Misty Harris plumbs two viral videos, and explains why cosmetics should be approached like sex
By Misty Harris
Reality check: Time saved by skipping makeup is inevitably time lost to tactless people stopping to ask if I’m sick or tired. Suffice it to say, I wear lipstick and mascara not only because they make me look better, but also because they reduce my chances of assault charges. At the same time, however, I do wish all the recent cheerleading for “natural beauty” were more than skin-deep.
Enter Amy Schumer’s Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup and Nikkie Tutorials’ The Power of Makeup, which have amassed more than 12 million views between them in the last month or so. Though at first blush, the viral videos appear to have opposite messages, both similarly lay bare a beauty culture that sends more mixed messages than AutoCorrect.
Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup, which originally aired on Inside Amy Schumer, entertainingly observes that women are encouraged to embrace natural beauty but given an impossibly narrow definition of what that is (the mock music video starts with a boy-band telling Schumer to rinse her face clean, and ends with them begging her to reapply the war paint). The message is as clear as it is fist-shakingly relatable: the no-makeup bandwagon is the biggest trap since low-calorie chocolate.
The Power of Makeup, which has blown up in recent days, features makeup artist Nikkie de Jager applying cosmetics to just half her face to demonstrate how strikingly beauty products can affect appearance. The video champions the fun and freedom of makeup, aiming to debunk the notion that beauty products signal self-loathing, insecurity, or a desire to pander to the opposite sex. Nine million views later, I’d say it succeeded; if de Jager made her point any more dramatically, she’d need a SAG card.
So how do videos with seemingly competing messages strike viral gold within weeks of each other? Simple: both address the annoying reality that when it comes to makeup, there are more conflicting narratives than Ferguson. Is going bare-faced brave or lazy? A sign of empowerment or having given up? Confident or cry for help? The answer is: all of the above, depending on who you ask, and the extent to which you resemble Miranda Kerr when you get out of bed in the morning.
The videos have a universal appeal, whether you’ve never been inside a Sephora or have been there so many times, they sound a drum roll when you approach. Schumer is a hilarious, capital-F feminist who reminds us that the same people pushing the idea of an au naturel face don’t necessarily reward it in practice; and de Jager offers a refreshing reminder that wearing makeup isn’t tantamount to subverting who you are.
The bottom line? Makeup-use should be approached like sex: male input is common, but it’s often healthiest to just do it for yourself.