Makeup: More than just a vanity product

Images provided by Irish Shih, Marwah Tawin and Caitlin Starmer

Romans believed covering the body in makeup was a form of selfishness. They thought make-up’s sole purpose was to enhance one’s appearance rather than to transform one’s whole body. This idea influenced other cultures as well. Queen Victoria claimed that makeup was vulgar; due to her influential opinion, makeup went out of style in the 19th century. But, the art and charm of makeup never fizzled out. Makeup has gone through many iterations along with changing beauty standards — just look at your parent’s yearbook for proof. At Washington High School, the everyday student’s look generally focuses on a more natural look rather than a complete transformation.

Iris Shih’s natural makeup

Three seniors shared their looks. Iris Shih, the President of Model United Nations which is a political debate club and has also been working as a barista since her freshman year describes her style as a mix between Western and Asian, which consists of blush, highlighter, false eyelashes, rounding the cupid’s bow, coloring in the water line with white eyeliner, mascara, and a gradient cat eyeshadow look. On the other hand, Marwah Tarin likes to do a full glam makeover with a little extra dazzle. She says, “My favorite thing to use is rhinestones because I believe it gives a final touch and pulls the whole look together,” though she prefers a more natural look on a daily basis. Caitlin Starmer loves to find new things to cook and bake because she is a vegan, she also enjoys taking care of her physical health, and plays the oboe and clarinet. She usually does not do much and relies on a natural and simple look mostly focusing on her skin because through the process of healing her acne, she has learned that even fixing up her skin with foundation will make wearing make-up too obvious and not give the natural effect. So, she usually likes to make other parts of her face stand out by adding concealer under her eyes and blush on her cheeks.

Image of one of Marwah Tarin’s glam makeup looks

Social media influences what we think of as beautiful and also makes things like learning how to do makeup accessible. Iris learned her style of makeup from creators on TikTok. Caitlin learned a lot of the techniques she uses for makeup through Youtube tutorials made by Rudi Berry and Jessica Braun. Marwah was inspired by her mom putting on makeup to get ready for the day; the TV show Euphoria; and celebrities like Alexa Demie, Kali Uchis, and Kylie Jenner.  She learned how to do looks by watching Youtube videos and recreating tutorials in her spare time.

Caitlin Starmer and one of her practiced looks

To the untrained eye, makeup can seem like superficial vanity. However, it can be so much more: a tool to instill confidence, for instance. Of course, wearing makeup is a personal choice, but for those that choose to partake, it can be a new outlet for self-expression just like fashion or an Instagram feed. Iris said, “I am way more comfortable wearing makeup because I really care about what other people think of me and I generally just think I look better with lashes and eyeliner.” Marwah agreed, saying, “I am comfortable wearing makeup, but I also feel like it is good to let your skin breathe once in a while.” Caitlin added that, “Makeup makes me feel confident, but I still feel comfortable without makeup.”

Makeup has a great influence on the culture at Washington High School. It facilitates unity by providing common ground to talk about a shared interest, confidence from enhancement of certain physical features, and a way for students to express themselves through art.

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