Why makeup is a sign of feminist emancipation today

05.12.2018 | By ELENA LONGARI

Beyond the whole ‘makeup and feminism’ thing

Minimalistic makeup, highlighting, contouring, boys wearing makeup, transgenders being famous makeup artists. Is there even the need to talk about the stigma that being a feminist involves not wearing any makeup? Aren’t we done with stereotypes and clichés?

But hold your horses: feminism and makeup have always been seen as one the contradiction of the other. What we are about to say goes beyond a simple, ‘no, you can wear make up even if you are feminist’.

Beyond the ‘makeup is for shallow women’

We’d like to think as makeup as an expression of feminism, a symbol of emancipation, a sign of liberty, a beacon of independence, not just for women of course.

The principle that led us to consider makeup as the new frontier of a fashion and beauty revolution is that nowadays what matters in society is ‘do what you want to your body’. What matters to you, us and whoever is out there producing the most innovative eye shadow palettes and arrays of foundations needs to invest themselves with this fundamental duty:  allowing everyone to express themselves. Today society’s motto is ‘be different, and make sure you say that to the world’.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by CHANEL BEAUTY ( on

Beyond the ‘makeup for all skins’

And that’s exactly what’s happening in the world of cosmetics: it all kicked off with Rihanna about a year ago launching her Fenty Beauty line. Her aim was to create a range of foundations that would suit all skin complexions: an attempt that celebrated her own roots and of course her own personal story as woman finding the perfect foundation for her particular skin complexion.  


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA (@fentybeauty) on

This alone was probably the biggest act of feminism, or at least the first one in a long series of projects the Barbadian singers carried out in the last year. It culminated with her Savage X Fenty fashion show during NYF2018, a performance that topped her celebration of women and individuality: here women of all sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientation, as well as being pregnant, walked down the catwalk wearing her first lingerie ‘inclusive’ collection.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SAVAGE X FENTY BY RIHANNA (@savagexfenty) on

Beyond the ‘makeup makes me a worse woman’

Wearing makeup, spending good hours in front of the mirror in perfecting the perfect glow, or scribbling lines on your eyelid is no longer a futile thing only girly-girly would do to fill time instead of reading books, watching the News and learn how to spell right.

Taking care of yourself, i.e. doing whatever makes us feel good about ourselves is in fact another act of independence: think about those busy mums, those who joggle jobs, kids and laundry in a never-ending list of things to do. Makeup for them, one that enhances their features rather than hiding them would be the best, is their business card too: it says, ‘look, I’m also feminine and look after myself, I can be everything I want’.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dior Makeup (@diormakeup) on

Beyond the ‘makeup for men and makeup for women’

In an era of toxic masculinity, in an era of #metoo and AI sexual partners, there’s something refreshing about this whole feminism and makeup matter. Feminism is related to women, right? But what if we understood it differently: the bar has been raised so far beyond how women do their makeup or don’t do makeup at all as ‘old school feminists’ would do.

Just take a look at what happened with BTS, the most successful Korean Pop band so far, the one leading the way to other emerging bands such as NCT 127: gender neutrality. This is what the talented groups have been proclaiming and, guess what, a tool used for conveying this message has been makeup. Not only wearing it, and we are not talking about boys in drag, but we are looking at boys in subtle tone lipsticks as well as foundation to match their flawless skin, but actually making makeup.  BTS went beyond the ‘manly makeup’ affair  with recently launching their own ‘gender neutral’ makeup collection: the reaction on social media upon the release was ‘you will finally be able to look like your fav K-pop band’.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BTS official (@bts.bighitofficial) on

Beyond the ‘men in makeup are gay’

Men like women: yes, and we are talking about luxury brands too. Chanel recently launched their makeup line for men, represented by manly man, allow us, rather than the obvious stereotype that could come to mind. Why is this related to feminism? It abolishes the stereotype, or better it contradicts it, the one according to which only women need makeup to look decent.

Are we beyond the feminism and makeup thing then?

Not yet, or better, there are other cases that contradict our theory

In South Korea they will strongly disagree with all the aboves. A nation so obsessed with plastic surgery and makeup that campaign such as ‘escape the corset’ have started rising.Groups like that are ‘rebelling’ against the society’s rigid standards: they are inspired by the #metoo movement, and they, do not agree with K-Pop beauty standards at all, neither with the Korean skin care routine. They say: if we have to apply 10 products even before putting on makeup, well, that defines the problem straight up.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jieun (@hannam_goto_hangang) on