Words From A Stranger To This Dad’s Daughter (From The Makeup Aisle)

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183215294Dear ‘Little One’,

Recently your father wrote you an article in the Huffington Post all about how he finds makeup aisles “very oppressive” and how he wants you to be delivered ” through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of your own worthiness and beauty.”

Calling a pile of lipsticks and nail polish a gauntlet of institutionalized shame is a bit overdramatic, and Little One, I’m here to tell you that your dad is wrong.

Now, now, I know it’s sort of going after low hanging fruit to criticize a dude writing about makeup on the Internet. I’m sure your dad means well and I think it is super lovely he is basically telling you not to base your worth on what the advertisements on the foundation packages and the headlines of Como mag tell you. As the mom of my own daughter, I’m teaching my girl the same and I do think it’s important that we raise our daughters not to base their self-worth on what the media tells them in regard to how they should look.

But there are a few points I take issue with.

Makeup isn’t the problem. Little One, I consider myself a feminist. A loud, abrasive, unabashed feminist who speaks out about the hyper-sexualization of girls and women, who cares about issues that affect women and girls, who does everything in my power to speak up and out again female oppression.

I also own roughly 300 lipsticks.

And I know so many people, who are also advocates, who also call themselves feminists who are the same. You can wear all the nail polish, and glitter eyeshadow and fake eyelashes and concealer and be the same.

Strong women wear makeup. Women who have zero interest in women’s issues wear makeup. It’s just makeup. It comes off with water. And you should be allowed to wear it or not wear it or wear it some days and other days not put a smear of it on. It is your body, and your face, and as much as I’m sure your dad loves you and cares for you please don’t let any man, regardless of who he is, even if it is your father, tell you otherwise.

Your dad also warns you against being “naked” and even though this term is being used to describe makeup foundation, he instead suggests you :

The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your gloves off. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.


Which again, nice sentiment, but there is nothing wrong with being “naked” – whether that be in regard to being actually no-clothes-on-naked to wearing makeup that gives you a bare-faced look. I’m a strong woman. I’m also naked sometimes. No father wants to think of their daughter being naked, but as long as you are happy and healthy and consensual there ain’t nothing wrong with being naked. And go ahead and pull no punches and embrace risk but also take your clothes off when you and only you feel it is right for you.

Your dad says he:

I wrote this first for her and the day I’ll eventually read it to her. But I also wrote it for every woman who needs to hear the words of a father. Women, no one else can define your beauty for you. But they’ll try.

And cool story ‘bro. Great. But here’s the thing Little One, you all probably end up like a lot of women are. You’ll see the magazine headlines that tell you how to Look Younger! Be More Beautiful! Learn The Secrets To Perfect Eyeshadow! and you’ll see the displays of foundations and powders and shimmery lipsticks and sparkly nail polishes and you’ll get it. You’re not dumb Little One. You’ll know that advertisements lie, and that cover girls are airbrushed, and that nothing sold in a bottle can make you a better, stronger, more worthwhile woman.

And that it’s just sometimes fun to play with. And not play with. And explore and discover and ignore and start all over again. What you put on or not put on your face has nothing to do with the person you are inside. Wearing makeup doesn’t mean you are less than. Not wearing makeup doesn’t mean you are more than. No amount of wearing makeup or not wearing makeup changes the sort of human you are in your heart.

You can remind your dad of this.

(Image: getty images)