Highlights: Makeup Philosophy at Stuyvesant

Makeup culture at Stuyvesant.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We all use brushes to comb our hair or to brush our teeth in the morning, but some of us also whip out the brushes required to put on cosmetics. Certain individuals find that slapping on concealer blurs both discolorations and negative self-perceptions. Others seek the identity that rests within them as they don their second skin. Then, there are those who simply wear make-up for amusement. Regardless of these assorted stigmas, students at Stuyvesant can often be seen in the hallways sporting looks ranging from naturals to neons.

First, here is the positive: behind highlighted cheeks and temples, parts of the makeup-wearing crowd believe that wearing makeup is a way to express one’s individuality and creativity. “I feel that Stuyvesant has a very diverse makeup culture, and as makeup is a form of self-expression, it can truly show how varied the cultures, ideas, and ideals in the Stuyvesant student body are,” freshman Julian Cunningham said. It can be said that a makeup wearer’s face is her canvas, with cosmetics serving as a palette of pigments. As artists, they can paint whatever picture they desire.

But just as such powerful fantasy sparks wonderment within them, it may also provoke feelings of inferiority. Critics of makeup often report that it’s a tool of vanity, meant to perpetuate insecurities within consumers in order to inflate profits for cosmetics companies. To the critics’ credit, certain individuals become dependent on utilizing makeup .

“Last year, when I first started wearing makeup, I got so obsessed with it that I insisted on wearing it practically every day and didn’t ever leave the house without it. It got to the point where I hated pictures of me without makeup, and I finally decided that I needed to cut down and change my attitude toward makeup as a whole,” freshman Sarai Pridgen admitted. The makeup wearer will inevitably need to address hidden discontent if she encounters dissatisfaction with her “barefaced” appearance. Otherwise, what initially begins as something fun manifests into a gruesome reminder of societal and personal superficiality.

Though cosmetics usage is more pronounced in the female population than the male population, the latter group sometimes portrays an interest in using the various products. “I’ve noticed a few guys wearing makeup. In fact, I was sitting with a group of friends, and one of the guys in the group mentioned wanting to try out makeup and that he thinks it would be fun. Also, one of my guy friends mentioned that he wants me to help him out with trying out makeup,” freshman Alyssa Meczkowska confessed.

Despite such curiosity, the overwhelming majority of males still don’t intend to ever wear makeup seriously. Freshman Yasmine Chokrane offered one explanation for this phenomenon: “I think they see it as demeaning to their masculinity in a way,” she said. Though the present has been revolutionary in regards to gender roles, and male makeup artists such as Patrick Starr and Angel Marino have emerged in the makeup guru world, males typically still regard makeup usage as something strictly feminine when not used for events such as theatre performances or Halloween parties.

Peer and familial influences often pose the greatest effect on when and why a makeup user starts applying different products. “I do not usually wear makeup. Interestingly, the time I wore makeup consistently was in seventh grade where it was a natural impulse, almost because my friends did. Also, seeing my sister who is three years older wear it made me kind of look up to her and want to be like her, maybe even [wear makeup] to a greater extent,” freshman Lara Somoroff explained. Her view presents the duality of this influence: it can be used for bandwagon purposes that risk limiting an individual, but can also be used as a tool for self-empowerment. And for some, fitting in is in itself empowering.

Regardless, there are those who prefer to disregard cosmetics and go au naturel. “I feel like I don’t need to wear makeup. I don’t have the time, the materials, or the knowledge,” sophomore Arielle Aney said. When inquired if her stance would change if she knew more about makeup application and whether her opinion was influenced by the fact that she is a swimmer, she replied, “I’ve never worn makeup before practice, but I’ve seen how other girls’ mascara will get watery and run. I would probably stay barefaced. I don’t really think I’d like the way makeup would look on me. For example, concealer would make my skin look too smooth for my liking.”

Comparably, Chokrane stated, “I [neither] wear makeup, nor intend to wear makeup for three reasons. One, I do not have time. Two, [it costs] way too much money and [is] really expensive. And three, I’m not comfortable enough with myself to actually put it on. […] I have no views on people [who] do or do not wear it. I don’t care. You [can] do whatever you want.” Other students report that they would rather spend the minutes that they could spend applying makeup sleeping, as sleep deprivation is a definite issue at Stuyvesant.

One may also choose to ditch the poofs and powders for more personal reasons. Somoroff explained how she came to her decision to not wear makeup, admitting, “I wanted to discover myself and what I like, and given that I was leaving my old school, I felt I didn’t need or want to conform to the normal or mainstream attire, […] not because I thought of them as lowly or because I did not like them, but because I did not feel like I had a skin to call my own. I did not feel like wearing the coating of mascara and straightening my hair was really who I was.”

Whether conceited or creative, egocentric or expressive, unthinking or unique, cosmetics don their own set of dual reputations. An art arguably more primitive and influential than other forms of creative expression, the use of makeup will only continue to provoke ideas in the present period. It can never be brushed under the carpet, as it has and will continue to leave its brushstrokes on the rest of the world, one face at a time.