Beauty Without Fuss

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Time for a heated debate!

In my spare time - you know, the time I get in between working twelvety million hours a week, and the time I spend blogging - I also moderate a debate forum.  I know, I'm a sucker for punishment.

There was a debate recently about women in positions of power, and someone suggested that the only reason women wear makeup is to attract men.  And that women who go out whilst wearing makeup and reject advances made to them by men are "ball-breakers".  Here are his actual words:

Has anyone ever noticed that there are allot of women in  {...} who will spend literally hours on their hair and make-up...wear hundreds of dollars worth of clothing and expensive perfumes...go out to a dance bar and...

SIT in groups of women, chatting and so on, while every so often a guy will make his sorry-ass way over to their table and ask one to dance. Can you guess the answer he gets more often than not? Sure ya can...

"No thanks...hehehe..."

I pointed out that there are many reasons to wear makeup:

... women do not {solely} wear makeup to attract men. There are almost as many reasons to wear makeup as there are people wearing makeup. ... neither is it only women who wear cosmetics.  

To which the response was:

Now: "women do not wear makeup to attract men" To which I have to say, that unless the women in question happens to be a lesbian...then Bull S**t! Please...that's just silly. Women wear make-up in order to enhance their appearance and attract a mate...of either sex. Just as these men you speak of who also wear so for the same reason. I'll admit there may be the odd exception, but please...its the same thing with jewelry, hair-do's, cloths even. I think that's rather self-evident.

(all spelling mistakes theirs)

So, I was wondering what my readers thought?  Is it self-evident that the only reason people wear cosmetics is to make them more attractive to potential partners? Why do you wear makeup?  

Personally, I think the existence of charities such as Look Good Feel Better disproves his entire theory - not to mention the fact that women who have  partners don't immediately stop wearing makeup, which, if his theory is to be believed, is what would happen naturally.  But I want to  know what you think, please let me know in the comments, thanks!


This post originated at: All rights reserved.


  1. Personally, I do think that it is a social process. By no means do I agree with the simplistic 'snag a mate' argumentation, but engagement in self-representatin is part of how we express (or translate) ourselves to our environment.
    I think it IS self expression but the 'self' part is probably more limited than we like to think...and that, coming from a woman who puts on makeup to stay at home for days on end in order to work lol
    Nina x

  2. I think wearing make up is about wanting to look like the best version of yourself - which is something most people aspire to, just as they aspire to and are encouraged to behave like the best version of themselves. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, either. Men strive for the same thing, just in different ways (generally speaking.) I don't think he's right in saying spending time and money on appearance is soley to attract a mate! That's pretty insulting. And going out looking and feeling like the best version of yourself doesn't mean you then become a bitch for rejecting the random men who approach you in bars. The ones who are successful at this probably just don't write about it on debating sites :) I think there are many reasons to wear make up and women shouldn't worry about them too much! x

  3. I had a similar argument with my (male) flatmate last year. I was straightening my hair because I had some time to spare before my class, and he asked me "Is there a hot guy in your class or something?" When I asked him why on earth he's said that, he gave me the same line of argument - women only make themselves look good to attract men! I've been with my boyfriend for 3 years, so that's not really what I'm trying to achieve!

    I agree that there are a lot of women who DO do this, but there are just as many who wear make up purely because they like the way the look with it on. I started wearing it regularly AFTER I met my boyfriend, when I was shy and struggling a bit with my self-confidence after a couple of horrible experiences. I found that it perked me up and made me feel a bit more prepared to take on the day - it felt a bit like a sort of like a security blanket to me. Nothing to do with attracting someone else, everything to do with making myself happy again. x

  4. Absolute and utter rubbish!
    I wear make-up/do my hair/wear nice clothes/perfume etc to feel confident and attractive to MYSELF.
    I have crippling self confidence issues and doing all of the above help me feel that little bit more attractive and confident.

    In fact, I probably wear more make up now I'm married and not looking - so bang goes their theory! x

  5. But of course. It is a universally known fact that we do not have our own personhood and only exist for the benefit of men. While this guy is making a seemingly innocuous comment about make up, this is essentially what he's saying. Nothing is going to disabuse him of his ignorance.

  6. Well he sounds nice. I wear make up because I love it; I love shopping for it and discovering new things, I love the ritual of applying it, I even like taking it off at the end of the day and am perfectly happy (and always have been) to be seen without any slap at all.

    My boyfriend likes it when I make an effort but he's more interested in my clothes than my make up (I'm not sure what that says about him). He will grimace if I've got an enormous, unconcealed spot on my face, but that's fair enough. It doesn't change his opinion of me at all.

    Most men I've met seem to prefer less make up on women. I have no doubt plenty of people wear make up with the express intention looking more attractive and hopefully impressing other people, but there's nothing wrong with that.

    It's just that we all know there's so much more to make up, and women, than that.

  7. cross between covering up blemishes you don't like and enhancing features you do to present a 'better' version of yourself to the world. plus a bit of social pressure to do and fit in. Most girls at the office feel more confident in it as it's a face they choose to wear and a quickish way to show a different image than a new wardrobe.

    For all those who think we're doing it to attract, please take a look at makeup's nickname: Warpaint.

  8. Haha that's funny!

    I wear makeup because I had acne as a teenager so I'm constantly thinking about how ugly I am - It's a psychological thing to give me more confidence. However I also enjoy the process of decorating myself to look nice.

    The funny thing is, every boyfriend I've ever had says that girls look better without makeup, they all hate red lipstick and don't understand why girls wear makeup! Doesn't that show that girls wear makeup for themselves in the long run?

    GREAT post!

    Lauren from Lauren Loves... xxx

  9. I think the guy on your forum missed the point perfectly. Women don't wear make up to look more attractive for men, they do it to look more attractive to other women. I think that women are far harsher judges of other women, in my experience, than men ever are. As a woman who doesn't consider herself attractive I always feel rather threatened being around women I don't know, the majority of whom I would consider to be more attractive than me, at least if I have done my make up and hair I feel that I look as if I am making some effort and not totally letting the side down! Although I have to hold my hand up to having "issues" so maybe this is just me?!

  10. Ha! I have to admit I was actually shocked when I read this. I don't think it has ever even crossed my mind to wear makeup in order to look good for men!

    At least not directly... I'm a firm believer in the power of makeup to enhance or alter a mood, so if I want to feel sexy and confident for a night out or special occasion then I may slap on some false eyelashes or a bold lipstick, but that's just because I want to feel good about mysself and confident. It'd nothing to do with luring in men folk, lol. If makeup makes men think I am fair game well then they're going to be disapointed.

    Don't a lot of guys say that they prefer men with little makeup on anyway?

  11. Honestly, I wouldn't even waste my breath arguing with a jerk who holds such a ridiculous opinion. What you say is exactly right - if women wore makeup to attract men, they would stop wearing it as soon as they were married or in a relationship, and lesbians would never wear it at all.

    Maybe the women he approaches in bars are just out with their friends for a good time, not out to score with a bitter, misogynistic loser.

  12. I believe he is right. "Oh, but no, I wear makeup/perfume/jewelry to make me feel more confident and more beautiful to myself..." ... so I will be successful in attracting men. I also believe it is the same reason why men like to have power and fancy cars and all that - so ultimate they will be more successful in attracting mates.

    I don't think it's that obvious and the reasons are not that direct, but ultimately it is that.
    My opinion. ;)

  13. Well, he gets 10/10 for chauvinism.

    I think you're spot on when you say that there are as many reasons women wear makeup as women who wear it.

    Personally, I wear it for a myriad of reasons:

    To feel more pulled together and polished
    To look less like crap if I've had a late night
    To change up my look in a relatively cheap,easy and impermanent way

    I have, in the past, worn make up out on dates with boyfriends not to attract them but to look nice for them. It's a bit like putting icing on a cupcake. The cupcake is perfectly fine without it, but the icing is a nice little extra.

    In my experience the majority of men only notice you've got makeup on if they're gay, or if you're wearing way too much.

    I'm sure some women do everything in their day to day lives with a view to attracting men and if it works, thats great.

    That being said, those of us with a makeup addiction do it for ourselves. Wanna know how I'm so sure?

    How many times have we sat there of an evening in scruffy pjs, hair scraped back, glass of wine and a full face on because we've wanted to play with our stash?

    THAT isn't for men.


  14. What a... twat.

    I want to brighten my mood for the day, I will wear a nice lippie.

    I want to impress a member of the opposite sex, I will wear a nice lippie.

    I want to impress a member of the same sex, I will wear a nice lippie.

    I want to draw away from the fact I had a rough night out the night before, I will wear a nice lippie.

    I want to change my look, make myself look a bit different maybe, I will wear a nice lippie.

    (please exchange the word 'lippie' for any item of makeup.)

    I can see his point (although made in a completely chauvinistic way!), of course women wear makeup to be attractive, but that does not necessarily mean it is to be attractive for the benefit of the opposite sex (or same sex, whichever way your sexual preferences are!) It can simply be because you like to feel attractive for yourself, make you FEEL good.

    At the end of the day I bet the majority of women feel better with a face of makeup on that with absolutely nothing, but there are a multitude of reasons for that.

  15. Well there women that do and women that don't. I think historically women have worn makeup to attract the opposite sex but so have men like the 17th century when everyone had white powdered faces and wore wigs.

    You could apply the same logic to men anyway like all men who are dressed smart, clean shaven and smell nice are trying to attract the opposite sex.

    I think most women do stuff to please themselves anyway. I have on a bright blue nail polish at the moment and James doesn't like it. Do I care? No. Is he going to break up with me over it? No.

  16. It enrages me that men think this way. I wear make up to feel good and look better, of course, NOT to go hook a man. Idiots. Women are more flattered if another woman genuinely comments on their clothes, make-up, hair. It's a great compliment and you know they're not just saying it to get somewhere else!

  17. He's a hurt and angry little man, but I think there's a lot of truth to his basic point. "Just doing it for myself" is based on marketing copy that changed from "Be pretty, get a husband" during the feminist movement. They had to convince women to continue buying the stuff so they made it about confidence and inner strength instead of man-bait.

    Of course it feels good to look good, but a lot of that is based on how others perceive us and the approval we get --especially from those to whom we're sexually attracted.

    Even when people say women dress for other women part of that is saying that women judge one another based on their ability to attract. It's like being contestants in a sport. We look at each other and approve or disapprove based on the "winability" of the presentation.

    The reason Look Good, Feel Better doesn't disprove his theory is because these women do not want to look sick, odd, or ugly to others or to themselves. (A quote from the site: "Being shown simple make-up skills made me feel able to go out looking as normal as possible.") It matters to them what society thinks of them, and for a lot of people what society thinks of them IS what they think of themselves. Yoga, meditation, love, prayer, etc. would probably have a similar affect (although, I'd argue that it would be more genuine and lasting).

    I wear makeup, and I enjoy it. But I accept what it is.

  18. I wear red lipstick to frighten my male colleagues, not to please them ;)

  19. What the heck do most men know about why women wear make-up anyway?! Its like saying men only like fast cars to impress women when in fact a lot of men like fast cars because they like driving them.

    I agree entirely with welshbeautyblog and Dinky. Its disheartening to think some men like the one in question (and thankfully by no means all) have such egotistical self-inflated opinions of themselves as to think women wearing make-up is all for their personal benefit - jeez.....are we actually living in the 21st century or medieval times?!

    Some days I wear make-up, some days I don't - just depends on how I feel first and foremost.

    Great post and exchange of comment Lippie!

  20. I totally agree with you GlossGalore.

    Make up often is more about creativity and artistic expression than attractiveness (at least for me). If that weren't the case, I'd probably find a few looks that got the "you want to have sex with me, and I might be available" message across to men, and never deviate until I found a man. Unless I were a ball-breaker of course, and then I'd keep sending out signals just to be a bitch apparently.

    Instead, I try out new colors, and sometimes I wear colors that may not be as flattering as others I own simply because its an outlet for my creativity for the day.

    This is especially true for me with nail polish. I love the process of doing my nails and of deciding what color to wear. It's somewhat meditative for me. If the purpose were to attract a man, I probably would change colors less often - I could just wear a color until it chipped, not until I changed my mind. I also probably wouldn't own many of the colors I do and I certainly wouldn't take the time to Konad. I don't think a man has ever say "wow look at that nail stamping! Gotta get me some of that."

  21. He sounds like a charmer ;)

    Yeah, what do men know about why women wear makeup, anyway? Most of the comments here seem spot-on - lots of men don't ever notice things like nail polish, and don't prefer red lipstick. If anything, women dress for other women ;) I've heard that before, too.

  22. I find his comments purile and slightly offensive with its overtly mysogenistic stance. I wear make up for me and me alone. Which when at work is just some lippie to add colour to my face and at home/holiday/weekends I don't bother. I used to be fully made up always, until I had a breakdown 7yrs ago and went 6months with bare skin. After that I just couldn't be bothered and have never recovered the urge except for special occasions once or twice a month.

  23. That person is talking a load of bollocks. I have a girlfriend, and am a girl, and I therefore don't wear make up to attract men.

    I wear make up to camoflague my imperfections (adult acne/uneven skin mostly) and also because it makes me feel more confident. It's like a better version of myself, it makes my skin all one colour and texture and enhances my good bits and hides my bad bits.

    It's also mood dependant. If I am feeling daring, I will wear bright make up, if I am just going to tesco, I will tone it down and go more natural.

    I'm not one of these girls that won't go to the corner shop without make up, but I wouldn't, say, go out in the evening with no make up.

    It's interesting cos my gf doesn't like me wearing make up! (She wears no make up AT ALL)

    Part of it is a force of habit too! I used to work on cosmetics counters, and it was written in our contracts that we HAD to wear make up.

  24. This is a conversation I could have for a LONG time, there is so much to discuss! I don't think women wear makeup to attract a mate, I think women wear makeup because it makes us feel good. The question is, why? Because women are (to a large extent) judged by our appearance rather than our actions, and it makes us feel good to think that others are judging us favorably. Women who wear makeup, do their hair, etc. are judged as more competent, more "put together", so it's not just an issue of trying to attract a man. We wear makeup because we want others to think of us as someone who's powerful and put together, not frazzled and struggling.


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