Two pictures sit side by side. One, a gorgeous, flawless girl with crisp brows and berry lips. The other, a sickly-looking girl with undereye circles and acne scars. Two different faces, same girl. The caption reads, “This is why you take her swimming on the first date.”
The meme spread like wildfire and so did the unwarranted self-victimization of men.
Though the meme was first introduced on Reddit, it soon spread to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
“Women get up every day and one of the first things they do before they even leave the house is put on a face that lies to the world,” Reddit user oni-anthony wrote. “The majority of women even refuse to be seen in public without their liars face on.”
On another online forum a user who called himself kazimiera posted 15 pictures comparing women of various ethnicities with and without makeup.
“Makeup isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” he wrote. “It can be used as an artistic expression, but sometimes it can also be used as a tool of deception.”
One can only imagine the image of women these men possess. A wicked, malicious woman applying and blending out her eyeshadow cackling, “this will surely trick that boy into loving me!”
Megan Dong, a storyboard artist for Nickelodeon, said men place undue pressure on women.
“I don’t think (men) realize that their expectations of women are unrealistic and unfair and that the idea that women only wear makeup for the benefit of men is presumptuous,” she said.
Dong created a series of comics that make fun of some men’s irrational phobia that women wear makeup to fool them.
“I think that most men who prefer the ‘natural’ look don’t realize that most women wear makeup to achieve it,” she wrote.
If women do not wear makeup to trick men, then why do they?
One possible suggestion is proposed by research published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
“Results suggest that women are likely wearing cosmetics to appeal to the mistaken preferences of others,” the study said.
A survey conducted by the Renfrew Center Foundation, a non-profit that studies eating disorders, found that 48 percent of women wear makeup because they prefer the way they look with it on.
Makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, author of “Face Paint: The Story of Makeup,” agreed.
“After 20 years of working as a makeup artist I can say quite confidently that women wear makeup for themselves,” she said. “There are many different roles makeup can play in a woman’s life. There’s the playful and creative aspect. Who doesn’t enjoy swirling a brush in a palette of color? Then there’s the confidence-building aspect. Why not cover a huge red blemish on your nose if you can? Makeup can make you feel more powerful and ready to face any situation.”
YouTube makeup guru NikkieTutorials expressed the same sentiment in her viral video “The Power of Makeup.”
“Girls have been almost ashamed to say that they like makeup because nowadays when they say that they like makeup you do it because you either wanna look good for boys, you do it because you’re insecure or you do it because you don’t love yourself,” she said. “I just want people to know that makeup is fun and there are no rules to makeup.”
Getting a woman to go swimming on the first date might get her makeup off, but it will not wash away the fact that his motivation swims in the shallow end.
“(The meme is) basically saying that women are ugly without makeup, (but) also vilifying them for wearing it,” Reddit user fortytwoturtles said in a comment.
What are women selling? Their face? Their bodies? To whom? Why? Are women so devoid of humanity that all they are is a product to be consumed?
Is “natural beauty” more important than character?
“How can you say that we are fake when you don’t even have the decency to find out what’s inside our heads before finding out what’s behind our contour,” user rvoke said on Tumblr.
Holly Riordan commented on TheBolde, a social lifestyle website, that beauty is more than skin deep.
“Sure, we might look a little different when we wipe it all off for the night, but our personality doesn’t change with our mascara,” she said. “If men really liked us for who we are instead of for superficial reasons, then the ‘false-advertisement’ complaint would be moot.”
Adrienne Ressler, the national training director for the Renfrew Center Foundation, said that makeup is deeply embedded in our culture.
“Wearing makeup to enhance one’s appearance is normal in our society and often a rite of passage for young women,” she said.
Despite criticism from men, women should continue to use makeup as they please. Beauty and makeup communities on the Internet are comforting places of refuge from snarky male condemnation.
Ironically, women can benefit from this meme. They now know that any man who agrees, retweets, reblogs or shares the meme is someone that should be avoided.
In a video viewed more than 29 million times on NikkieTutorials, makeup is presented as a tool of empowerment for women.
“Makeup is there for days when you wanna look hella good and that’s why I love the power of makeup.”