Just like in Greek mythology how sirens used their beautiful voices to lure sailors to rocky coasts, the women of today stereotypically use makeup to enhance their beauty and impress men. Stereotypes are “negative beliefs about a group.” The problem with gender stereotyping is that it can lead to exaggerated differences between men and women, seeing “male” as normative, biased interpretations of behaviors, and information memory. Information memory is defined as “tending to remember information better when it is consistent with our gender stereotypes.”
In order to avoid stereotype threat or “being at risk of personally confirming a negative stereotype about one’s group,” I decided to break the stereotype of how women need to wear makeup to feel beautiful, by not wearing makeup. At first, not wearing makeup made me feel self-conscious and vulnerable. I was unable to feel comfortable in my skin without a layer of foundation covering it. Throughout the day though, my confidence began to grow and I began to realize that I could feel and look beautiful, with or without makeup.
The hardest part about not wearing makeup was how others perceived me. Friends asked if I was sick, strangers stared, and teachers assumed I was sleep deprived. One of my friends even offered to do my makeup for me. When I told her that I was not wearing makeup on purpose, she asked “why?” with a furrowed brow. I am not sure why, but something about her asking this question made me feel even more self-conscious about my appearance than I ever did around strangers and teachers. I guess that is because in my friend group I feel like the “ugly friend,” and wearing makeup is the closest I come to feeling almost as beautiful as my friends.
Gender roles play a big part in development. Before a person is even born, their gender determines name, clothing colors, how parents speak to their children, and how the infant is perceived by others. Typically, gender identity—identifying with either being Male or Female—is consistent with a child’s biological sex. But a person can still identify as having traits of the “other” gender. In fact, there are times when a person is uncomfortable identifying with their biological sex, and prefers to identify with the other sex. This is what we like to call “Gender Dysphoria”—or previously called “Gender Identity Disorder.”
In my case, I am quite comfortable with identifying as a female and found it quite easy to defy my gender norm. Just because it was easy to do, though, does not mean that I felt comfortable doing it all the time. I feel like this is most likely because of the fact that society has conditioned me to be “feminine” since I was born. From my name, to my clothing choices, to even my hobbies, almost everything about me is what society considers to be female. That does not mean, though, that I only wear makeup because I feel pressured by society to wear it. I wear makeup because I like the way I look in it and I like the confidence I get from wearing it.