Stretch Marks. Skin Discolouration. Eczema. Psoriasis. Spider Veins. These are a few of the many reasons that we have been encouraged to use body foundation and highlighter to obscure. The concept of body foundation and body highlighter, with the release of the KKW Beauty ‘Skin Perfecting Body Foundation’ and Patrick Ta’s ‘Major Glow Body Oil’, the debate surrounding skin ‘imperfections’ and whether we should hide them has arisen again. We all have this thing called free will, so whether you buy body makeup, apply it and remove it, is between you and your bank account. But, we must acknowledge the wider implications of what these products have the potential to do, which is the desire to create a skin in which we’re comfortable in, provided that it is rid of imperfections.
Nobody can seem to agree on where this lands in the feminist debate. Of course, many would argue that these body foundation and highlighters are anti-feminist, however, it would also be anti-feminist to judge someone for their choice to wear body make-up. The use of body make-up can boost your confidence, that’s a given. I have stretch marks just like all women. There are older women who have spider veins. There are young girls out there with scars. The use of body make-up in certain circumstances can be used to come to terms with those ‘imperfections’. I’m just saying, you can come to embrace your own skin, and still use body make-up for special occasions. No one is saying that you have to wear it all the time. I, myself, wear body shimmer oil when I go out for special events. It adds that extra sparkle to my outfit and accessories and I also place foundation on certain scars on my arms and legs because I don’t desire for everyone to see them. That’s my choice, not a necessity, it’s certainly not an item that I need in my life. It’s there to accentuate the body.
While it can help a woman reach self-confidence, the crux of the issue is obvious, instead of arguing about whether body make-up is oppressive for women, we need to argue why it is only really targeted at women. Apart from the occasional male make-up artist, the campaign consists entirely of women, which highlights further how our society’s beauty standards are continuously pushed by this pressure for perfection rather than self-enjoyment. This is how obscuring the body took over. Many, like Jameela Jamil who gave it a ‘hard pass’ on Twitter after KKW Beauty announced its Body Collection this summer, suggest that the body foundation and highlighters prevent people from embracing their own skin. When we are in a period where Savage X Fenty is becoming more popular than Victoria’s Secret for embracing body positivity and where ASOS depicts women with stretch marks and cellulite, how do we proceed when we are introduced to products that suggest we should become avatars of ourself that only highlight the best features and cover up the rest?
Even I can’t come up with a conclusion to this debate, both sides of the argument have valid cases to be made. Even with all the reforms these big brands are making to be more body positive, is it just futile, as we are only avoiding the demanding notion of constant perfection. When we live in a society that dictates normal is not okay, and we are fighting the system that has brought us to this point, how should we react when brands release products that continue to imply that we can create a ‘perfect’ version of normal? Body make-up can be empowering and help a person embrace and come to terms with their skin. Body make-up can also be repressive and sway a person to continue using foundation to hide their real skin. I guess the one thing that must be taken away from this is that female imperfection is still, for the most part, unacceptable and we are only allowed to be comfortable in our own skin provided that it’s ‘perfect’.