Monday, October 15, 2012

The Myth of "I Like You Prettiest Without Makeup"


The other day, one of my friend’s Facebook status proclaimed: “I appreciate a girl as real as her hair.” As a weaveless woman, my reflex was to toot my own horn. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the notion that someone’s “realness” has a correlation to whether her hair was homegrown or not was ridiculous.

My friend’s Facebook status is part of this pseudo-enlightened view that has become cool and hip in the past several years. A few variations of this theory you can expect to hear are:

 “I like girls natural… the less makeup, the better.”
“How can you trust a girl with fake nails, fake hair, fake boobs, etc?”
“Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin’ with no make-up on; that’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong.” Philosopher Aubrey “Drake” Graham

That’s cute. Here’s the thing. I’m not buying it. Before you tell me, “How dare you tell me what men like, ain’t you a woman? Ya’ll always think you know what men want…” and blah blah blah, hear me out.

I’m not saying men are solely attracted to women with Nicki-Minaj inspired makeup, but I’m not buying the argument that men are most attracted to women who haven’t made any type of investments in her appearance. Most women do quite a bit to adjust what you may think is natural.  Eyebrows are plucked, waxed or threaded. Legs and armpits are shaved. Some women even bedazzle their hoo-ha. Our bodies smell faintly of lotion, our faces are washed with Proactiv, and our heels are scrubbed with pumice stones.  I could write a separate blog post about the deep conditioning, co-washing, trimming, coloring, curling then straightening, voluminizing then smoothing, twisting, and teasing we do to our hair to achieve something appropriate for both the workplace and the happy hour afterwards.

Interestingly enough, doing all of these things to enhance our appearance isn’t considered fake. It’s considered by most to be basic hygiene! Never mind that failing to shave your legs doesn’t increase the incidence of type II diabetes. Ashiness doesn’t lead to asthma, but God forbid you have a gray elbow. Massive manipulation of your own hair is perfectly ok, but if a woman adds extensions so that she can protect her hair from heat damage or she extends her nails by a couple centimeters then not only is her look fake, she is a woman who can’t be trusted! She might just possibly be a liar who goes out of her way to present a false persona so that men will fall into her icky trap. The true sign of an evil woman, to hear some men tell it, is an acrylic French manicure.

Let me tell you what I think men are REALLY asking for. Men want a woman who LOOKS like she’s not trying. They want a woman whose cheeks just happen to have a bit of glow, with lips that naturally produce a sweet tasting liquid that makes them shine, and women whose hair on their head grows like a unstoppable weed, while the hair on the rest of their body appears to have endured chemotherapy.

Here’s the thing; I don’t think it’s completely men’s fault. Photoshop, professional airbrushing, and most recently Instagram, have provided men with endless streams of false reality. Men drool over Zoe Saldana, Republican Stacey Dash, Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, and Gabrielle Union not realizing that they’re drooling over a piece of art, not an actual person. 

There’s nothing wrong with having preferences. If you like women without weave, that’s cool. If you prefer women who keep makeup to a bare minimum, that’s cool too. Honestly, all the fake stuff is really expensive; we’d probably appreciate a relief from it all. But don’t pretend that you don’t appreciate any of the 20th and 21st century’s tools to tweak, remove, add, and enhance women’s natural beauty. That would be really fake of you. *Wink*


 P.S. I shared this post with a a guy friend  to ensure I wasn't completely off base, and he said that a better post would be about how society defines beauty and why we think plump lips or youthful skin is attractive. But I'm employed and in school and I don't have time to learn all that, much less teach it. One of you should write it!