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TEEN ISSUES-----wearing makeup

shannny Posted - 23 April 2001 15:50

Is it wrong for a teenage girl to wear makeup?

- 23 April 2001 16:33

Depends what age, what community, and what kind of makeup.

When we say something is "good looking" it means different things in different contexts. When we say "That's a beautiful mountain", "beautiful" means "majestic"; a "beautiful deer" means graceful; a beautiful lion "means powerful and royal"; a "beautiful slapshot" means "fast and hard"; a "beautiful computer" means "sleek and modernistic".

When we say "a beautiful woman", we don’t mean she looks like a space ship, like we would mean when we say the new Panasonic boon box is a "beautiful machine."

We mean one thing: This woman is attractive to men.

The things that make women "beautiful", including being young-looking, are those things that attract men to them. Logically, there is nothing more beautiful about a young woman than an old woman, considering that an old woman represents wisdom, experience, accomplishment, and honor. But she's not as attractive to men.

And, it is also a fact: Makeup is designed to make girls more attractive to men. It makes your eyes bigger than they really are, your lips redder, your cheekbones higher, and to hide various physical imperfections.

For a girl to say "I am not interested in looking attractive to men; Im just interested in looking beautiful", she is contradicting herself.

Now there’s nothing wrong with a woman being beautiful, including attractive to men. It’s the way Hashem made her. But now the question is, is there anything wrong with a teenage girl artificially enhancing her looks in a way that all that changed is now she is more attractive to men.

Is it right for a 15 year old to do that?

Obviously not. But the problem is, in today's secular society, women have become objectified to the point where it is considered almost weird not to wear makeup, even at age 15, since it is soooooo a part of secular society that girls are expected to want to attract guys.

That’s why guys don’t wear makeup. Seriously. Makeup would make men more attractive to women and movie stars always wear makeup on the set. And when you see a picture of a celebrity caught on the street without his makeup, he definitely looks much more blah.

But because society, for whatever reason, emphasizes looks more by women than men and so women are expected to be "look" perfect, while men can still get away by being judged by their "attitude".

But whatever. So really, girls have no reason to wear makeup until they’re of marriageable age, after which they indeed would like to look more attractive to men. Otherwise, it doesn’t accomplish anything, except make the girl more comfortable in a society that declared that sexiness is "normal attire" for women. Unfortunately, we Yidden cannot accommodate that kind of societal demands. We have our own society.

We hope. So here's the story: If a girl is living in a Torah society she has zero reason to wear makeup until she’s ready to start attracting guys. If she’s living among a very secular society, I would not pick this as my battle. If she has the guts and the strength to walk around different than everyone else, then more strength to her! If not, I would definitely not force such a rule in a community where every 15 year old girl is walking around with makeup. You have to know where your people are holding.

ptgard2281 Posted - 23 April 2001 22:07

That's not true, though. Girls do have reasons other than to impress guys. What about girls who lack self confidence or feel like they are ugly? What about those who are going somewhere to make an impression for a job interview? I mean, there are dozens of reasons other than to impress the guys. They should viably be allowed to wear makeup.

MODERATOR Posted - 23 April 2001 22:12

I didn’t say the motivation of the girls is to impress guys. I said the definition of beauty, in the sense that make-up makes them beautiful, is that they are more successful in impressing guys.

So if a girl feels ugly without makeup and pretty with makeup, and therefore she feels "bad" about herself, it means that unless she has the ability to attract guys she will feel bad about herself. This is true because objectively, the only thing the makeup did for her was give her that ability.

It did not make her look wiser, more experienced, a better person, etc., all of which could define "prettiness". The problem is not her intention but her perspective, that being able to artificially enhance your face so that you can attract guys (that’s all makeup does) makes you feel better.

The solution is for her to get a perspective on what ought to make a person feel good and what’s "hevel hevolim".

The job interview may be a legitimate reason to wear makeup, depending on the situation, the age of the girl, etc. But that’s not what these schools who prohibit makeup are talking about.

shannny Posted - 24 April 2001 14:17

Do you really think that girls wear makeup to impress guys, b/c that sure seems like what you're saying? There's no isur in looking good and that basically what a girl is trying to do when she wears makeup. Lets say a girl go to an all girls camp, is it then permissible to wear makeup?

MODERATOR Posted - 24 April 2001 14:53

No, that’s not what Im saying. Im NOT saying that the reason girls wear makeup is to impress guys. No, no, no.

I agree with you that girls wear makeup to look good.

But the question is, what kind of "good looks" does makeup give a girl, because there are many different kinds of "good looks".

A lion who "looks good" means powerful, or majestic. A skinny lion does NOT look good.

A rabbi who "looks good" means a Hadras Panim that makes him appear to be a Tzadik. A rabbi's "looks" are enhanced, let's say, with a long flowing beard.

A mountain that "looks good" means awe inspiring and tremendous. A petite mountain is a loser, looks-wise.

So "good looks" can mean many things. What does it mean when we say a girl all made up is more "good looking" than a girl with a bare face?

Majestic? Powerful? Awe inspiring? No.

How about wise? Experienced? She looks more like a baalas midos? Also no.

What exactly does makeup enhance about your looks? Specifically?

There’s only one thing makeup makes you look: More attractive to guys. Not richer, not smarter, not even healthier (on the contrary - nowadays, the minimal-to-no-makeup look is considered healthy, like on the cover of those herbal magazines).

It makes you look sexier, that’s all.

Now when girls put on makeup, they don’t think about this, because it’s so ingrained in their heads that makeup somehow makes you "look better". And it does, in a way. Just now you know which way.

And that’s the problem. To secular society, that’s the definition of "good looking", that is, attractive to guys. So when a secular person says "I want to be more good looking", the default value of that statement means she wants to look more appealing to the opposite sex. They’re so into sex, the Goyim, that when they say "good looking" that’s what it means to them. And to them, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what their main reason for "looking good" is.

But should we share that definition of "good looking"? When a Bas Yisroel says "I want to improve my looks" that’s fine, but the question is, In what way do you want your looks to improve?

Again, the terms "pretty", "good looking", "better looking" are all ambiguous and mean something different when referring to different things.

So what does it mean when referring to you?

If makeup is what makes you look better, then looking better means one thing.

So the issue is not if it is assur to look good. The issue is what is there about high cheekbones that are "better looking" than lower ones? Is it healthier? Wiser? or more attractive to guys?

Same thing with shiny lips or blueish eyelids. What's "good looking" about blueish eyelids?

Only one thing.

No, I am not saying at all that girls want to attract guys so they put on makeup. Not at all. Especially since little girls like 8 and 9 think they "look good" in makeup too. But I am saying that we are so brainwashed by society's definition of "good looking" that we accept it without thinking about what it means and what looking good is actually good for.

There is nothing wrong with looking good. And there is nothing wrong with even being attractive to guys - that’s the way Hashem made you. But if you’re interested in Tznius it means not to go out of your way to make yourself even more attractive to guys by painting dark lines around your eyes and lips, painting your face to make believe your cheek bones are higher, and coloring your eyelids with unnatural color.

Lipstick emphasizes your lips, attracting attention to them, nothing more. Is that "good looking"? What do you think girls gain by attracting attention to their lips except if its guys' attention that they’re attracting? In what other context does attracting attention to your lips have any meaning at all?

That’s not why you’re doing it - you’re doing it because society convinced you that that's generically "good looking". But what society says is good-looking is not at all generic. It means one thing.

All Im asking is that you think of what these specific types of enhancements to your looks accomplishes. It does not make you look healthier or wiser or stronger or sweeter. And then understand what is DOES do to your looks. And even though that’s not what you intend, that’s what’s happening. And the reason we don’t realize it is because were so brainwashed by secular society - the part of it that’s so into sex - that we accept, without thinking, their philosophy of what "good looking" is.

alex123 Posted - 24 April 2001 16:53

If men shouldn't marry woman based on their looks, why is there even a need to wear makeup when you reach a marriageable age? Hopefully, your husband is marrying you for who you are, not for your looks. So, why is makeup necessary then?

MODERATOR Posted - 24 April 2001 16:55

A man should not marry an otherwise inappropriate girl on the basis of her looks, but he is surely allowed to seek out a good girl that is also attractive.

growinggirl Posted - 24 April 2001 17:16

Ok- what about a bais yaakov girl who's goal is not to attract boys- but rather to look nice- because despite what you say- I still have to persist in saying that girls do want to look good- not just to attract guys. what about to look good for future shidduchim?

When ppl look at you now- they'll remember you- and don't say that looks don’t' matter- because when ppl look at shidduch prospects, they do take the physical aspects into consideration. and also- of "variable age" doesn't just have to be 18. ppl remember girls from when they are 15 and 16. I know because I’ve seen this.

MODERATOR Posted - 24 April 2001 17:19

You probably wrote your post before I posted my last one. I didn’t say BY girls wear makeup to attract guys. The remembering about a shiduch thing is rare, and it can be more damaging if they remember that she wore makeup at 15. In any case, it’s not a reason to wear makeup now, because of the slight chance that in 4 years someone’s gonna remember seeing you.

shannny Posted - 24 April 2001 21:13

You gave a very impressive answer, but didn’t answer the part about going to an all girl's camp where clearly you don’t want to look sexy or look good in the eyes of boys because there are none. You do it because it's fun to sometimes wear makeup and you want to also look good once in a while in the eyes of your peers. Can you wear makeup there? Also can you wear makeup to a chusunah? Everyone gets dressed up from chasunos and look good mainly for the kalah herself.

growinggirl Posted - 25 April 2001 18:37

You're right--- I did write my reply before I read that last one- and thank you for clarifying because it makes sense. but does that mean that a girl who wants to do what is right should stop wearing makeup? what if it helps her self esteem?

MODERATOR Posted - 25 April 2001 18:57


In an all girls camp you go swimming in front of each other, so how can wearing makeup in front of each other be worse?

But the issue still remains that by thinking you look "better" in makeup, you are accepting the secular notion that how "good" you look depends on how much your looks can attract guys. Even if no guys are around, you’re still using that criterion as your yardstick for how good you look.

The idea is to reach the level where you will consider "good looking" to mean that you look happier and healthier, as opposed to "more attractive". Its a philosophy issue more than a Tznius issue, in an all-girl's camp.

The same thing applies to "growinggirl". If you want to do the "right thing", change your attitude about what "good looking" means. Then you wont want to wear makeup until the proper time.

ptgard2281 Posted - 25 April 2001 22:40

Mod, you are giving a valid answer, but I think you are subjecting your answer to your own personal opinions. That could be your definition of beauty and what a girl does to make herself pretty, etc. As a female, though, I completely disagree -- I think that when I don't wear makeup in many situations, I look messy . . . the makeup helps put my face together just as a well tailored suit. If I am wearing a great suit without the makeup, I might look like I was too lazy to complete the outfit.

MODERATOR Posted - 25 April 2001 22:45

Yeah but logically high cheekbones aren’t less "messy" than lower ones; and your eyelids certainly are not more "messy" because they don’t have blue stuff on them; your lips aren’t "messy" in their natural state.

I believe you really feel that way, but what you consider "messy" here is not consistent with "messy" everywhere else. Everywhere else it means dirty or disorganized or something like that, and a natural face is nothing of the sort. Its society that brainwashed us into thinking that without makeup we're messy, even though if you think of it logically it makes no sense.

The makeup manufacturers do NOT try to produce products that make you less "messy." They try to produce products that make you more desirable or noticeable to guys. Its because society is so messed up and commercialized that we equate "clean" with "desirable to the opposite sex".

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