Pink Gradient

Makeup in Schools

By Sanna Patel

High school changes you. It changes the way you view your grades, your appearance, your future. It’s a transition to adulthood, a controlled environment that lets you form a personal identity and prepares you for the ‘real world’. Some schools do that through uniforms, some through self-reflection, some through encouraging creativity; basically, each school has different values and rules that they implement with unique policies to guide you on a path for growth. The matter of makeup is comparable to uniforms in the sense that it regulates how a student dresses and is similarly controversial. You may wonder, is makeup really necessary? Or does it just make students more insecure? Is a bold eye look expressive, or just distracting? I’m here to unpack all these questions, so if you’re interested, keep reading!

To start, we can’t discuss if people should wear makeup without understanding why they do. I feel that a common misconception about makeup in high school is that it’s just about covering up; dark circles from getting three hours of sleep? Throw on some concealer. And yes, it’s common and okay to do this (because, let’s be honest, there are like 6 people in high school with a good sleep schedule) but that’s not all there is to makeup. Makeup can be used to accentuate your favorite features and express yourself artistically, whether it’s subtle or bold. The idea that wearing makeup makes you inherently insecure is false and possibly damaging. It’s not that one can’t come to school without mascara or eyeliner, it’s that they are happier and confident when they do. Confidence is unpredictable; sometimes washing off makeup can be equally as empowering as putting it on, and it’s imperative to understand that neither is better than the other.

Now that you understand why students, or just people in general, choose to wear makeup, let’s look at how it can affect our school lives. As I said before, the question of makeup is similar to that of uniforms. On one hand, uniforms create a level playing field, eliminate judgment between students, and foster a sense of community. On the other hand, they stifle self-expression through appearance and trivialize social diversity. Personally, I think uniforms are outdated; the idea that students can only respect each other if they all look the same is only a reactive approach to the disrespect of diversity; rather, we should proactively teach them to accept different styles and preferences through exposure. The same goes for makeup. Women (and other makeup-wearing individuals) are judged for wearing “too much” makeup so often, but when they don’t, suddenly we are ugly and disorderly. Regardless, as we grow, how we present ourselves – despite outside influences – is ultimately our decision. It will be the same for all our peers. So, if schools don’t teach us to respect someone’s skills, whether they wear red lipstick or eyeshadow or nothing at all, are they really setting us up for our futures? Stigma forms as a result of our surroundings, so if we normalize people wearing as much or as little makeup as they like, we will have no reason to let one’s appearance so wholly shape our impression of them.

In high school, we are trying to build foundational skills for our futures, and everything, including how we look, plays a role in our individual identities. Why not start experimenting with our looks now? I know we’ll probably regret it when we look back, but at least we won’t be making the same mistakes so much later in life! Anyway, now that I have spent a good amount of time spewing feminist propaganda at you, I hope I have broken some misconceptions about why we choose to wear makeup, and why, honestly, it’s not that big of a deal to do so.