Every day, makeup is used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. A common argument against its everyday use is that makeup can be used to hide what one actually looks like, or as a façade for self-esteem. However, with the advances in technology and social media, recent perceptions of makeup and the cosmetic industry have changed. In the current environment, cosmetics should not be considered as a simple part of everyday life, but as an art form that can be used in more ways than one.
In order to consider makeup an art form, it is important to first understand the fluid position that it holds in society. For the layperson, makeup can be used as part of a daily routine. However, instead of the typical convention that makeup is used to correct flaws, an alternative perspective views the face as a canvas for a work of art. For one person, this could mean simply using makeup to accentuate one’s natural beauty. For another, makeup can be used to experiment, express one’s self and try new things. Each day, the canvas is blank yet again and a new makeup look can be created.
In the fashion industry makeup is used to complete a look. The designer has the ability to decide which parts of the outfit they wish to emphasize on the face. This could mean extravagant glitter on the eyes or it could mean absolutely clear skin. The options are limitless: whatever makeup does go on the face is determined by the designer for a specific look. On social media, makeup artists, beauty gurus, celebrities and everyday people come together to share their creations. This way, people can share products and techniques so that anyone has the ability to recreate a look or even create a completely new one. Various kinds of people use the work of others as inspiration for the next day’s makeup look.
The world of drag uses makeup in a completely different way. Many drag queens use makeup to completely alter the face. This is the beauty of the face as a canvas. One can completely change how shadows look on the face, which parts are highlighted and even the shape of the eye, all with makeup. Drag makeup tends to create completely extravagant looks that match an outfit or idea that the wearer has. The face is an essential part of this process. Altering the shape and accentuating certain features of the face are an artistic way for the wearer to express themselves.
By viewing makeup as a fluid force in our society, we can begin to surpass the stigma that some subscribe to cosmetics. Every face is different. Every person’s features are laid out in a different way, and makeup allows us to see that. Problems arise when people attempt to pin down the purpose behind doing makeup. There is not one single purpose. Makeup is an artistic expression and, therefore, the purpose is ever changing. By considering makeup a fluid art form, we can accept our humanity and embrace diversity.