If you follow me on any kind of social media, chances are you’ll see some variation of the following, “I like politics and make up.” Granted, sometimes the variations are very varied, but the point remains the same: I have two great loves in the world and those are politics and make up, or international relations and fashion, whichever I choose to broadcast more. On its own it seems plenty innocent, but I can feel an occasional eyebrow being raised at the dual assertions. What place does make up – and, indeed, extravagant aesthetic – have among the grand schisms of the world? What use of eyeliner and lipstick in the perusal of policy and social thought? Ribbons and frills, UV lit lipstick and rouge cheeks, against the monochrome backdrop of writings established in political canon, where does the connection lie?
I guess there’s a greater meaning underneath the wonder: does something as superficial as make up deserve to be spake in the same breath as international affairs?
Sure. I don’t see why not. But there is one contention – make up is not inherently superficial. It can made to be such, but so can all things (in fact, could one not argue that much of politics is vanity and rhetoric?); but neither is make up inherently revolutionary either. Certainly, it masks and conceals and can become a tool of self-suppression, but there is a glory in it as well, an artistic pleasure in the careful brush strokes, the contouring: matte against shimmer, highlighting, defining, understating, emphasizing, a reclamation of ones own body – ones own face – that suggests confidence. Or just some high quality make up.
But I do recognize that I can sometimes subscribe to the same pretenses I eschew in this post. There is something defensive in the way I assert my loves. Politics and make up: two ends of a spectrum, contradictions (or at the very least, superb contrasts), the worldly and the vain, the masculine and the feminine, and my subconscious assertion that I embody both. That there is some kind of unique Greatness in my polar nature. Is that not a pretense of its own?
I am by no means the only one. Certainly, there is a massive population of women who study the political sciences, who take part in political processes, and who – pretty freakin’ often – slick on lipstick and have perfectly coiffed hair. Admittedly, these women may not always be taken with the same seriousness as their heteronormative, male counterparts and I guess that’s why I wax poetic about cosmetics and fashion, a testament that two seemingly polar things can exist in the same sphere without causing conflict, without spreading one too thin. There is no shame in the feminine, and certainly none when femininity and politics occupy the same framework, the same person. The two are not mutually exclusive – few things are, really. The sooner we can (the sooner I can) come around to the fact that humans are nuanced creatures, the sooner we can stop creating artificial divides based on something as arbitrary as gender roles and norms.
In the meantime, I’ll be cradling my Naked 3 palette and reading about the Eurozone.
UPDATE: I’m done with my first year of college! Hanging out in Dubai until about mid-August, when I return to Boston. Also, as of two days ago, I’m 19 so there’s that.