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The Effects of Makeup on Self Esteem and Personal Perception

Beauty & Style

Picture this: it’s 6:00 on a Monday morning and you’re just waking up to get ready for school. You use the bathroom, wash your hands, brush your teeth, wash your face. You change your clothes, put your books out, and when it gets time for you to put your makeup on, you reach for your highlighter, foundation, concealer, fake lashes, bronzer, mascara, eyelash curler, lip liner, lip tint, lash glue, and whatever else you use for your inefficient and unnecessary makeup look.

So begin the tedious process of gluing your lashes, caking your face up, and glossing your lips. However, deep down, you don’t feel like your true self with all of these products on your face. You think about how you’ll have to remove your appearance with micellar water, wash your face thoroughly, and clean your lashes. You think about the breakout you'll get and how suffocated your skin feels, with all the oils from your makeup products clogging and polluting your pores.

1. Self-Esteem & Self-Image

The idea of makeup was first that it was to make your natural beauty more pronounced, and bring out your features. Only with time has it eventually gotten to the point where makeup is used to completely change, exaggerate, and to alter your appearance.The idea of having to use a number of products on your face to achieve an unnatural look that is not true to who you are naturally, every day, will not only tire you out physically, but it'll do a number on your self-esteem as well. That's not to say that this goes for everyone, as there are definitely those who enjoy using heavy makeup for reasons other than hiding themselves or changing themselves, such as for costume or cosmetic exaggeration as a specific look. Rather, it's the intention you have when doing your makeup. If you feel you absolutely cannot be seen by others with a clean face, then obviously, you have some inner issues to deal with.

Most teenage girls in high school feel the need to use makeup to be able to look at themselves in the mirror, and even then, they're still not satisfied with their look. The use of cosmetics to change yourself leads to a negative perception of oneself. It makes it difficult to look at yourself in the mirror without beating yourself up over how ugly you are, and eventually, a natural effect of your dependence on products to feel normal will make you start to feel unattractive even after you've put a full face on.

Not only does this habit affect your self-image, it also takes a toll on your skin. In most cases, you tend to breakout, or your pores will at least clog up, due to all the oils in foundations, primers, concealers, causing all sorts of different types of acne. And as this new issue begins to take its toll on you, the vicious cycle of makeup use will only worsen, as your self-esteem will reach rock bottom. One thing that should never be underestimated is the effect that acne, let alone any skin problem, can have on someone. It can completely destroy any self-esteem you have left.

2. The Male Gaze

Another common reason for the use of cosmetics is to garner the attention of the male gaze. This has proven to be a common misconception between men and women, as women tend to feel more appealing to men with the use of makeup. However, several studies have shown that men find women more appealing when they wear their natural face, as opposed to the former. This phenomenon can also be observed in daily life, whether you ask a group of high schoolers, or middle-aged men. The majority of them will answer naturally.

And in any case, if you come across a man who makes it clear to you that he finds you more attractive with makeup on, it will make it obvious that he doesn't want you for your personality, your actions, your morals, what's on the inside; rather just your looks and your physical beauty. Most women would take this as them being ugly. However, this only tells us one thing: that the man you are after is superficial and, most likely, not a good person, not worth your time.

3. Freedom & Self-Expression

These days, makeup is advertised to us as freeing a woman, and allowing her to express herself. Self-expression today is taught to women and young girls alike: that you need to alter and advertise others to prove yourself, to truly be free. This is, in most cases, false. Most girls do not start wearing makeup because they want to show the world that they are a "girl boss". They do so because of peer pressure from those around them, be it their classmates, their family, siblings, and most especially the media.

The application of makeup for most women began in high school and middle school, beginning as the urge to feel more mature, and eventually evolving into the desire to feel beautiful, as they see the models on TV, magazines, in stores, etc. Usually, people begin to feel that if they don't wear makeup, they won't have any worth, and that they'll be horribly unattractive without it.

4. Dehumanization & Objectification

This brings up another point: that the excessive use of makeup will make you more susceptible to dehumanization, as well as objectification by men. Ever wonder why your father is so strict about you wearing makeup? Because he understands that other men will have the intention of objectifying you for your physical beauty, rather than to want you for other things such as your personality. There are always exceptions, but as a woman, its best to always expect the worst of men you don't know personally and to never let your guard down. That's not to say that you should never wear makeup in the presence of a man, and, of course, a man should lower his gaze and be respectful, but its best to keep yourself mostly natural and keep a minimal look to prevent men from trying to take advantage of you and decreasing you from a person to simply a plaything, or eye candy. It's best to beautify yourself in a space where you trust those around you, where you feel comfortable and free of judgment.

5. Media & False Advertising

These days, what we see advertised in the media are products worn by edited models that make us feel like we need these materialistic items to feel beautiful. Those fancified makeup products flaunt the best coverage, smoothest application, the cleanest look. This creates unnecessary and unnatural expectations for us as women to meet, and a great load of pressure and anxiety is put onto us if we don't feel like we meet these expectations. Even those who are aware of the tactics used in the media to get money and clout fall prey to these worries and insecurities.

In truth, nobody is beautiful all the time, and even your favorite models, who look ethereal in magazines and ads, advertising makeup products or clothes, are normal people who have their bad days. In the end, we are all human, we are never perfect all the time, even those who are privileged with money can not escape the natural flaws that befall us as humans, whether it’s stretch marks, hyperpigmentation, a little bit of extra weight, eye bags, wrinkles, aging, etc.

In the end, what we should focus on is moving towards the goal of feeling beautiful and confident in our natural appearance, and making ourselves happy with who we are as people deep down, rather than trying to make others satisfied with our appearances.

Nura Abdalla

Nura Abdalla is a high school freshman in New York. She enjoys volleyball, rollerskating, and shopping. She dedicates her time to trying new things and gaining experience. She loves to write about fashion, beauty, and wellness.