Hannah Peck

Painted Faces

By Hannah Peck

For all the talk there is out there concerning the male gaze, objectification and sexualisation, (none of which I am discrediting) I have recently begun to ponder if the most poignant way women are objectified is by themselves, or oneself.

I for one could happily yak away to whoever wanted to listen (note – a swiftly dwindling number of people) about the way women are encouraged to polish and perfect every inch of skin in order to look like an incarnation of Barbie, yet when faced with the prospect of getting ready for a night out I find myself more concerned with my routine existential eye-shadow crisis – Magic Banana or Ginger Spice?! -(May I add that despite their exotic names these colours are beyond misleading, one might consider using poster paint to achieve a similar look). I find myself undergoing the very transformation I profess is ridiculous, the motives behind which I supposedly have a problem with, all in order to make myself more attractive.

As ashamed as I am to admit it, all that is gained by day in the name of facing the world (semi) au natural is undone as soon as I hear the word ‘nightclub’, which somehow re-programmes my whole way of thinking.  Suddenly applying enough foundation to put Amy Childs to shame seems like a viable life choice, as does backcombing my hair until birds could nest in it undiscovered.

All this leads me to ask a simple question; why? Although many women would argue that assertively projecting ones sexuality is empowering, I would suggest that, at least for me, this power can also be found in a deeper security, one which sheds the need for desperately running towards the sink before the effects of the eyelash glue leaves you reaching for an eye-patch.


Without passing judgment on all those ladies who do go out with the agenda to have someone grind on their bottom, I can safely say that I do not pile on the makeup and carefully select the bra I will be wearing in order to get off with a man.  Therefore the only conclusion that I can come to is that I am objectifying myself to some extent.  ‘So what?’ I hear you cry, ‘Everyone wears make-up on a night out, it’s all part of the fun’. And on one hand you, my imaginary spokesperson, are right, the majority of women who want to enjoy their night out will make a considerable effort to look nice, myself included.

However, I’m suggesting that the problem might lie in what this validates. A good time? A sense of acceptability? This routine holds the damaging potential to become consuming instead of freeing, and objectifying rather than a means by which we assert our individuality. By no means am I stating that makeup is wrong, merely opening up scope for thought in terms of where we gain our validity and worth as women.


One thought on “Painted Faces

  1. As a straight guy I really like your post, as a make-up artist I REALLY like your post.
    I believe it is important to keep asking this question at every external appearance choice, not just make-up.

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