Words From A Stranger To This Dad’s Daughter (From The Makeup Aisle)

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183215294Dear ‘Little One’,

Recently your father wrote you an article in the Huffington Post all about how he finds makeup aisles “very oppressive” and how he wants you to be delivered ” through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of your own worthiness and beauty.”

Calling a pile of lipsticks and nail polish a gauntlet of institutionalized shame is a bit overdramatic, and Little One, I’m here to tell you that your dad is wrong.

Now, now, I know it’s sort of going after low hanging fruit to criticize a dude writing about makeup on the Internet. I’m sure your dad means well and I think it is super lovely he is basically telling you not to base your worth on what the advertisements on the foundation packages and the headlines of Como mag tell you. As the mom of my own daughter, I’m teaching my girl the same and I do think it’s important that we raise our daughters not to base their self-worth on what the media tells them in regard to how they should look.

But there are a few points I take issue with.

Makeup isn’t the problem. Little One, I consider myself a feminist. A loud, abrasive, unabashed feminist who speaks out about the hyper-sexualization of girls and women, who cares about issues that affect women and girls, who does everything in my power to speak up and out again female oppression.

I also own roughly 300 lipsticks.

And I know so many people, who are also advocates, who also call themselves feminists who are the same. You can wear all the nail polish, and glitter eyeshadow and fake eyelashes and concealer and be the same.

Strong women wear makeup. Women who have zero interest in women’s issues wear makeup. It’s just makeup. It comes off with water. And you should be allowed to wear it or not wear it or wear it some days and other days not put a smear of it on. It is your body, and your face, and as much as I’m sure your dad loves you and cares for you please don’t let any man, regardless of who he is, even if it is your father, tell you otherwise.

Your dad also warns you against being “naked” and even though this term is being used to describe makeup foundation, he instead suggests you :

The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your gloves off. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.


Which again, nice sentiment, but there is nothing wrong with being “naked” – whether that be in regard to being actually no-clothes-on-naked to wearing makeup that gives you a bare-faced look. I’m a strong woman. I’m also naked sometimes. No father wants to think of their daughter being naked, but as long as you are happy and healthy and consensual there ain’t nothing wrong with being naked. And go ahead and pull no punches and embrace risk but also take your clothes off when you and only you feel it is right for you.

Your dad says he:

I wrote this first for her and the day I’ll eventually read it to her. But I also wrote it for every woman who needs to hear the words of a father. Women, no one else can define your beauty for you. But they’ll try.

And cool story ‘bro. Great. But here’s the thing Little One, you all probably end up like a lot of women are. You’ll see the magazine headlines that tell you how to Look Younger! Be More Beautiful! Learn The Secrets To Perfect Eyeshadow! and you’ll see the displays of foundations and powders and shimmery lipsticks and sparkly nail polishes and you’ll get it. You’re not dumb Little One. You’ll know that advertisements lie, and that cover girls are airbrushed, and that nothing sold in a bottle can make you a better, stronger, more worthwhile woman.

And that it’s just sometimes fun to play with. And not play with. And explore and discover and ignore and start all over again. What you put on or not put on your face has nothing to do with the person you are inside. Wearing makeup doesn’t mean you are less than. Not wearing makeup doesn’t mean you are more than. No amount of wearing makeup or not wearing makeup changes the sort of human you are in your heart.

You can remind your dad of this.

(Image: getty images)


  1. Kashmir1988

    February 7, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I LOVE this!

  2. chickadee

    February 7, 2014 at 8:46 am

    What bugs me about this is the paternalistic tone….which, in an actual letter from a father to a child is fine. But this is an ‘open letter’ that was written not to instruct or guide one girl, but to be shared with a whole world of females and ends up sounding condescending and self-congratulatory. I may be over analyzing it, but this dude comes off sounding like the women of the world couldn’t figure this message out without a dude giving them permission to ignore the made-media manipulation. Thanks, Dad!

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Exactly, it’s amazingly patronizing, but don’t ask me, I’m wearing mascara and my IQ may have dropped 50 points because of this

    • Kay_Sue

      February 7, 2014 at 9:38 am

      I’m not wearing mascara because I some how lost mine. Does that make me smarter?

      For clarification, I’m wearing eyeshadow and a bit of lipstick, and I feel pretty…does that balance out the no mascara?

      And also, is there some kind of net score I should be focusing on? I just have SO MANY QUESTIONS now…

    • meteor_echo

      February 7, 2014 at 9:41 am

      I have permanent makeup on my face (got my eyebrows tattooed on). My IQ is probably lower than the temperature in my room.

    • Tea

      February 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

      50 points for mascara? That puts my husband in “sea cucumber” range on drag night. Possibly negative numbers.

      All of our makeup, aside from the concealer and the black eyeliner, is his. I swear, he owns the whole Kat Von D collection. And purple mascara.

    • pixie

      February 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      I used to have hot pink mascara, blue mascara, and teal mascara, but never purple (have never been able to find it). Your husband is fantastic for that little fact alone.

    • Tea

      February 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      He found it at Sephora, and it’s his favorite. We’re really bad at not being stereotypically gay.

    • pixie

      February 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Ooh! There’s a Sephora at the mall like a 5 minute walk away from where I live. I must go there tomorrow. And you keep on rocking being stereotypically gay, there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s who you are as a person. 😉

    • ChickenKira

      February 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Early 00’s glitter mascara was my favourite at one stage.
      Such a stupid idea. Who on earth thought that glitter and eyes was a good combination?

    • pixie

      February 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Maybe the inventors were very, very drunk? Glitter is a fantastic idea when you’re drink, right? At least for me it is…
      Yeah, if I’d known about glitter mascara, it would have definitely been my favourite as well (I was all over the glitter liquid eyeliner that was pretty much just sticky sparkles).

    • Nicole

      February 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      If you and your husband don’t have matching skin tone and are unable to share the amazing Kat Von D foundations and concealer, I’ll be shedding some serious tears.

    • Tea

      February 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      They’re all his, my makeup is for hiding wicked acne scars and the the occasional goth night (where I steal his amazing purple eye shadow.). And he’s native Croatian and I have albinism, so our skin tones are way off.

    • Nicole

      February 8, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Nooooooo! I’m devo.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      February 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

      YES. When he pivots to address the women of the world I wanted to vomit.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 9:16 am

      what the hell Julia when DAD talks you best listen

    • Aimee Ogden

      February 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Yessss. It’s like all the things I read/hear that say, “Well, I’m a guy and I think not wearing makeup is more attractive” … okay, congratu-freaking-lations and here is your medal in the No One Gives a Shit Olympics! Sorry that you think your male opinion is in any way relevant to my lived experience as a woman. I almost never wear makeup at all but reading stuff like this makes me want to smear it on an inch thick, Elizabeth I-style.

    • Williwaw

      February 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

      Ooh, I want one of those giant white collars, too!

    • Guest

      February 7, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Everytime I hear that comment from a guy, I feel inclined to just mention that they actually like “natural looking makeup” and that I don’t believe for a second they just love ladies rolling out of bed bare faced.

    • ElleJai

      February 7, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      I have male friends who genuinely prefer the actual no make up face, but they’re also aware that while they get a preference, their opinions do not count towards what someone else does with their face.

    • Emme

      February 9, 2014 at 9:16 am

      Wasn’t there a meme with some guy staring plaintively out from outer space telling us we don’t need make-up because we’re all f-ing beautiful? I always hated that! Go away outer space boy!

    • jendra_berri

      February 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Yeah, I feel that way too. I don’t like when men, who know nothing first-hand of the female experience and never will, essentially tell girls how to be girls, or women how to be women.
      No girl needs to be shamed out of femininity. Instead, she needs to know it’s hers to wield if she wants, how she wants, when she wants, that it can define her on her own terms if she so chooses. It can be fun, exciting, a confidence-booster, a way to play with identity, and it’s always evolving.
      But why bother with a complex message to address a complex issue when you can tell her to just say no to something you don’t understand?

    • Elle

      February 8, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      IKR? It’s like… “Um, congratulations on being a decent person?” Every time a guy tells me “I like girls better without makeup!”. I’m like “Well tough luck because I like wearing lipstick and I don’t give a flying fishstick if you don’t like it”

    • Vicki K

      February 10, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      I think you’re over-analyzing it for sure.

  3. Elizabeth Licata

    February 7, 2014 at 8:48 am

    “Gauntlet of Institutionalized Shame” is now my favorite thing. I’m definitely going to drop that in a treasure roll for my D&D players.

    • Heather C

      February 7, 2014 at 9:13 am

      I am SO GLAD I am not the only one that thought that it would make an excellent magic item.

    • Nicole

      February 7, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      I so want to print that out on beautiful paper and use it to label my makeup draw.

  4. guest

    February 7, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I don’t think he knows what naked or nude makeup is.. it’s subtly perfecting yourself, building on your own beauty.

  5. Véronique Houde

    February 7, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Great article! Perhaps a little off-topic, but EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I wear makeup to work (where I usually aim for a nude look – so people can’t tell I am wearing makeup), I always get comments on how “great” I’m looking, and it’s for sure all about the “pregnant glow.” No, it’s just a well-applied makeup job ;). Obviously though, the people don’t believe me. To which I respond that it’s interesting ’cause they only tell me I’m “glowing” when I apply my NARS highlighter to my cheekbones.

    You can pull my NARS highlighter out of my cold dead hands.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 8:56 am

      I’m sorry your Nars illuminator just makes you a cog in the gauntlet of industrialized shame

    • Véronique Houde

      February 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

      LOL I totally feel oppressed.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

      The thing that scares me the most is his article got shared a gazillion times on FB. so great job spreading the patronization dude.

    • Véronique Houde

      February 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

      I love how a father needs to tell his girl how to be a feminist. Now men are telling us how we should free ourselves from their oppression!! 😉

    • Jessica

      February 7, 2014 at 9:52 am

      It reminds me of the line, “What if she were your mother? Sister? Daughter?” Because she couldn’t have inherent value just being human, could she? She only has worth in relation to a man.

    • DatNanny

      February 7, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Make that into a greeting card

    • Elizabeth Licata

      February 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      My husband totally diagnosed me as pregnant a few months ago. He was like, “I think you’re pregnant. Your face is different. It’s kind of … glowy.” I was like, “I’m wearing makeup.” He was embarrassed. (Also I was totes not pregnant.)

  6. Kat

    February 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve questioned myself a lot lately, as a feminist and as a woman. One of my issues is just this. If I love makeup, am I still a feminist? Does that disqualify me? I know it’s a dumb question deep down, but sometimes I can’t help but ask. When I apply my red lipstick, I think, “media whore.” It’s gotten worse since my daughter was born. What will I tell her later on? Should I let her wear makeup? Does it teach her to hide herself or to embrace herself?

    You’re right though. It’s just makeup. If a man likes cars or other “man things,” does it make him a womanizer? It’s not what we do, it’s who we are and what we believe. I think I know what to tell my daughter now.

    End sap.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

      I think as long as you are teaching her that her looks don’t define her self worth she will be fine. makeup is just makeup. Many feminists wears it.

    • thisshortenough

      February 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Feminism is about women having equal rights to men and having the freedom to make their own choices

    • thefluter

      February 7, 2014 at 11:52 am

      I think the key is to remember that society as a whole discounts traditionally “female” things — makeup, knitting, baking, shopping. Telling women they are Less Than for liking those things is akin to saying those things, and therefore women, are less worthy than “male” things. So you do you, wear makeup if it’s fun and you enjoy it and brings you confidence. You’re just as much a feminist as you were before you applied the lipstick.

  7. ZbornakSyndrome

    February 7, 2014 at 9:42 am

    My mom taught me that makeup was for fun and because she only wore it when she was going out on the town or playing with me, I never felt naked without it. If only my father had taken an interest in saving me from the evils of Cover Girl, I wouldn’t feel the need to collect lip glosses!
    Also “I’m HEAR to tell you”? Eve, I love you, but I’m not sure that’s what you meant to write.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 9:44 am


    • ZbornakSyndrome

      February 7, 2014 at 9:50 am

      It’s clumping your lashes AND your brain! Fight the oppression!

  8. Kay_Sue

    February 7, 2014 at 9:43 am


    He really thinks that this is new? Seriously? This is supposed to be mind-blowing, enlightening, progressive?

    My dad cornered the market on this line of thought at least 20 years ago.

    • Robotic Arms Dealer

      February 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

      he should have ™’ed it

  9. Ddaisy

    February 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

    This is absolutely beautiful. I wish someone had told me this when I was a little girl and felt so ashamed because I secretly wanted to wear makeup. I was 19 before I realized that what I put on my face has nothing to do with how intelligent, kind, creative, adventurous, thoughtful, curious, or loving I am. Now I happily wear oodles of black eyeliner and red lipstick, while simultaneously holding a BASc, travelling the world, and maintaining wonderful friendships.

    Pleeeease Eve, can I adopt you as my substitute mom?!

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

      yesh, yeah you can. Ugh, it washes off it is just makeup who cares so many women wear makeup, so many fierce amazingly smart women, plus you prove that!

  10. Jessica

    February 7, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Great, I already have failed relationships with my bio-dad & step-dad, now I’m disappointing yet another internet-dad with my affordably gorgeous drugstore mascara. If he finds out I own naked palettes 1, 2, & 3 we’re screwed :/

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 9:50 am

      OH man, me too, I am all about #3 lately

    • Jessica

      February 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

      My mom just gave it to me for Christmas. I love it, but now I’m starting to wonder if she’s just trying to oppress me by burying my soul in my favorite make up 🙁

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Probably. Ask your father.

    • Jessica

      February 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Brb, checking in with internet dad…

    • Jessica

      February 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

      IHTM: I Can’t Stop Oppressing Myself

  11. Melody

    February 7, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Ugh, Mansplaining: Women, no one else can define your beauty for you. But they’ll try.

    • JLH1986

      February 7, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Which is what I’m doing by telling you beauty shouldn’t include makeup.

    • thefluter

      February 7, 2014 at 11:49 am


    • thefluter

      February 7, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      True fact: Sometimes I just read Mommyish comments for the amazing gifs I know will be there.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      that’s the best.

    • Bic

      February 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

      This is so true. Don’t let people tell you what to do, how to think and what to feel, nobody has the right to do that. Apart form me.

  12. allisonjayne

    February 7, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Word. I wear make-up almost every day. My wife almost never wears make-up, unless we’re getting photos done or she’s playing a show. Our daughter watches me do my make-up and has asked why, and I always say “For fun!” and we talk about how some people wear make-up, some people don’t, some people wear it sometimes, and it’s all ok.
    I definitely went through phases where I wore what I’d now consider an excessive amount of make-up out of insecurity….but I was 14, I was a late bloomer, I was shy, I had braces and freckles and was short and clumsy and of course I was insecure. The make-up didn’t make me insecure, and eventually I got some confidence and I grew out of it.
    I remember spending hours as a teenager mixing my nail polishes to make new colours and trying different things…it was fun. Were there more productive things I could have done with my time? Sure. Were there worse things I could have done with my time? Absolutely.

    • thefluter

      February 7, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Oh my gosh, you were a late bloomer at 14?? I didn’t bloom till I was like 20. 🙂

    • allisonjayne

      February 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Well I didn’t ‘bloom’ until like 17 or 18 so at 14 I still looked like a 10 year old boy.

    • Aldonza

      February 7, 2014 at 11:59 am

      I work with a lot of middle school and high schoolers and see some pretty…creative…make-up (I have one 12 year old who has discovered heavy blue eyeshadow) but they’re figuring it out and figuring themselves out and expressing themselves in one of the ways they are able to and that I think is awesome.

    • Justme

      February 8, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Not even gonna lie – sometimes my middle schoolers hair, make-up and clothes look so fabulous….I ask them for tips.

  13. Lindsey Conklin

    February 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I love this, Eve. I am a feminist. I wear makeup. I own lipstick. And I make no apologies nor do I feel oppressed for loving/wearing makeup.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Lindsey, I am sorry your dad didn’t love you enough to tell you that something something gauntlet of oppression something makeup bad

    • Kay_Sue

      February 7, 2014 at 9:59 am

      If anything, I think men should feel oppressed because they don’t have this same freedom.

      Where are the MRAs to fight this injustice?!

  14. Princess

    February 7, 2014 at 10:01 am

    So my painted nails are actually a symbol of my oppression? I thought it looked cool and kept me from chewing my nails apart.

    • Magrat

      February 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Nope. Oppression. The sure sign of a liberated woman is bleeding nail beds.

  15. JLH1986

    February 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Not gonna lie, I will cut a bitch over some eye liner and mascara. I’ll go without concealer, eye shadow and lipstick (well maybe not I love lipstick) but I love love love my mascara (all 30000 of them) and my eyeliner (I only have 10000 of those). I also participate in Slut Walks and write culture papers on how women have a culture not just white women etc.

  16. Jessica

    February 7, 2014 at 10:04 am

    But wait, he was literally sitting on the floor of a Target in the make up aisle texting with his friend sitting an aisle over? Just sitting there letting the revelations wash over them? What would have happened had a girl walked over to pick up some lip gloss while those thoughts were still fresh & unorganized? I’m just imagining shouts of oppression & shame gauntlets being thrown around…

    • Bic

      February 7, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Sounds like it, just sitting there in somebody’s way probably.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 10:14 am

      that’s a whole other article: IHTM: I was just trying to buy some damn lipgloss and two dudes were in the way at the makeup aisle

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 10:09 am

      haha, and then they art directed the lady mag pile

  17. Angela

    February 7, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I don’t love the Dad’s letter either and while I don’t wear makeup every day I do enjoy it from time to time. But I also understand why some feminists feel that make up is an important issue. It’s hard to argue that women really have a choice to wear make-up when the society punishes those who opt out. Women are more likely to be selected for a job if they wear makeup to their interview. In many jobs makeup will help women be more successful. In some jobs lack of makeup would get women fired, and not just in the modeling or fashion industry. It’s just one more way that women have to work harder just to be able to compete with men.

    And of course this is only one of many ways that society pressures women to use cosmetics. Sure there are women who decide to buck the norm and forgo makeup but it does limit certain opportunities for them, especially if they are overweight, have acne, etc. Obviously men are also penalized for being overweight and unattractive as well, but not nearly to the extent that women are. And unfortunately the more of us that go along with societal beauty requirements the harder it becomes for women who wish to opt out. Honestly I have no idea what the solution is but I definitely feel makeup is a relevant feminist topic.

    • JustAGuest

      February 7, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Yes, thank you! I know women who cannot go to the gym or the grocery or the doctor without wearing makeup because they feel like they have to wear it all the time. It isn’t a choice for them – it’s compulsory. yes, in some sense they’re doing it to themselves, but they got that message from society around them. If we’re going to criticize the messages that our kids get from toys, commercials, etc. (which this site often does), we can’t ignore societal messages about beauty and makeup just because we like to play with it. Can it be a fun thing? Sure. Are there disturbing social messages about it? You betcha.

      (The letter is still rather heavy-handed, so I think one can object to the letter while conceding there is something to be concerned about.)

      For the record, I think you can be a feminist and wear makeup. But it’s worth taking some time to think about why we wear it and what messages society is sending with it. Our identities don’t form in a vacuum.

    • Angela

      February 7, 2014 at 11:42 am


    • pixie

      February 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      I never understood the females I know who insist they can’t go to the gym or anywhere without makeup. I normally put on make-up when I go to class (keyword: normally) on Fridays because it’s in the morning and I might decide to go out later that evening and don’t have to deal with putting make-up on later or I might decide to have a little fun and play with my make-up later on in the evening (I get bored). But the couple time’s I’ve gone to the gym wearing make-up I always look like a sweaty hot mess racoon from my eyeliner. I know females who can’t go swimming without makeup and I know there’s waterproof mascara and liquid eyeliner and all that, but it’s never worked 100% for me (I was 13 and trying to impress someone).

    • kdk

      February 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

      yes. i’ve been thinking through this myself for a while and while i get that you can of course be feminist and wear makeup, i also feel that a lot of makeup techniques and styles reinforce messages of what is “attractive”. e.g eyeliner = bigger eyes! (or sultry bedroom eyes) blush = healthy and fertile! pink/red lips = ditto. this is not only a white perspective of what is beautiful, it also narrows the field of what can be considered beautiful.

      i know a lot of women will say – thats not why they wear makeup, they wear it for themselves, not for any man, because they want to look pretty, or its fun. but the fact of the matter is, when one half of the population feels that makeup is a necessary/available tool for this, but the other half of the population generally don’t feel the need to use makeup at all, it’s something that needs discussing.

      what influences the makeup choices we make? why do we feel that darkening our eyes makes us prettier, or reddening our cheeks and lips? what beauty ideal is influencing us? in what ways can we interrogate this beauty ideal?

    • Angela

      February 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Very true. And not only do men generally not choose to wear makeup, the few that do are heavily penalized by our culture.

    • Aimee Ogden

      February 7, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Yeah, I think it’s important to acknowledge that we don’t make the choice to wear makeup in a vacuum, but also that if a woman does (or doesn’t) wear makeup, that it’s not an invitation for anyone to tell her their opinion on whether she should be wearing it or not and how it makes THEM feel.

    • Angela

      February 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Yes, especially since there are real consequences attached to the decision that each woman will need to live with.

  18. anonymous

    February 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I get what you’re saying, I do, but it feels a little bit like this father can’t win. Much like discussions of racism, classism or any privilege-based power dynamic, if you want to exact lasting change, you have to be open to inviting others to the table. We can’t simultaneously ask men to stop looking at us as objects and forcing a certain standard of beauty, and simultaneously criticize them for sharing the same messages we want our children to hear but from a father’s male perspective.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 10:35 am

      I can when that male perspective is WRONG

    • anonymous

      February 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Wow. Noted.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 7, 2014 at 10:41 am

      This wasn’t just some guy discussing how one day his daughter grows up and does;t feel FORCED to wear makeup, he basically called out women who do. There’s a big difference.

    • Aimee Ogden

      February 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Yep, we can solve centuries of male privilege by just listening to what the poor men have to say for once!! Women have been writing similar (and a lot more nuanced) things about makeup for ages but this guy waltzes in and thinks he has some amazing new insight to impart to “every woman”. Men have most of the tables, why do we need to “invite” them to take the microphone at ours?

    • Ashley Austrew

      February 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      I think men should be invited to the table to listen and understand. They don’t need to be invited to walk up and start preaching to the table from a male perspective on how women should feel.

  19. Williwaw

    February 7, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I really don’t like the patronizing tone that guy has. First of all, it’s just makeup; it’s not a big deal. Second, I have encountered a lot of guys who have that attitude about their daughters – they say they want them to be smart strong, etc., and also not sexualized (since makeup = sex, and heaven forbid their little princesses ever grow up and have sex lives)…yet curiously, these same guys ignore women who aren’t made up and dressed sexily. A man in my life while I was growing up, was exactly like this – he always insisted that how women looked didn’t matter, and that wearing makeup and dieting were shallow, frivolous pursuits…yet, curiously, he cheated on his wife with a long string of younger, more attractive, lipstick-wearing women, and would disparage overweight women he saw in public. I find most of these public father-to-daughter letters hypocritical in this way.

    • Guest

      February 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

      This reminds me of a snippet I saw of the Kardashian’s show (not intentional I swear) but Kim was saying she wanted to put her kid in a mermaid Halloween costume w/bikini top but that Kanye was not going to have any of it. So you can bang all the chicks in the world and put your fiance topless in your music video but your daughter needs to keep it under wraps? Really?

    • AP

      February 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Babies shouldn’t be sexualized. They’re babies. There’s a huge difference between sexualizing consenting adult women who are paid performers and sexualizing a baby who has no choice in the matter.

      IMHO, someone who spends a lot of time in that environment is more likely to see the risk of sexualizing someone who isn’t ready to accept the consequences of their actions than someone who spends all day in a three-piece suit.

  20. CMJ

    February 7, 2014 at 10:44 am

    If nail polish and lipsticks are a “gauntlet of institutionalized shame” I must be in the biggest ole gauntlet there is…..SO MUCH OPPRESSION.

  21. Aimee Ogden

    February 7, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Jesus. My daughter will be allowed to wear makeup someday if she wants. My son will be allowed to wear makeup if he wants. Wearing makeup doesn’t make you a better or worse person, all it does is make you a person with powder on their face. It may however give idiots an excuse to judge you, but guess what? They’ll do that in any case.

    • Aimee Ogden

      February 7, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Also if either my daughter or son want to wear makeup they’re going to need someone else to show them how so I’m soliciting volunteers now. You’ll be on call starting in about 13 years.

    • MerlePerle

      February 7, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Oh crap, my kids are screwed!

  22. Magrat

    February 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    The only one who can define beauty for you is you. But don’t wear makeup. Thanks Dad.

    Also, I’d like to see an open letter from a dad to his son about makeup. Speaking of institutionalized shame, look at all the creativity and fun boys miss out on for not being allowed to wear sparkly purple eyeshadow.

  23. AP

    February 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    It’s a silly point of view, because responsibly-applied makeup can be empowering. It’s a lot easier to go through life when you’re not constantly feeling like people are staring at the angry red zits on your jaw (thanks, concealer!), or the awkward gap in your eyebrows (thanks, eyebrow pencil!), or that they can ALL TELL you’re completely exhausted on a work day when you need to be 110% (thanks, pink eyeshadow that makes you look alert!)

    I’m not a big makeup person by any means- I hardly wear any on a daily basis unless I’m working at a Professional Job Where I Need To Look Like A Put Together Adult, and then I only wear a “natural” amount. But it is infinitely confidence-boosting to feel that people are listening to your ideas and not tuning you out to wonder “WTF is up with that girl’s eyebrows???”

    • kdk

      February 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      but what’s wrong with red zits, gappy eyebrows and looking tired? i just feel that the societal demand that everybody have clear skin, adheres to the “groomed eyebrows” standard if they want to be perceived as “put together” really needs to be interrogated.

      i don’t think one is less of a “put together” adult because one has zits, doesn’t look as perky as possible or has sparse/really full eyebrows. as long as you’re neat and clean, shouldn’t that be enough? no amount of makeup is “natural” – “natural” looking makeup is a ploy that reinforces a really victorian standard that goes something like “please make yourself look better, but don’t let anybody know you’re trying to look better.” for various reasons.

      im not trying to bash what you’re saying, but if responsibly-applied makeup can be empowering, then why don’t males generally ever feel this need, even when they are tired, zitty, etc? mostly because they’re not judged by an arbitrary beauty ideal.

    • kdk

      February 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      addendum: i think people should wear makeup/not wear makeup, whatever they want, but should also be aware as Aimee and Angela pointed out below, that we don’t make these choices in a vaccuum.

  24. Rachel Sea

    February 7, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    A dude friend once told me he likes women better without makeup, and used me as an example of a gorgeous, un-painted woman. I pointed out that I was wearing eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, and tinted lip gloss.

    Unless he’s a drag queen, or transvestite, most dudes know jack about makeup, it’s use, and it’s cultural significance.

  25. pixie

    February 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I guess my dad failed at warning me against oppression that make-up causes. He’s never said one thing about make-up or fashion or anything like that (other than when I was young telling me not to wear shorts out because It’s -15C with 3 feet of snow). I guess that means I’m #oppressedbymakeup

    That being said, I adore makeup, but am not very good at applying it. I play with it when I get bored and have nothing better to do, but still haven’t mastered much past not stabbing myself in the eye when I put on mascara and eyeliner.

    • Jessica Johnson

      February 9, 2014 at 10:54 am

      If it makes you feel any better, I still stab myself in the eye with the mascara wand. Like every time I try to wear it. And always the right eye.

  26. SA

    February 7, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Personally I could care less if my daughter plays with princesses, wants pink Legos, dreams of wearing makeup. I just want her to be herself and do what she loves and feels comfortable with.

  27. FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    February 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Really beautifully written, Eve 🙂

  28. acadrag

    February 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I was only mildly annoyed until I got to “But I also wrote it for every woman who needs to hear the words of a
    father. Women, no one else can define your beauty for you. But they’ll

    Then I made an audible retching sound. Ugh.

  29. Jules

    February 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    300 lipsticks?
    So much jealousy.

    • Eve Vawter

      February 8, 2014 at 6:10 am

      Keep in mind, I am OLD and I’m sure some of these are now hazardous to your health.. time to purge and clean

  30. gothicgaelicgirl

    February 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Do I get bonus points for flipping off my makeup box this morning cos I overslept and had literally 20 mins to get to work? (Happens more frequently than I care to admit, but let’s just say my fella asks every now and then “What did that poor box do to you?”)

  31. Rella

    February 7, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    If he gets like this by going down the makeup aisle at Target, what would happen if he went to IMATS or PHAMExpo.

  32. ElleJai

    February 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I don’t wear make up because I decided to opt out of the giant treadmill. I still OWN it, I wear it for special occasions and enjoy dressing up with it. (Sometimes, like twice a year, the special occasion could be “It’s Tuesday!”) I’ve held the same stance on make up since I was 7.

    Does it hurt me If anyone else wears it? Not usually. Am I absolutely blessed in dark eyelashes and pretty lips anyway, so no one really knows the difference? Yes. Everyone feels comfortable at a different level, and that’s cool. It only worries me when someone can’t be seen without it, ever, because that kind of addiction/dependency is sad for their self-esteem. But is it my business? Nope.

  33. mom21

    February 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    He doesn’t realize that the subtext of his letter is: don’t be weak, shallow and slutty like all the other women. Also the idea that unhappy women just need to hear kind words from their father is nauseating. Maybe what women need to hear is “be yourself. I will love you no matter what.”

  34. Elisa Probert

    February 9, 2014 at 12:56 am

    I’m only oppressed occasionally! Yay! Unless you count the horrendous torture device otherwise known as the “Bra.”

    Makeup, I use to cheer myself up. When I’m down, I look grey and scary. So I’ll slap on some lipstick (usually as close to natural as I can get while adding a hint of pink. In case you can’t tell from the fangs, my selfie in my avatar here is a Halloween pic and WAY over the top for me. Normally I don’t use anything. Hell, I barely moisturize. (but I do drink enough water to drown a hippo)

  35. Sam Inoue

    February 9, 2014 at 1:20 am

    I don’t like his tone, but I will give him a few points for at least wanting to think the right thing even if he just ended up mansplaining all over it.

    Mostly though I agree wear makeup (which I do almost everyday) or don’t it doesn’t make you any less of anything.

  36. Ashley Austrew

    February 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I don’t like that he tells her not to let anyone else define her beauty while simultaneously attempting to define beauty, power, confidence, etc. for her on his terms. I mean, I appreciate the effort, but his “free yourself from X by being Y” advice isn’t really helping. You can’t teach your kids not to let anyone else tell them who to be when you’re constantly doing it.

  37. scooby23

    February 9, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I own purple sparkly eye shadow and about 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 lip balms/lip glosses, among other things, and I love them. I guess I better turn in my feminist card now.

  38. screamingkitty

    February 10, 2014 at 9:37 am

    That letter made me put on bright pink lipstick

  39. Peter

    February 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Um, “I will surely understand if someday makeup is important to you” and “Where are you the most beautiful? On the inside.” I’m sorry, women have *actual* misogynists to fight than this well-meaning, well-trained psychologist.

  40. Vicki K

    February 10, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I think you totally missed the point of his letter actually. I’m a feminist and didn’t feel patronised at all. I think he made solid points and it was a touching letter to his daughter from someone who mostly ‘gets it’. The fact that we feel the need to nit-pick and in so doing miss the heart of the letter is actually really sad. He wasn’t saying make-up was bad. He was saying the way it’s sold and the deeply misogynistic messages advertisers use are what’s dangerous. You have 300 lipsticks. Good for you. They didn’t help you get the point of the post.

    • Vicki K

      February 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      You’re use of ‘little one’ is also incredibly patronising given she’s not YOUR daughter. I mean is there ever a time when a man is allowed to venture into this stuff without getting jumped on for not getting it 100% right. He’s basically saying his daughter is worth more than her looks, he wants her to follow her heart and be as big and courageous as she wants to be and he wants her to deeply cherish the entirety of who she is. Right away he’s miles ahead of many dads. So crucify the poor guy because you like make up. Jesus Christ.

  41. My Two Cents

    February 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Sorry to disagree but I don’t believe that dad ever told his daughter not to wear make up. I took his point/issue to be more with the names of the product which all seem to imply that the user (targeted at females) lacks something which she needs makeup, etc. to replace. He was encouraging her to be strong and confident in the face of media messages which often tell women they are lacking in many ways.

  42. AAO

    February 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Excuses for buying into the industry that encourages the objectification of women. Do you know how much money went into the cosmetics industry last year? Do you know how much it might cost to educate all illiterate women in the world? Let’s just say that the second figure could fit multiple times into the first.

    • AAO

      February 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

      As a note, I’m a woman, since apparently many women feel that men don’t have the right to comment on the collective state of humanity and sexism these days.

  43. petwrthtrini

    February 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    This letter is truly disappointing. It misses the mark of the initial letter, in which the father told his little girl essentially that make-up, the wearing of it or not, is not the problem. A culture which places value only on a women’s outer beauty IS the problem. Reading comprehension is fundamental. If you’re going to criticize something, at least have a basic understanding of the material you’re criticizing.

  44. zzzzzzz

    February 13, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Many women commenting seem to be missing the point of the first dad’s article in the first place. Not once did he say, “Don’t wear makeup.” He stated that he wishes his daughter will see her beauty without it. He hopes that she doesn’t base her opinion of her own beauty on how she looks “all done up” alone. And as for those who are saying, “I didn’t need to be told that by a man,” and, “These are not new ideas.”…Well, (unfortunately, yes) many women out there do need to hear it from somebody else. For some, it hits home harder when it is a man, as many women still seem to think that all the men of this world want to see us looking ready for a photo shoot every minute of every day. I’m sure the author also realizes that these are not new ideas. I’m almost positive he felt as I do. That while these ideas are not new, they still need to be voiced to every girl and woman.

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