Can We Stop Saying Women Are Lying When They’re Wearing Makeup?


There now exists a subcategory of ‘negging’ that maintains women are lying when they wear makeup.

“This is the reason I have trust issues!” some say condescendingly.

“It is false advertising!” others indignantly declare.

Recently, I happened upon an article expressing the view that makeup makes some women look like two different people. The above responses were only a small portion of the pool of criticism I read and continue to read in similar forums.

I suppose from a literal perspective, people who alter their natural appearances are not their most authentic selves; yet, if this were actually preferred, we would not cut our hair, wear clothing, shave, or have tattoos. Dress code would never have come to be. Clothing would never have conceptualized in the first place. In other words, the higher thinking abilities of humans have greatly altered any authenticity we could ever claim.

Not so remarkably, however, false advertising and dishonesty are rarely objections when women shave their legs, their armpits, and remove hair or unwanted blemishes on their bodies. Women don’t always receive a negative response when they enhance their breasts and buttocks, or when they wear clothing that amplifies those features. In fact, the activists trying to desensitize our societies to nudity and sexualization are often denigrated and shamed.

These points alone substantiate the biased selectivity of the above claims. One can further argue that these criticisms are small attempts to displace women’s own bodily autonomy.

The crux of this issue is when society approves particular changes to women’s bodies, they are acceptable, but when women decide to take their appearances into their own hands, especially in an unconventional way, out fly the accusations of deception, lies, manipulation, and immorality. Furthermore, the list of physical modifications deemed attractive is as absurd as it is capricious.

It is not only unjust, but hypocritical, for men to cherry-pick when they want and don’t want women to wear makeup. When a woman is too ugly for a man’s poor eyes to see, he tells her to wear it. However, when he is surprised that a hot chick looks different without it, she’s a liar. The question of why so many believe the superintendence of women’s bodies lies in the hands of others is a crucial one. The fact that any man can call a woman’s appearance “false advertising” — or that some men even assume women’s faces are an ‘advertisement’ — speaks to the entitlement these men feel over women.

This is not to say we are not entitled to our preferences; I have certainly had thoughts on the unsuitability of people’s choices in fashion or makeup for particular occasions. I’ve considered some people wildly over-dressed or done-up for events I deemed unworthy of such effort and vice versa. But ultimately, I have always known that a person’s body is that person’s domain. Once we begin pushing our preferences onto others, we are outside of our jurisdiction. “It simply isn’t how I would present myself,” is what we must say to ourselves, and leave it at that.

It’s no surprise that this subject is a hot button for women, particularly because we are so accustomed to the media and society instructing us — in very contradictory fashions — on how we should look. If a woman lashes out angrily, the immediate retort is often appearance- or behaviorally-based name-calling (e.g. slut, fat, or false claims about women in general).

If makeup is such a point of contention for some, I have a suggestion: take some extra time to know a person before jumping into anything serious. Research what makeup looks like on the face and then make judgment calls about attraction to a person from there. Don’t waste energy trying to change the way a person looks.

Women are not wildly different without makeup. If we can’t tell when a woman is wearing it, we deserve to be deceived; and if we are so superficial that we accept and reject others based on appearance alone, we deserve to be unhappy.