Make Up and Gender

A personal story and my view on the use of make up and gender expression.

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2016 was my final year of high school and it was a time where I was finally confident and happy with myself. In fact, I became comfortable enough to express myself and be who I am. By doing this, I would oppose toxic masculinity and wear what I wanted to wear and do what I wanted to do. However, despite me opposing the patriarchal, masculine norm in society, I found that many individuals had a problem with me being myself. This is a basic story about me wearing basic concealer and base to school one day.

For my freshman and sophomore years at high school, I was involved in plays and that was where I wore make up for the first time. Obviously it was stage make up but I liked it and I enjoyed the aesthetic benefits of it. I guess I still endorsed the norm that make up would only be worn by men if they are performers. Regardless, I began scrutinizing the gender norms that are imposed by several figures, structures and groups in society. At the same time, I was figuring out my sexual orientation and became an active feminist, acknowledging, discussing and finding ways to dismantle overt male domination in society.

Fast forward to 2016 and I am in my classroom with friends. It was maths class and the teacher was a very patriarchal, conservative man. I had put on base and concealer and no one noticed until one problematic student did. She didn’t ask me if I was wearing any make up. Instead, she blurted out in front of everyone to expose me. I was completely shocked and yes, I did feel embarrassed because I felt as if she tried to shame me for expressing myself and wearing what I wanted to wear. In addition to this, there were also problematic boys at my school who had an issue with any student who opposed the toxic masculine standards that society and the school endorsed. Fortunately, I only received a few remarks and that was about it. However, these remarks and comments did not bother me since I was quite confident in myself but for someone else who may be insecure, those remarks would have hurt and affected them a lot.

What bobbles my mind is the strange notion that people have about sexuality and gender. There is a common belief that your gender expression is as a result of your sexual orientation, which is completely bizarre and untrue. They are mutually exclusive when it comes to your identity. Of course there will be queer individuals who will challenge gender norms and expressions but using stereotypes and norms to assume someone’s gender or sexual orientation is extremely problematic and should be discouraged.

Today, I am proud to be who I am and I express myself regardless of what people say. However, unlike myself, there are others who simply cannot because of the conservative society or community around them. At the end of the day, all I wish to do is to encourage people to be themselves, to focus on building their confidence, and spreading the message of building a loving, accepting and diverse society where make up, clothing, activities and positions are not restricted to particular genders, rather, they are open to every single individual out there.

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