Levi Grayshon argues that we need to stop judging women by their appearance.

This is a guest post by Levi Grayshon, whose personal blog can be found here.

 I choose to wear make-up purely for myself. I don’t wear it in order to impress people, or to snare a man. I feel that this would be the case for many women. So, why are women constantly being criticised for what make-up they wear?

It’s everywhere. For instance, Tumblr “etiquette” blogs, including the beautifully named “hoetips” posting images that advise their followers to “taste the rainbow, not wear it”. Why do these people care so much about what make-up we wear? Why would it matter to them that I want to wear colourful lipstick, and test out eye shadow? The thing is, it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t matter what you want to do to your own face – it’s your property, not the property of your boyfriend, your Aunt Sue or the man who served you in Tesco this morning.

I find it horrible that in 2012, women are still ridiculed and put under scrutiny for what they choose to do with their bodies. Women’s magazines push their readers to spend their hard earned cash to copy Cheryl Cole’s red carpet look, but are barely ever encouraged to create their own make-up looks and embrace their individuality. We are constantly being pressured into being “perfect”, and conned into purchasing so-called miracle products which hide things rather than embrace them. We are told that our bodies and skin are shameful and our cellulite, wrinkles and even freckles are something to cover up. Yet these things are completely natural.

What is even more contradictory is the fact that we are encouraged to feel nothing but embarrassment over our natural selves. Body hair? Yuck, wax that off. If you don’t then you are a freak. You must endure a bit of pain in order to be “normal”. Pale skin? Quick, cover it up in fake tan. Not too much though, or you’ll look like a dirty slag. Seemingly, there are strict criteria that women must meet. Too much make-up means that we are fake and “slutty”. Not enough means that we are lazy and “manly”. It’s almost as though we have to fit into a narrow bracket to be accepted as a woman.

Shows such as Snog, Marry, Avoid also baffle me. The women who go on the show are stripped of their “fakery”, called names and battered with wet wipes. They are completely stripped of their individuality, and guess how the success of the makeover is measured? Their picture is shown to a cluster of male passers-by who rate the women on the scale of whether they would snog, marry or avoid them.

Is it just me who finds this a bit… well, disturbing?

A woman does not base her looks solely on impressing possible suitors. I, for one, use the way that I dress, do my hair and wear my make-up to express myself. I don’t do it to warrant honks from louts in Fiat Puntos, or gropes at the bar. We should be able to look the way that we want to without constantly being judged for it. Whether that judgement is getting street harassed on the way to the cash machine and being told that you look “up for it”, or being looked upon disapprovingly because you ditched the lipgloss and hair straighteners for a day. For instance, when I had platinum blonde hair I got harassed when I was out and about twice as much as I do now that I have dark hair. I also got a lot more funny looks off fellow women for some reason. Why the hell should I get judged on my hair colour?

What I am trying to say is just this: women need to stop getting judged on what they look like. I don’t care if that lady across the road has a big fat bum and an orange face. No one deserves to have their confidence knocked by people that they don’t even know. Women are more than just a face and a body, they are people. It is nauseating being told how to apply our make-up, style our hair and what to eat to achieve the perfect “bikini body”. The way we look isn’t what defines us, and is just one of the many parts of us that make us interesting people. Does “too much” eyeliner make us a bad person? No.

Close-up photo of a range of different coloured eye shadows by kurafire, shared under a Creative Commons licence.