This video features American YouTube video-blogger, sex educator, and feminist activist Laci Green exploring wearing makeup as a feminist issue. She addresses common debates, such as whether wearing makeup is feminist, empowering, or sexist, and ultimately dismisses all of these limiting frames. The video begins with Laci talking about how people interacting with her on social media will sometimes ask her why she does not shave but does wear makeup. She talks about the lucrative makeup industry, the many YouTube makeup tutorial videos and communities, and briefly traces a few historical examples of how makeup was used in different contexts, such as by ancient Egyptians, male theater performers, and companies selling Hollywood looks, and how these norms and conventions change with social and historical context. She then highlights five common issues that people have around makeup: 1) “professional obligation,” 2) social pressure, 3) unnecessary gendering, 4) judgment and unsolicited opinions, and arguing that 5) femininity is not inferior, relating different kinds of comments and social situations to systemic sexism and discrimination. Laci Green also explores the topic of whether wearing makeup can be feminist, ending with the sentiment that women should be free to do what they want with their bodies because one way of continuing to repress and discriminate against women is by critiquing and policing their appearance as they try to navigate their relationship to changing social norms.
How does Laci Green move the conversation beyond debating whether makeup is empowering or sexist? Why is this either-or framing problematic?
What historical examples does she use to show how makeup has been used and related to differently in various social and historical contexts? How would you describe how it is used today?
What five common issues about the social aspects of wearing makeup does she highlight? What examples does she use to make her points? Do any of them sound familiar to you? Have you ever received or made those kinds of comments? Were there any that were particularly surprising to you?
Laci begins the video with a personal story and talks about how she negotiates different gendered social norms, such as shaving and wearing makeup. How does this make you think about your own relationship to makeup, or assumptions and expectations about people who wear or do not wear makeup? How do these expectations differ according to gender?