In her essay Make up: makeup laid bare, French journalist Valentine Pétry analyzes and questions our relationship to makeup. A relationship full of contradictions: we find it both superficial and essential, because it allows in particular to have self-confidence and to affirm one’s identity. But why do we wear makeup?
“Even women who don’t wear makeup have stories to tell about it!” “Launches Valentine Pétry in an interview. The author explains that different values have been attributed to makeup for centuries and that is why our relationship to it is so ambiguous.
“Since antiquity, make-up has been considered a tool to seduce men. Women wear make-up to make themselves look beautiful, to hide their old age and to deceive men. He is regularly associated with the devil by the Christian religion. Make-up, seduction and deception are intimately linked,” she explains.
This idea will evolve over centuries, and today, there are two visions that intertwine: “The first is the idea that women wear makeup to conform to social conventions created by patriarchal societies, and putting on makeup therefore constitutes an imposed and inevitable task. Secondly, carried by the feminists of the second wave, we wear makeup to create our identity, it is a means of expression, a gain of power over ourselves,” analyzes Valentine Pétry.
She recalls in her essay that Hillary Clinton dreamed of being able to do like her male colleagues, go out natural, effortlessly. The author calculated that in 2016, during the election campaign, she spent 600 hours doing her hair and makeup, the equivalent of 25 days! And when she goes out without makeup, everyone notices.
In the public sphere, makeup is an obligatory ritual, but it can be used for political purposes, because wearing makeup on a daily basis, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat elected to the US Congress, maintains, is anything but trivial. “For her, it’s a way of asserting herself. This video that she shot for Vogue magazine was a huge success because through her beauty routine, she talks about herself, a committed, feminist, hard-working woman who uses makeup to enhance her personality. and reminds us that femininity has power. She talks about her signature: her very red lipstick, which she started wearing while going door to door. It gave him confidence. »
Valentine Pétry also talks about the launch of Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, the first major brand to make inclusion its main focus, which turned the market upside down. “There were already brands that offered ranges for all skin types, but Rihanna, planetary star, revolutionized the makeup industry by creating 40 colors of foundation launched simultaneously in 17 countries. Fenty Beauty has become essential and many brands have subsequently offered many more shades and shades for all skin types, ”analyzes the journalist.
The cosmetics industry is still very gendered. It targets women and still ignores makeup for men. Because beyond skincare, do men wear makeup? “There was the kohl of the Egyptians, the powder for the complexion of the kings of France, David Bowie… Men’s makeup is very marginal and it is even more codified than that of women. Most of the time it’s makeup that isn’t presented as makeup! It’s going to be a tinted anti-fatigue eye contour [concealer], a good-looking cream [foundation]. They have to be reassured that they are still men, which is a very caricatural vision of masculinity, still present. »
For Valentine Pétry, the cosmetics industry is selling us dreams. Economists clearly show that people still buy makeup, even in times of crisis or recession, because it is associated with pleasure. “There are real ecological and sustainability issues, there are refills in skincare and makeup, but we have to be loyal to the same product, while the industry only lives by novelty and pushes us to consume. Buying makeup is a childlike pleasure, as if we were in a candy store through the color palettes. »