Something we don’t think is good, is people feeling like their natural faces and bodies are inadequate. But what we also don’t think is good is telling people to stop wearing or caring about make-up, jewellery and nice clothes, it isn’t a very productive way to make change, it’s replacing one set of rules with another. And let’s face it, breaking them is much more fun!
There’s a lot to be said for adornment, it can be fun, creative and expressive. Especially if maybe you try out different ways of adorning yourself, to experiment with colour, shine, pattern whatever. Maybe a Bowie lightning bolt, glitter, interesting hat, or even a fully painted face!
The fantastic Feminist Campaigner and student Yas Necati told us about her experiments with alternative make-up. If you try it, share yours below!
“There are so many reasons why I paint my face, but the biggest is simply because I enjoy it. In a gruelling world of stress, pressure and expectations, there’s something thrilling about just being a bit ridiculous. I can often find empowerment by giving in to the simple things that make me smile without worrying about how other people might react.
When I was a kid, I used to love getting my face painted. I’m sure that many people, like myself, will have warm memories of becoming a dragon, a butterfly or a tiger for the day. I used to particularly love superheroes (I was Spider-Girl on many occasions. It was pretty kick-ass!). Children have this brilliant and uncompromising ability to dream that I never wanted to give up on. I started painting my face again because I believe in belief (and not in the religious sense). Painting my face allowed me to hold on to that faith that I could be anything I wanted to be – even if it was only temporary – all I need is some paints, a sponge and a brush.
Of course, there’s a darker side to this sense of transformation. When I initially started painting my face again, it was a coping mechanism. I was unwell at the time and painting my face helped me through that. I didn’t have to face the world because I could hide behind a façade, cover myself up, indulge in being someone or something else for the day. When I applied the layers of paint it was a way of temporarily covering up my problems. I would put them on pause behind a layer of colour. I didn’t have to face reality. I didn’t have to face the truth.
In those days, I used to take the layers off and stare at my reflection and feel so disappointed. I wasn’t a genie or a dolphin or a superhero – I was only me. And because I was “only me,” all my fears and nightmares rushed back too. I would feel sad about myself and loathe the life I had to lead.
Over the years, I found a way to find the balance. I stopped the paint from covering me up, but allowed it to release me instead. I have always been a pretty eccentric person, so I used the colours to show that. They became reflections of my thoughts, my feeling, my self.
There’s something very liberating about painting your face. There’s a sense of freedom and rebellion due to the breakdown of social norms. There’s a sense of control over your own exterior, your own body. It feels like magic and adventure and escapism all in one. Most importantly, it’s just really, really fun.
Now, I use face-paint like clothing. It decorates my personality. It allows me to express myself in unusual and exciting ways and celebrate myself for who I truly am. It’s enjoyable, and I really do believe enjoyment is the best way of feeling free!”