Combining Perspectives: Poststructuralism and Feminist Criticism

Buzzfeed_MakeupUsing what you’ve learned from our unit on Post-Structuralism and our unit on Feminist Criticism, discuss what is going on in these tweets (compiled by Grace Spelman for Buzzfeed). Think especially about Baudrillard’s discussion of the “simulacrum” and that crucial third stage in which the sign disguises the fact that there is no corresponding reality underneath. What might a critic combining post-structuralist and feminist criticism have to say about these tweets?

DUE DATE: Thursday, April 6


2 thoughts on “Combining Perspectives: Poststructuralism and Feminist Criticism

  1. “Makeup-Free” as a Oppressor

    First and foremost, what appears to be going on in those series of tweets is simply of display of the male ignorance of makeup. As I scrolled through the compilation it became clear that an alarming amount of men are under the guise that beautiful women who wear makeup and in fact not wearing makeup. This of course, as we are told by the disillusioned BuzzFeed author, is false. Several of the models, actresses, and singers who are being heralded and praised by the men on social media for being beautiful in pictures of them “makeup free” are actually wearing makeup (the scandal). Of course, this realization is not one unseen before; the media has always been good at augmenting the truth and creating a smokescreen effect. This is something Baudrillard puts a name to: “simulacrum”, in which “the sign disguises the fact that there is no corresponding reality underneath”. What the simulacrum creates, is the false reality that women wearing makeup are in fact not wearing makeup, and consequently creates the notion that women should be more beautiful makeup free and that women should always wear makeup, considering raised standards (for if makeup is meant to enhance and a woman with minimal makeup is thought to be without makeup and beautiful, what would judges say about the woman without makeup at all). This raised standard, a direct product of the simulacrum, is telling of the patriarchal notions in our society, and more generally, our society’s narrow perception of beauty. In one of the tweets, a woman laments how if she wears a full face of makeup, men lambaste her wearing too much, if she wears minimal makeup, men applaud her for going “makeup free” and when she goes makeup free, men tell her she looks “tired” or “sick”. Not only does this story reveal the foolishness of men who can’t tell tinted moisturizer from natural skin, but it also shows how women are pressured into conforming to a certain beauty aesthetic men desire: the minimal makeup, no makeup look. It’s something that coveted by many women; go into the YouTube search engine and countless tutorials describing how to do a “no-makeup makeup look” litter the page. It is also not only a look that women try to achieve, but it also prevents women from being comfortable without makeup at all. If a woman who is not particularly stunning without makeup (no one is) dares to go makeup free, she is then regarded as looking sickly or tired. It is also what largely keeps women from acting per their own agency (whether to wear makeup or not), forcing them to conform to structure and a set of ideals, lest risk chastisement or worse—social exile. It’s hard to read these tweets and not consider the innocent ignorance of the men on social media; how are they to know what makeup and makeup free is when exposure is rare? The men that contribute to the threads are very low on the hierarchical totem: belief that women should wear makeup is one fed to us by the media, which is manipulated by several outlets with several different agendas, many of which are patriarchal. By maintaining the illusion that celebrities with makeup are makeup free, men on social media then laud celebrities, which makes women feel inadequate if they do not look as the celebrities do. It’s a debilitating process that cripples and oppresses women, but a solution isn’t really discernible. Should men take makeup lessons to be able to combat this or should women boycott the media and put a stop to achievable standards? Personally, I think the former is much more enriching and less work—boys should be able to tell the difference, for their own sake (nobody likes ignorance!).

    -Sara Nuila-Chae


  2. The tweets are showing how men simply are never satisfied with how women look. Some are very delicate and think that women who wear too much makeup look ugly and some think that the ones that don’t wear makeup look ugly as well. They claim that women are naturally beautiful but still judge those that don’t wear makeup. Women never seem to put or not put the right amount of makeup to catch a mans attention. It is difficult to try to please all men. Some men even take it to the extreme and begin to assume reasons as to why the women isn’t wearing makeup. For example they might say that they are having a bad day and decided to not put makeup on today but some women enjoy having random natural days. Some men even believe that women are not wearing makeup but as a matter of fact, some are just with a slight touch of it. The tweet for me is inappropriate because she is beautiful whether she wears makeup or not and that is simply her. She is no different with the makeup on or off and is why i believe plenty of people judge women for the amount of makeup they either wear or don’t wear at all.
    Erika Perez-Moreno


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