An article posted earlier
on The Daily HIIT asked if makeup is the western version of the burqa and received (rightly so) some very angry comments. The quick and simple answer to this question is a flat out NO. But, let's break down why the answer is no for anyone that might be confused.
The first sentence of the article states that the questions is a figurative one, perhaps in an attempt to erase the offensiveness of the question. However, it doesn't work, because figuratively means to represent, or symbolize... and makeup does not, in any way, represent hijab. It's the exact opposite of hijab. Makeup is applied to attract others, and to draw attention to the physicality of the person wearing it. Hijab is a symbol the woman's faith and modesty.
Next, the article talks about makeup being used to cover insecurities, imperfections, and flaws. We're also told that makeup began as an enhancement and changed into something that hides a woman, and is used by women scared to leave the house. Again, hijab is none of this. Just because it is normally not worn worn inside the house does not mean that the women who wear hijab are afraid to leave their home. This is taking things completely out of context.
We're then told "Both [makeup and hijab] obscure, to varying degrees, a woman’s beauty. They hide her individuality away from the world." While this may be true of makeup, this is not true of hijab. This statement clearly comes from someone who has bought into the propaganda of Islam as an oppressor of women which is not true of Islam, but rather only a select few extremists who happen to also be Muslim.
And then there's this "Without their makeup women are vulnerable and their sense of self worth is much less." I don't know about any of you, but my sense of self-worth remains unchanged regardless of whether or not I'm wearing makeup, because I'm confident in who I am. Additionally, wearing hijab is the ultimate declaration of self-worth... see below for why.
Now that we know what hijab is NOT, let's talk about what it IS. Hijab is a symbol of modesty, chastity, and faith. It's a statement of how strong a woman is, how in control of herself she is. Perhaps the one point that the author did get right is that hijab is "A mask of beauty and perfection that we model to other women and to the world." Wearing hijab is standing as a model of righteousness for others.
This author clearly views makeup as something for the weak, something for people who have poor self-worth. By comparing something the author views so negatively to a religious symbol is offensive to those of that particular religion, and even to some of us outside that religion.
I can appreciate that the author is trying to challenge the western ideals of beauty and their unattainable standards. But in attempting to do so, she offended a lot of people. Had the question instead been "Is makeup a mask?" and not brought religion into the conversation, the article might have been more relevant and better received.
Photo by Herman Yahaya
is licensed under CC BY 2.0