OHBT Project



Women wear makeup in Canadian society either because they are insecure about their real appearances or because they want to conform to the social norm because they can face unacceptance in society for not wearing makeup. There are also women who want to wear makeup as a part of their free will, but the social norm also plays role in developing that behavior. For example, Kim Kardashian passed a negative comment on her sister Kourtney when she was not wearing makeup. Those women who cannot afford good quality and expensive makeup products or those who do not want to wear makeup as a social norm find this nom to be oppressive. I want to challenge this norm to change the ideas of women beauty, to free women from social pressure, and to promote acceptance towards one’s real beauty.   Women are believed to have perfect bodies and the idea is articulated throughout mass media. The norm of wearing makeup dates back to ancient Egyptian era where Cleopatra used lipstick as a makeup item. But, that was a long time ago, only royal and high class females were allowed to wear makeup. Makeup grew as a social norm for women in 1920s and 1930s and the fashion and makeup industries are growing ever since. However, this social norm of wearing makeup is not a healthy norm because it depicts women to have perfection in every aspect of their lives. They have to look perfect to meet the social expectations. Wearing makeup creates an incorrect idea of beauty where women have to have the flaws on their faces covered. This can also negatively affect the other women who do not have perfect skins and do not like to wear makeup.  This essay is aimed at challenging this social norm by thoroughly examining its causes and designing an experiment as a way to challenge the norm. 

In my experiment, I would go out without wearing makeup for a period of one week. This will help me to record the initial social reaction to our without-makeup faces and to see how my continuous behavior is accepted or rejected by my surroundings. This experiment will take place in the places where I have  physical presence; my building, on line and the places where I would go out. 

I tried not wearing makeup for one week. I would wake up in the morning, was my face with cleanser, apply sunscreen and moisturizer on my face and head out or do my personal meetings online during covid. The first day of my experiment was challenging because i would be asked if anything was wrong with me because i was not wearing makeup, they asked if I was tense and dealing with some difficult situation in my live. I  went out to eat and i  attracted some gazes because i am a female, i was not wearing any makeup. People seemed to think something was terribly wrong with with my mental and physical health.   The experiment was difficult in the beginning as I invited gazes and question. However, everyone in our surroundings got accustomed to our bare faces within 2 and the rest of the period of experiment was easy and I enjoyed having no pressure of wearing makeup. I believe that we can easily continue our behavior of not wearing makeup in the long run. There would be no change in our daily life but we may face difficulty while dating. This is because I may not wear makeup and our surrounding grow accustomed to it, but a larger part of society would take long to change the set stereotypes and set standards of beauty. 

My experiment was very simple and basic and I decided to do it without giving much thought to preparation. I could have talked to my friends about the social norm of wearing makeup and tell them my perspective about it. This way my first day would be easier than it was. My experiment turned out exactly as I thought it would. I was hoping that people would be shocked at first, find it hard to accept a face without makeup, and then they will grow accustomed to it and take it to be normal to not wear any makeup. My location and identity played a great role. My location was my home community where people notice what a person is wearing, so the change and a reaction to it had to come. On the places where i would hang out like in my building, online,  restaurants or even just walking into a store are also the places where it is a norm to wear makeup and be all dolled up. Being a female made the experiment more interesting and challenging because we had to apply everything on ourselves and face the reactions. I found my experiment to be very practical and I would carry out the same experiment if I have to, without changing anything. 

The inference drawn from the above discussion is that all the social norms are not healthy and expecting women to wear makeup in all social settings set a false beauty standards that can be detrimental for mental health of many women. Challenging this norm is need of the time and it is not difficult to change society’s perspective as it was proved by the experiment.

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Buegeler, C. (2016). Makeup, Your Mind: Social Expectations and Perceptions of Makeup Use (Doctoral dissertation, Brandeis University).

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Ruffini, K. (2018) Kim Kardashian’s Comments About Kourtney’s Looks Are Uncalled For In This New ‘KUWTK’ Clip, retrieved 15-02-2021, from https://www.elitedaily.com/p/kim-kardashians-comments-about-kourtneys-looks-are-uncalled-for-in-this-new-kuwtk-clip-9958935

The female gaze (2016) Makeup, Social Expectations, and the Construction of Identity, retrieved 15-02-2021, from https://thefemalegaze.org/2016/05/01/makeup-social-expectations-and-the-construction-of-identity/

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