Why Women Wear Makeup


Senior at CHS, Kea Von Emden, without makeup on. Photo taken by Kate Burns.

On average, women spend about 55 minutes on their looks every day, according to a report by AOL and TODAY from the Women’s Health Mag website. If added up for an entire year, those 55 minutes turn into 334 hours and 35 minutes of “putting your face on.” Women expend a lot of time and energy making themselves look “appealing” to society by enhancing their natural feminine features with makeup and other beauty products. What drives 78 percent of 2,200 women, in the Women’s Health Mag survey, to consume 14 days of their life each year with this obsession of looking “presentable?”

“The indication that biological entities prefer to pass on favorable genes to their offspring can be traced back to Darwin’s theory of natural selection,” said Rania Kaoukis, a professor from Purdue University Calumet. In most mammalian species, the male is more dependent on looks for reproductive success and looks much more astounding than the female. An example of this is the lion and the lioness, where the male looks magnificent and the female looks rather dull. This means that most men prefer above average femininity in women’s physiques and facial structures because physical femininity has been related to “fertility and fecundity” in retrospect.

In addition, men have become less dependent on their attractiveness because of the way human intelligence has developed. Women tend to be more attracted to men through abilities uniquely associated with intelligence such as writing ability, artistic talents or having a sense of humor. Since most women share a similar concept of an “ideal man,” there is more competition between women for these men because there are so few of them. Hypothetically, the few that do exist will naturally select the best looking women. Therefore, women may feel pressure to wear makeup and beautify themselves to live up to men’s standards.

“I think [wearing makeup] is more of a choice if you want to wear it or not,” said Violet Webster, a junior at Community High School. “Considering society’s standards of beauty, lots of people wear it but it’s their choice to express themselves or to make themselves feel prettier if they feel unpretty.” Webster does not feel pressure to spend an excessive amount of time primping in the morning. It takes her about ten minutes to put on makeup if she decides to wear it – and she rarely does. She doesn’t stress about impressing anyone; makeup is not a necessity in her opinion. If she wants to wear makeup, she wears it for herself.

In contrast, Kelsey Albig, a sophomore at Community High School, wears makeup regularly. “It makes me feel more confident in myself,” Albig said. “I feel more presentable when I wear it.” Although putting on makeup is a typical step in her daily routine, Albig only wears it for one person: herself.

Kayann Berger, a sophomore at Community High school, sees both sides. “A lot of girls are like, ‘Well, I want to be pretty,’ so they put on makeup,” Berger said. “But then guys say, ‘We don’t want girls to wear makeup,’ but then they’ll say, ‘Why isn’t she wearing any makeup?’ when a girl doesn’t wear makeup.”

Judgement for wearing makeup and not wearing makeup is prominent. It’s hard for women to win in either situation. If they wear too much they look “displeasing” and if they don’t wear it at all they look “unprofessional.” Makeup has become such an imposing standard in society that some people think it’s strange if women don’t wear makeup.

“It’s like people want me to wear it,” Berger said. “If anything it makes me feel more put down.”

This doesn’t seem to bother Kea Von Emden, a senior at Community High School. “I usually don’t wear makeup,” she said. “I feel uncomfortable with it and I don’t really have enough time in the morning to put it on.” Von Emden prefers to keep makeup off of her skin. In her opinion, wearing too much makeup can clog up pores on the face, which potentially causes acne.

Despite her reasoning, she still understands why some women choose to wear makeup. “I don’t judge people that wear makeup,” Von Emden said. “I think that it’s their decision, but there’s a point where someone is wearing too much and I think everyone can tell.”

On the contrary, Webster revels in seeing others experiment with makeup even if she doesn’t always wear it herself. “I appreciate that they’re putting in the effort to make themselves look good,” Webster said. “It’s kind of admirable in a way.” She enjoys the vicarious confidence of watching other people display their makeup creations.

“I just feel like I want to put myself out there more when I’m wearing makeup,” Webster said. “It’s worth [putting time into]. If I like how I look then I think it’s worth it.”

Nevertheless, it’s important to realize that makeup is not a necessity for everyone. “My mom always says: it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” Berger said. “So, I don’t really judge people for [wearing it or not wearing it].”

Moreover, wearing makeup is a choice. In most women’s opinions there isn’t a right or wrong choice if they’re happy with they way they look and feel. “If someone chooses to wear makeup or chooses not to I wouldn’t judge them either way,” Albig said. “For some people it’s fun and worth it, and for others it’s not. Makeup is just a fun tool that anyone can use.”