by Shawn Tucker:
I get it—I really do. You want to say, “hey, I like you just the way you are” or “just the way God made you is wonderful” or “you can feel at home around me without the need to change how you look.” I get how in your mind that sounds great. It sounds like you really care about her and you don’t want her to feel the need to change herself. Toss in how you don’t want her to feel like she has to keep up with (worldly) ideas of beauty or value and hey, you are trying to say something genuinely kind and loving. And while that is what you are thinking, there’s a really good chance that that is not the message she’s getting.
I have two daughters who take quite different approaches to makeup. One daughter takes time to regularly wear makeup. The other daughter, well if she has makeup on then you know two things: 1—this must be some event or occasion and 2—her sister probably did it. And both are lovely, lovely women! What I have learned is that there is a lot more to wearing makeup than one might think. My daughter spends a fair amount of time every day applying her makeup. She is a naturally lovely woman, and when she wears makeup she is still lovely, and lovely in a different way. There seems to be something extra sparkly about her eyes and extra lovely in her smile.
But the fact that women look lovely in makeup is not the only reason why you Modern Mormon Men should avoid telling women that they look better without makeup. Perhaps the most important reason is because they didn’t ask you and their choice to wear makeup is not really about you. It is their choice and it is for them. The process of putting on makeup can be an important ritual, an activity where she uses her talents, creativity, and skill to add beauty and luster to what God has given. Sure, perhaps some women have men in mind, and perhaps some have other women in mind, but the reasons for wearing makeup are far more complex (and interesting) than to appeal or impress others or because of backwards, ignorant ideas about vanity.
Some of you might think, “well, natural beauty is always better than whatever is artificial.” And for guys who don’t wear makeup that makes sense, since all of those beauty products are so foreign to us and our experience. All those creams, powders, brushes, wands—they all seem so unnecessary, so expensive, and so time consuming. Nature has to trump all that stuff. Of course if that is your argument, then perhaps she’d be more naturally beautiful if she stopped washing her face or brushing her teeth. She’d be “natural” enough then, just like God and nature would have her, and that would be unpleasant. In fact we all do lots of “unnatural” things to make ourselves healthier and more pleasing to our senses and to others.
Still not convinced? Still think it is time and money poorly and unnecessarily spent? Okay, then think about this—which would you rather have: a very nice painting of a beautiful, majestic landscape or a “naturally beautiful” blank canvas? I ask this question because there is a tremendous amount of skill and expertise that women must master in order to apply makeup in the lovely way they do. Developing those skills takes time, practice, and patience. When you say that they look better without it, you discount all of that work. In fact, just spend a few minutes watching some YouTube tutorials about applying makeup and you will see how difficult it is. The fact that she looks so lovely and has such artistic skills can generate an appreciation for her and her talents in modifying so beautifully what God and nature have given. So hey, let’s not diminish or dismiss that with what we might wrongheadedly believe to be a compliment.
Shawn Tucker grew up with amazing parents and five younger, wonderful siblings. He served as a missionary in Chile during the Plebiscite and the first post-dictatorship election. After his mission, he attended BYU, where he married ... you guessed it ... his wife. They both graduated, with Shawn earning a BA in Humanities. Fearing that his BA in Humanities, which is essentially a degree in Jeopardy, would not be sufficient, Shawn completed graduate work in the same ... stuff ... at Florida State University. He currently teaches at Elon University in North Carolina. He and ... you guessed it ... his wife have four great children. Twitter: @MoTabEnquirer. Website: motabenquirer.blogspot.com.
Image credit: Lorenzo Herrera.