settings, women tend to wear some amount of makeup. That’s what you’ve been conditioned to think is normal.
We’re used to women covering up any flaws or blemishes on their face. When we see a women who doesn’t wear makeup, we zero in on any imperfection. Perfect face becomes normalized, and the image of an imperfect barefaced woman is disheveled and unattractive.
Then we see a push back to this from well-meaning men who are aware that women are socialized and often pressured to wear makeup. They give their two cents on the matter even if it’s not really asked for. They say things like, “I think you look beautiful without makeup. I prefer it. You shouldn’t wear any because you’re just so pretty without it.” Without realizing that they are only adding to this pressure by telling women yet again what they should or shouldn’t do with their face.
This is what I like to call the One Direction school of thought. “You are insecure, don’t know what for, don’t need makeup to cover up.” Maybe they are insecure because people are constantly telling them what to do and what not to do with their face. Maybe.
Also, I just need to point out that there is this whole push from nice guys who tell women that they prefer a natural look, but really they aren’t familiar with makeup most of the time. They don’t know how much makeup a women is wearing. A lot of women put quite a bit of work into putting on the perfect amount of makeup so it looks natural.
They see this and think, “Oh, this is what women look like without makeup because it looks so natural.” Then when they actually see a women without makeup on, they are just like, “Oh, why does she look like this?” That’s why it’s so frustrating to see comments from ignorant men who 99% of the time have no idea how much makeup I’m wearing.
Because, hey, if I’m saying words, maybe what is on my face or what I do to my hair or what clothes I’m wearing have nothing to do with that. Unless I am specifically discussing makeup right now, which, sorry, is still not an invitation to comment on it, most of the time, I don’t want your opinion.
There is also this whole idea of “choice feminism” where whether or not a woman chooses to wear makeup or not to wear makeup is inherently feminist because she is making that decision for herself, which I understand is a nice idea in theory.
We also need to recognize that there are a lot of social pressures in place, and women don’t make decisions usually in a vacuum. Makeup in itself is objectively neutral. All the meanings that we attach to it are socially constructed. Even though those meanings are socially constructive, they still can have very real effects on the way that women are perceived and judged.
Basically, if you wear makeup, that’s fine. If you don’t wear makeup, that’s also fine. There are also a lot of self-esteem issues that can arise from the ridiculous beauty standards placed on women. It’s understandable why a woman might not feel comfortable going out without makeup on. Wearing makeup or not wearing makeup doesn’t make you better or worse. It’s just something that you do with your face.
There is also quite a bit of creativity and self-expression that can go into wearing makeup. I think makeup artists are fucking wizards and have magic powers. It can definitely be a very legitimate, creative outlet and form of art.
Again, I go back to addressing the original comment because I kind of just went on a little makeup tangent. “Pretty yourself up and make yourself attractive to the opposite sex.” I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I have days where I’m not feeling too great about my face, and I’ll put on makeup to make myself feel pretty. However, makeup is also definitely a creative outlet for me. I think if I was only trying to make myself attractive to other people, I probably wouldn’t be wearing bright ass lipstick and eye shadow all the time.
Also, whether or not I wear makeup has nothing to do with my personal relationships with other people, particularly men. I couldn’t really care less if I’m attractive to you because a) I don’t fucking know you, and b) your personal opinions have no bearing on my life. C) That giant, empty, depressing black hole in my heart, it’s just something that’s there because I’m the spawn of Satan.
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Marina Watanabe is a Contributing Vlogger for Everyday Feminism and a vlogger, blogger, overenthusiastic tweeter, college student, and creator of embarrassing literary tees. Check out her Tumblr, or follow her on Twitter @marinashutup!