Do Women Need To Ditch Makeup Boxes To Be Feminists?

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Time and again, a debate rises among women, on whether or not they need to ditch makeup boxes, to identify as feminists. It is quite common — the conflation of radical ideas against use of makeup with feminist beliefs. Many women believe that by applying makeup, we impose stereotypical norms on ourselves. We limit our beauty to aesthetics, not accepting our natural appearance. Vanity and feminism are thus often touted to be contrasting beliefs and women are asked to ditch their makeup boxes if they are true blue believers of the ideology of feminism. But is that true? Can’t feminism and lipstick go hand in hand? Can’t we rock our mascara and beliefs in gender equality simultaneously?


  • Numerous women argue that you cannot be a feminist if you wear makeup.
  • However, feminism is all about having the right to choose. And if you wear makeup out of choice, then there is nothing wrong with it.
  • Every woman can have her own way of expressing femininity, and we must accept it.

Every woman can have her own way of expressing her femininity, and we must accept it

I understand why so many women feel that aesthetics are binding. That they trap women in an endless loop of conforming to gendered ideas, keeping them from accepting their natural self. But feminism never advocates rejection of choice. Every woman can have her own way of expressing her femininity, and we must accept it. To shave your legs or not, to apply makeup, to colour your hair or to even opt for procedures like botox or liposuction, these are all choices. Feminism advocates this right to choose. To be able to live your life on your terms.

When we conform natural living (sans aesthetics here) with feminism, we are taking away that choice from women. So if they have to be feminists, they have to be radical or give up on certain things in life, against their will. Doesn’t that take a hit at the very foundation of feminism? How is this any different from forcing virtues that advocate inequality or inferior status of women to men in our society? The only difference here is that it is other women, who are curtailing women’s right to choose in the name of activism.

Radicalisation of any ideology only makes people intolerant and puts them on a path of aggression and rejection. But feminism is all about inclusion. It wants to include all women, even men, and all aspects of their identities. So yes! You can keep that makeup kit and proudly call yourselves a feminist. How much time we spent on makeup, or how it keeps us from accepting our natural being are different issues, which cannot be put on the same page as believing in equal rights.

Stop telling women that they are not feminists if they don’t wear makeup or burn their bras or believe in fitness and dieting

What needs to stop though is this pinning of feminism to specific virtues. Stop telling women that they are not feminist if they don’t wear make up or burn their bras or believe in fitness and dieting. It only divides our strength and it contradicts our belief of equality. Besides, wearing makeup is not always a sign of vanity or too much of it. For some, it can a part of their identity. It could be a sign of rebellion against orthodox peers, who deem wearing makeup as sacrilegious. Thus, we need to look at it outside of the context of aesthetics, to understand why makeup, be it even something as simple as applying lipstick, is of so much significance to women. Because when we do, feminism and using makeup will no longer seem to be contrasting virtues.

Also Read: Why Is The Focus On Priyanka Gandhi’s Clothes?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.