Makeup, labels protect against judgment, do not make someone ‘fake’

Illustration by Chris Sanford

Recently on Instagram, a makeup artist posted before and after photos of her clients, who were all by some degree involved in adult entertainment, with and without makeup.

The odd part of this story was the comments on the artist’s site and on several news sites where the story was carried and reposted. Generally, readers took offense to the women’s use of makeup, saying that without it they seemed more human. Some of the news coverage tended to agree, saying that the girls before and after looked like entirely different people.

This critique largely follows a societal trend toward the public shaming of “fakers.” The idea here is that girls who wear makeup are fake. This is almost a “Blade Runner”-esque problem of not knowing what is real and what isn’t. First of all, do men in particular really know all that much about makeup? Can we really judge whether someone is being “fake?”

I know that generally guys like girls who have a more natural look, but commenters on a Girl’s Life article from April 2007 suggest that while this is what guys say, they can’t actually tell the difference between someone’s face with “natural” makeup and without it. Intrigued, I decided to test this.

I picked 10 random photos and, after inspection, decided eight of them were all-natural. When I double-checked, however, I realized I was correct on only four photos. Why? My thinking process was, if a girl has only blush and eyeliner on, she isn’t technically wearing makeup. I essentially concluded that wearing makeup didn’t count as wearing makeup.

The people condemning these girls for being fake don’t seem to understand that everyone has their form of armor to protect them from one thing or another. We live in a society where we judge people based on their looks and then say that beauty products used to make oneself prettier are worse than the snarky T-shirts we wear to prove to our peers that we are funny.

What other forms of armor do people wear? Have you ever heard someone lament an acquaintance’s ignorance because they haven’t taken part in some form of popular culture? There was a scene about this in the recently released movie “Pitch Perfect.” The boyfriend berates our protagonist for not having seen movies like “Star Wars” and “The Breakfast Club.”

We are forced to take part in pop culture whether we like it or not. Is it too much to ask for a few creature comforts? I just hope Melissa Joan Hart’s character realizes that her scoffing at Keri Pratt’s character’s name is the same thing that made her change it in the first place.

It really shouldn’t take the context of “Drive Me Crazy” to understand that someone changing their name to fit in is wrong. It’s not an inability to cope, it’s a public overreaction. People shouldn’t judge or hate each other for being “fake.”

Patrick White is a junior in journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to