Real Life. Real News. Real Voices.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Join HuffPost Plus
THE BLOG

Make-Up Mind Control

As Tyra Banks so wisely puts it, I like the "ugly-pretty." This is an intellectual interpretation of prettiness: if you don't find my shapeless clothes and lack of discernible makeup attractive, then clearly you don't understand.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

As I've said over a million times: I like makeup and clothes, and I like thinking. I don't believe the two are mutually exclusive. In fact, quite often a lot of my thinking is about both the infinitesimally small ("Which lipstick should I wear?") and infinitesimally large ("Why do we all do this?") questions about makeup and clothes. And the more I over-analyze and over-intellectualize my relationship with said clothes and makeup, the more pertinent a certain question becomes to me: Why do I like things, and why do I not?

I see my personal tastes as often made up of the ugly, the challenging and the stupid. I like contrasts: very girly things with very masculine things, very modern things with very classic things. I like sack shaped dresses and heavy shoes and bushy eyebrows. These aren't typically "pretty" ... yet they do fit a certain aesthetic that isn't totally unacceptable in modern society. As Tyra Banks so wisely puts it, I like the "ugly-pretty." This is an intellectual interpretation of prettiness: if you don't find my shapeless clothes and lack of discernible makeup attractive, then clearly you don't understand.

For example, like most people going through a crisis, I have recently decided on a drastic hair change: to go light, ashy blonde. The hair I'm aiming for is almost colorless: not white, not gray and CERTAINLY not yellow. It doesn't flatter my skin tone, it doesn't match my eyebrows. It objectively probably looks worse than it did before. But that's fine, guys. I didn't do it to be pretty, or to look nice.

But this type of ugly, grandma-esque hair is something lots of people aspire to. It wasn't an original idea; I am not pioneering this "trend." I may not be trying to look more conventionally attractive, but I am doing it to look more a certain way. Would I have done it if literally everyone hated it -- if it was a totally "unacceptable" way to look?

We've all established that the primary reasons that girls do the aesthetic things they do has little or nothing to do with boys. It's about other girls, for the most part. We want other girls to think we're pretty and cool and have good taste in eye shadow. In fact, a boy once told me that the most sexy makeup look on a girl is no makeup at all, because of the "naked" connotations of a bare face. But finding a pure motive for doing the aesthetic things we do seems almost impossible. The waters are too muddied. If you're told to like something often enough, or by someone you like (or find aspirational), at some point you're bound to give in and start liking it.

It's worrying to think of female taste being a process of mind control, either to keep women insecure or to keep them spending. But it's boring to wonder every time you decide to like something whether you really like it, or if it's a product of your systematic hypnotism by patriarchal society. What's the answer? Well, as always, I don't know. But I guess my message is thus: at least be cognizant of the question of why you like or dislike things. And if you think you like something, but it's constantly making you feel bad, remember that you're free to not like it. Nothing is an obligation and everything in your world of "personal aesthetics" should be positive. And if it is, I reckon that's just fine.