The Atlantic

Why Do So Many Women Wear So Much Makeup?

Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe she’s succumbing to the stifling patriarchy.
Source: Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters

What is the real reason for “putting your face on?” For beauty? For confidence? To help deal with the fact that we need to make an 8:00 meeting after a Wednesday evening spent swimming in chardonnay?

Women tend to have darker eyes and redder lips than men do, and we wear makeup partly to exaggerate those sex differences. There’s also a corrective aspect: Blush makes us look healthier; foundation makes our faces appear more symmetrical.

The recent campaign would have us believe that we’re entering a paradigm in which both men and women celebrate the unadorned visage. Or, more likely, that we’re still living in a paradigm where hot people look hot in photos, regardless of whether they used concealer that day.

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