Makeup: love it or hate it?

Anyone you talk to will have their own answer to that question. A lot of people love makeup. A lot of people don’t.

My personal answer to the "makeup question" is that I do like makeup. I have neither the artistry nor patience to draw double cat-eye liner so sharp it could cut someone or create ombré lip looks, but I respect and applaud and wish to learn from those that can. I tend to stick to looks that I can easily create in 10 minutes or less using BB cream, mascara, eyebrow pencil, and tinted lip balm. Some days if I have more time or am more dressed up I'll wear eyeshadow or eyeliner or lipstick or highlighter.

British author Zadie Smith recently drew ire for saying that makeup was a "waste of time.” I have to disagree with her opinion in some ways. I don't think that makeup is a complete waste of time. I wear makeup because it helps me feel good. I like to use it to highlight my features, like my blue eyes. When I wear makeup, I don't wear it to impress anyone. I wear it to feel more confident in myself. When I feel confident in myself, I find myself more likely to stand up for what I want, and more likely to be sociable. Spending time in the morning putting makeup on isn’t a waste of my time. I know a lot of people who feel the same way.

However, while I disagree with Zadie Smith’s opinion that makeup is a waste of time, I think that there’s also a bigger picture to look at. Society’s view on makeup has put women in a difficult position. Young women are constantly bombarded with the idea that the only way they can be happy in life is if they look a certain way, which includes wearing makeup. If women don’t want to wear makeup, they’re told that they’re lazy, ugly slobs who probably have low self-esteem and would be more beautiful if they just tried a little harder.

By the same token, though, women are told that if they wear too much makeup (whatever “too much” may mean), they’re trying too hard and are fake and just need to embrace their natural beauty.

So which are they supposed to pick?

The answer is none of the above. Women do not owe anyone an explanation for their decisions about whether or not they want to wear makeup. If they want to create beautiful art with eyeshadow and contour palettes and makeup brushes, that’s allowed. If they couldn’t care less about mascara and foundation and lipstick, that’s allowed too.

Every woman’s opinion on makeup is their own. Zadie Smith’s opinion on makeup is her own. My opinion, that makeup isn’t inherently bad but society’s need to tell women how they should look is, is my own. Any other woman’s opinion on makeup is their own. Whatever opinion you have, it’s long past time that we let women do whatever they want when it comes to makeup.