The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are in full swing, and we’re loving all the competition, athleticism, and pageantry of the event that can actually bring the world together for a few weeks. But…<deep cleansing sigh> are we really talking about female athletes wearing makeup? Honestly, it’s something we barely notice, even in bedazzled ones.
We read Paste Magazine’s In Defense of Gymnastic Makeup at the Olympics article, and thank you for defending this idea. These women are so strong, and not just the gymnasts. All the female athletes (and male ones) have worked their butts off to be the best of the best, and are representing their countries with talent, pride, and poise. SO WHAT if the ladies want to wear makeup. If this is what works for them, go for it girl!
Why is this even a topic of conversation. Sorry, rhetorical question… it’s the media, we’re talking about here.
The author, Emily Jensen, asks the question if it’s problematic that the girls are worrying about their makeup when they’re out there competing in such physically demanding ways; she answers, “Only if you consider sports and beauty to be incongruous. But as we know, they generally are. And not just for the practical reason that anything but the most carefully applied makeup is going to slide right off your face while working out. Makeup is, we assume, frivolous, superficial and a whole host of other adjectives traditionally associated with femininity, while sports are serious, strong and of course, masculine.” I noted her sarcasm. You should, too.
Frivolous and superficial… we all know this is the traditional standard affixed to wearing makeup. Like it’s something we women shouldn’t have to do to feel good about ourselves. Apparently, you can be either strong or sexy. Just not both. Plu-lease. But, you know what? Many women feel better about themselves when they have makeup on, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.I work out with a woman who has full on cat-eye makeup, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to meet up with her in a dark alley – she is extremely strong (and totally sexy – yeah, I have no issues saying that about another female), and can and will kick you ass, if needed.
Frivolous and superficial are the kinda notions that spurred the whole #nomakeupmovement thing… whatever. “Empower yourself without makeup.” Again, whatever. Wear makeup, don’t wear makeup. Dress up, don’t dress up. You know what? Ladies, for the love of all that is good and kind, please just do what makes you happy and feel good about yourself. If you feel better wearing makeup, yeah! If you go a la natural with no makeup, yeah! Jean and I look like the Living Dead sans makeup, even with a tan. We choose makeup for our own personal sense of what makes us feel good. Please, do the same. We applaud your decision, either way.
We are both makeup wearers (see the Living Dead comment above), and when we even notice the makeup on the female athletes, we just think it works for them. “As gold and silver medalist McKayla Maroney told Teen Vogue, “In gymnastics, everything is a competition. You want to have your hair look the best and your makeup look the best. You want to be the best, and you want to have the prettiest leotard.” Some of the events are showier than other, and that’s OK. Showmanship seems to be somehow evaluated in the overall final score. We love watching the synchronized swimmers with their equally fabulous, glittery outfits and makeup. And we love watching the raw strength of the female lifters, and the speed of the female runners. We love it all, makeup or not.
These female athletes are women we want our young girls to look up to. This is the confidence we want them to have.
The article goes on to say, “The reality is that for many people…makeup is just another form of self-expression.” Amen. Amen. Amen. Express yourself in whatever way you want. Wear that makeup. Be strong and sexy. Because in our minds, strong is sexy. And we think it actually works the other way, too. Sexy is strong. Why? Because you’re confident enough to be who you are.
And just to be clear here, people, 99% of the human population cannot pull off anywhere near the athletic feats these women (and men) are doing at the Rio Games. The other 1% are in Rio. I think that entitles our gals to wear whatever makeup, glitter, and bedazzling they want. Besides, the world can use more glitter.
Synchronized Swimmer Image Attribution: By Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0