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I Made Peace With Capitulating to Patriarchal Beauty Standards by Shoplifting All My Skincare

Ever since I was a perfectly symmetrical, rosy-cheeked teenager without acne, I have shunned makeup and beauty products. Makeup is an oppressive tool of the patriarchy. The purpose of any “beauty” product is to maintain the lie that our value comes primarily from how we look. I vowed to never support the beauty industry and I knew that when my wrinkles came in, I would choose to age gracefully.

But as I’ve grown older and my looks have changed, I have found it more and more difficult to get ahead in life due to the perceptions of others falsely informed by my looks. As I found fewer doors opening for me at work and in my personal life, I felt the unfortunate need arise to compromise my values in service of my day-to-day happiness. I needed to start buying into the beauty industry. “Buying,” of course, being the operative word since I’ve been stealing all my beauty products.

The silver lining to living in a society with grossly contorted ideas of how women should look is that a thirty-something wearing her natural face can go completely unnoticed at the office, a party, or even the new arrivals aisle at Sephora. Just as my dignity and personhood were stripped from me by society, so too can I strip Walgreens of its toners, mousse foundations, and hyaluronic acid serums.

The makeup and beauty debate has long been a staple of feminist in-fighting. Where falls the line between Choice Feminism and straightforward adherence to harmful social norms? I can’t answer that. What I can say is that I now have a deeper understanding of the struggle, along with deeper coat pockets crammed full of retinol.