A note on the bigger picture

A question niggles. Do I fly in the faces of my feminist foremothers by writing about girly facepaint?

Makeup is a girly pursuit. Maybe the girliest there is. It’s about pretty colours and packaging, and it’s about let’s pretend and make-believe. Sparkle and shimmer. It’s about having your own special box of magic tricks that transform you into someone else.

Someone with bigger eyes and more flawless skin and brighter softer lips – i.e. someone who fits very properly into the shackled and neutered sexist horror-show that culminates in crap like “Mow The Lawn” (which incidentally has now caused Wilkinson Sword products to be banned from my bathroom).

Wait though, no. I come from enlightened liberal stock, don’t it? My radar is well-tuned to the plight of the downtrodden and the throb of the bleeding heart. I’ve read my “Female Eunuch” and “Our Bodies Ourselves”. I know that shaving my legs (plucking my eyebrows, concealing my pustules and indeed wearing a bra rather than burning it) is a matter of choice. I have a relationship with a man whose appreciation doesn’t fluctuate if they (the legs) are shaved or not and I know that’s the way it should be.

Does that mean I can’t appreciate the lure of a beautifully packaged palette of eyeshadows, and the escapist glamour of a new colour collection? Is this some Girl Power hypocrisy, a vacuous denial of everything that went before?

I know it’s make-believe. I know it’s just a game, dressing up, making pretty fantasy out of the kind of reality that hasn’t eaten or slept as well as she should have and is looking a little jowly there after too many takeaways maybe.

I know it’s not ME. I know it’s not who I am. I know it comes off with cotton wool and cold cream. It’s a hobby, not a measure of self-worth. If it’s a mask, it’s a temporary masquerade – and the real face behind it is no secret, and has nothing to hide.

Just so you know who you’re talking to here.


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