A Feminist Study In Makeup
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For a long time, the nature and use of makeup has been troubling feminists all over the globe. While for some it is considered to be a tool of oppression used to control and suppress people (mostly women or female presenting folk), others argue that it has been reclaimed by them and used to self-empower, inspire, and promote feminist politics in the form of art and activism. Lastly, there are also people who view it as nothing but pigments and brushes that are not attached to a certain agenda. While this argument is partially subjective due to the human factor, and therefore cannot be concluded indefinitely, the aim of this paper is to expand on different perspectives on makeup. This happens through research among the theories of Michel Foucault from the 1970’s, other feminist philosophers’, writers and academics’ who were later inspired by him, as well as young feminist scholars of today. Combined with a makeup project, this research paper aims to extend beyond the opinions of right or wrong and explore the grey area of subjectivity that makes makeup personal to each individual. After analyzing some existing theories, mainly Michel Foucault’s biopolitics theory, I explore different viewpoints that challenge these theories by referencing makeup artists and trends that have made an impact in the online makeup community. Through different hashtags, trends, and individual internet platforms, these artists have been challenging the notions of beauty and gender and raising awareness of topics such as disability, domestic abuse, mental health and LGBTQIAP+ issues. Last but not least, through my makeup project I shed light on my feminist peers in order to examine how their individual opinions play in with the rest of the different viewpoints expressed throughout the paper. I wanted to see how these theories hold up today and whether they are still relevant today. I conclude with the thought that the conversation about makeup is –and should be- ongoing and constantly evolving with the times. There can never be a certain definitive answer on whether makeup is malicious, provocative, empowering, healing, or oppressive, because it simply is all of the above and much more all at the same time. It is just a matter of perspective and the power of the individual to use this tool as they see fit.