From Tips and Tricks to Ideology and Empowerment: Adopting Liberal Feminism to Encourage Makeup Use on the Internet

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:40
Oral Presentation
Eve BERKOVICH, Amherst College, USA
This paper explores the recent adoption of liberal feminist concepts such as self-empowerment by authors of makeup-related articles on the Internet. I use qualitative analysis to code and identify themes of 24 makeup-related non-advertisement articles targeted at girls and young women. According to the authors of the articles, the main problem surrounding makeup is “makeup shaming,” or, the discouragement of women from wearing makeup. Makeup use, thus, is a subversive and feminist response to this "dominant" norm of makeup shaming. According to the articles, makeup use is a feminist act because it is an expression of agency and a vehicle of empowerment. I evaluate these claims and ultimately argue that makeup use is not a feminist act because individual acts do not lead to social empowerment. I also argue that the idea of makeup shaming as a dominant norm is a red-herring meant to encourage the use of makeup. The true dominant norm coerces girls and women to wear makeup as part of the general encouragement of their conformity to the subordinating construct of femininity.