Haute Off the Press: Should You Mind Men's Opinions About Makeup?
Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with lipstick, laser treatments and eyeliner.
Men can have strong feelings about makeup.
I first discovered this at the age of 10, when a glamour shot of Marilyn Monroe in which she prominently shows off a glossy red manicure inspired me to paint my nails. I pillaged through my mom's beauty drawer filled with Jean Naté fragrance and Lancôme lipstick and triumphantly found a bottle of fiery polish wedged into the corner.
I later sat satisfied, admiring my haphazard accomplishment when the fumes lured my dad into the bathroom. He stood squinting at my manicure. "Boys hate that stuff," he said decidedly. "They don't like makeup or nail polish on girls."
Years later as a teenager, the scene repeated as I experimented with smoky eyes ("Who punched you?" my dad asked), bright eyeliner ("It looks like you have pink eye," he exclaimed) and that trademark plum lip shade of the '90s ("Do you have frostbite?" he questioned).
And so it goes: alongside my dad, most men are perplexed by makeup trends. Many women are told by well-intentioned boyfriends and husbands that we look better without the shimmery stuff, and most beautiful in our natural state. Yet we persist in playing with pigment, always in search of that perfect lipstick shade and squealing with delight when a new must-have finds its way into our cosmetic bag.
It's often perceived that women wear makeup to appear more attractive to men. But if the opposite sex is more baffled than besotted by it, why exactly do we do it?
I line my eyes a certain way and wear soft pink lip color because it pleases me most when I look in the mirror. Looking down at a freshly filed and painted manicure makes me feel more pulled together and even more in control. And if I have a smooth, voluminous blowout? Watch out, world.
Also, in the same way that women often admit they dress up for other women, I wonder if we similarly get "done up" for other women since most men prefer us "undone."
Really, does anything brighten your day like an unexpected compliment from a woman? Whether it's how great your hair looks, how perfect your blush technique or how you must write down the name of that mascara because she just has to try it, the instant connection with another woman is warm and invigorating.
Perhaps makeup is both a self-enrichment and bonding experience shared by the feminine. No matter our upbringings, political persuasions or goals, we can connect on the universal desire to feel good about ourselves. And if the boys don't get it, too bad.