A Letter to Men on Women and Makeup

I’ve just gotten back from a missions trip and usually I’d be brimming over with stories to share but this time I want to let myself cool down and process first. While the trip reflections cook, tonight’s post is about women and makeup, through the lens of my own firsthand account as a makeup user. Tonight’s post also is written with men in mind, as an open letter:

Dear beloved brothers,

There’s a faulty mindset about makeup that I want to speak up about. I’ll try to keep the thought flow organised somewhat.

1 The Problem

In my life I’ve accumulated enough experiences to observe that generally, men are attracted to beauty. There’s nothing wrong with that. Both men and women are. Plus, I’ve also met many good men in my life who have proven that beauty is not all they are attracted to.

However, sometimes there’s a disconnect in the messaging some men send about beauty. For example, the same men who do double takes of heavily made-up women with their gaze speak unkind words to women in their own life with their mouths, saying things like, “I don’t understand why you spend so much time or money on your makeup.” Or, they tease their other male friends with phrases like, “If you think she’s pretty now, wait till you see her without her makeup.” Some men brush off the activity (of applying makeup) itself  as something frivolous, childish and unimportant. Some men straight up judge women as being vain for applying makeup and say things like, “I prefer women who don’t use makeup. They are natural beauties.”

Brothers, if this is you, you need to stop shaming on women who use makeup. It’s unkind, and it’s unhelpful. Bear with me in this post and you’ll see why.

2 What Makeup Does For/To Women

Let me first start by saying that I’m a makeup user myself. I think I’m an average user. As I typed “average” I realised just how difficult it is to place that definitively as there is a whole range of degrees to which women use makeup.

I feel differently about makeup now than I did many years ago. As a teenager, I used to think makeup was for the vain. Now, I’ve gained an appreciation for it. I see how makeup, when done right, really draws out the God-given beautiful features of each woman’s face. How each woman does this is unique because her face is unique. Makeup is a way of caring for myself by paying attention to my appearance. Even if I won’t meet anyone I’m trying to impress that day, I am pleased with the way I look and it’s like giving myself a pat on my back. Makeup is now part of my everyday routine. I will minimally have my face moisturised with sunscreen on and my eyebrows drawn everyday.

But makeup can be dangerous. Recently, I realised habit had turned into addiction. One week I ran out of my eyebrow pencil supply. I carried a sinking feeling to work that day as I thought about how people would see an un-pretty me. Later that day, someone commented that I looked tired, and that made me feel worse. That someone was a man. Us ladies all know that there’s a no-go list of things to say to another woman, and “you look tired” is just… you’re being suicidal there. Take a tip from a sister here and save yourself some future trouble, hee.

I got myself an eyebrow pencil as soon as I could that day and as I was preparing to use it, a thought popped in: “Hey, let’s just go without. You’ve lived many years without makeup before and you were fine and you can do the same now too. Don’t let yourself get addicted to this stuff.” For that whole week, I intentionally went to work bare-faced. Truth was, after a while I concluded that nobody really noticed much anyway. It was liberating. Since then, from time-to-time, if I find myself in situations where I have no time to use any makeup product at all before heading out of the house, I’d choose to let it be. I do this on purpose so that I don’t develop a dependency on makeup.

Makeup really has an addictive power. Some women start with just a little, and they keep adding on and on until they cake their faces with so much makeup and they’re still not satisfied. Personally, I have to break my routine to conduct heart checks and see if I still feel the same worth and confidence in my own bare skin as I would with makeup on. I need to be guided by what the Bible says about my worth and not by the praise of others.

3 What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Beauty

So what does the Bible say? There are two key passages in the Bible about a woman’s beauty that I love and cherish:

1 Peter 3:3-4
3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.
4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

and

Proverbs 31:30
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Note that the Bible does not devalue beauty nor does it say that it is a bad thing. Rather, we learn from Scripture that there are things of greater worth that we should focus on. We learn that fearing God, gentleness and a quiet spirit are unfading, while beauty is fleeting.
As a sidenote here to all my ladies, know that whatever beauty we have in our bodily form does not last. We are not our bodies, we are spiritual beings with bodies. And so we should focus on building deep our relationship with Jesus, letting our character be tested and proven by our journey with Him. We should trust that the world will see the value that God has placed in us because as His daughters, and that the world’s gaze is less important than God’s delight.
4 What Can Brothers Do?

To my brothers, know too that beauty is fleeting. Be drawn to a woman’s character and worth from the inside out. Be drawn to her hopes and dreams, her gentle spirit and her tenderness of heart. Be drawn to the way she loves others and gives generously.
Brothers, you have a part to play in stopping the vicious cycle that so many of women and increasingly our young girls get sucked in. The beauty industry has been preying on our young girls with confusing messages since long ago. One moment they’re saying “the more makeup, the better” and so cosmetics are marketed products they need and then the next moment they’re saying “no makeup is beautiful” and that sells tons of skincare products so girls work on trying to get flawless complexions (which, by the way, is really rare).
Brothers, won’t you go against this subtle, hidden violence on our girls and instead draw out their inner beauty with kind words and encouraging gestures? When you see a lady in your life and she’s all dolled up, go ahead and tell her she looks beautiful. But go ahead also to tell her she looks beautiful when she’s just woken up by your side in the morning. Tell your wife she looks beautiful when her hair’s all pulled back and she’s washing dishes in the sink, getting water and soap all over her clothes. Tell your daughter that she looks beautiful in her pajamas practicing her dance moves for her school performance. Tell your sister that she looks beautiful when she’s headed out of her house to run a quick errand in her home clothes.

When you’re talking with your male friends, speak about women with honour and respect. Don’t jest about over their appearances and please, for goodness’ sake, throw away that rating system of calling different women a “10” or a “6” depending on how pretty they are. Comparison will be the chief thief of our joy, both for the men and the women.

Finally, to all the men in my life who have built me up in worth, treated me with respect, spoke words that reminded me of my value as a daughter of the King, thank you for drawing out beauty in me with your love and kindness.
Love lots and lots,
Samantha
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