Why I hate make-up

The very fact that it exists means that some women feel they have to wear it every day.

There was an odd moment during my (already odd) cameo on Vernon Kay's show last week. They went over to an entertainingly distracted, seemingly drunk George Lamb for an update on Big Brother. Throughout his bit, there was a girl with her back to the camera, wearing headphones, obviously part of the show, working. For a lark, Vernon got George Lamb to tap her on the shoulder and make her turn round.

She turned round, slightly self-consciously, and waved. She had small sweat patches. Vernon said: "She's a bit sweaty!" Brian Dowling, my co-guest, said spitefully: "She's not wearing make-up!" And that was that; she'd had her five minutes of fame. I felt really uncomfortable.

There are many reasons to disapprove of the above events, not least the idea of taking the piss out of someone who is just doing their job and doesn't expect to be judged on their appearance, when you yourself are no more than a professional chancer who could just as easily be on the crew (I'm talking about Dowling here, not Kay). But I think what troubles me is the notion that if someone's a woman, it's fine to expect them to be made up and to bitch about them if they're not.

Make-up has its uses all right, and it's made people look stunning before now, but overall I would say it is one of the vilest things ever devised -- and not just because I hate having it on my face on TV. The very fact that it exists means that some women feel they have to wear it every day. If all the women who spend half an hour "making up" every morning did something else with that half-hour, the results would be startling. I'm not blaming the women themselves. I just think it's a pity.

And it's a pity, too, that if you're a woman but choose not to pretty yourself up, you are categorised as a "quirky" or "alternative" woman, in the same way that a woman with big tits can't just be beautiful, she has to be "the attractive larger woman" in a feature in Heat magazine, who "love X's new curvy look" but two months later will be accusing X of being in "BINGE HELL".

I realise the subject is rather more complicated than this; plenty of women find make-up and cosmetics generally empowering, not constricting, and so on. But I still find it a pity that after everything that's happened, women are still subject to the sort of easy instant judgement that the fashion world imposes, and some women even actively conspire in it. That's all.

I think I'm a feminist.


This post originally appeared on Mark Watson's blog.

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Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.
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What do Labour's lost voters make of the Labour leadership candidates?

What does Newsnight's focus group make of the Labour leadership candidates?

Tonight on Newsnight, an IpsosMori focus group of former Labour voters talks about the four Labour leadership candidates. What did they make of the four candidates?

On Andy Burnham:

“He’s the old guard, with Yvette Cooper”

“It’s the same message they were trying to portray right up to the election”​

“I thought that he acknowledged the fact that they didn’t say sorry during the time of the election, and how can you expect people to vote for you when you’re not actually acknowledging that you were part of the problem”​

“Strongish leader, and at least he’s acknowledging and saying let’s move on from here as opposed to wishy washy”

“I was surprised how long he’d been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn’t look old enough”

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"“He’s the older guy with the grey hair who’s got all the policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well is what he comes across as” 

“I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles”

“He was just going to be the opposite of Conservatives, but there might be policies on the Conservative side that, y’know, might be good policies”

“I’ve heard in the paper he’s the favourite to win the Labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won’t be voting for Labour, put it that way”

“I think he’s a very good politician but he’s unelectable as a Prime Minister”

On Yvette Cooper

“She sounds quite positive doesn’t she – for families and their everyday issues”

“Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well”

“We had Margaret Thatcher obviously years ago, and then I’ve always thought about it being a man, I wanted a man, thinking they were stronger…  she was very strong and decisive as well”

“She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]”

“I think she’s trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she’s dumbing herself down”

On Liz Kendall

“None of it came from the heart”

“She just sounds like someone’s told her to say something, it’s not coming from the heart, she needs passion”

“Rather than saying what she’s going to do, she’s attacking”

“She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn’t seem to have any sort of personality, and you can’t imagine her being a leader of a party”

“With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there’s a lot of rhetoric but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of direction behind what they’re saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action.”

And, finally, a piece of advice for all four candidates, should they win the leadership election:

“Get down on your hands and knees and start praying”

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.