04th Jul 2019
Kim Kardashian West has come under heavy criticism for her new body make-up, but Louise Bruton says using it to cover your skin or scars shouldn’t be scoffed at either
Some people think that the comfort I have in my own skin is a protest, a protest against the norm. I know this because I’ve been told that I’m an inspiration or that I’m so confident, as if those are things I shouldn’t be.
My legs don’t work, so I use a wheelchair, and my right leg is a prosthetic leg. Surgical scars decorate my body, the way a floral pattern does on your parents’ “for the good guests only” wedding china. Even if some of my scars are positively gnarly, they’re indentations of what I’ve been through and a reminder that from every difficult patch, life moves on.
Despite all that, I still wear shorts. Sometimes I even wear hot pants.
Despite the absence of a rock hard stomach, one that can’t be achieved due to the curve of my spine, I wear crop tops.
Despite my age, I wear pigtails.
Despite all of that I’m confident.
Despite, despite, despite.
Despite all that, I am not raging against the machine but I am doing what I want to do. Even if people think that there’s a bravery in highlighting the things I lack, (a right foot, for example) I’m not challenging the status quo because I’m happy with my body.
Body make-up that makes sense
In the same way that I don’t second guess wearing shorts, I don’t second guess wearing make-up and what that says about me or society. I was never really one to get overly excited about the release of new beauty products (mostly because I nurse a bottle of foundation for 18 months, wearing the same shade from winter into summer and back again).
But when I saw Kim Kardashian West’s new range of body make-up online, I thought: “Well, that makes sense to me.”
Due to an abhorrence to fake tan – thanks to years of staining from applying the cheapest brand of tan to my sister’s back in the early noughties – this temporary boost of colour appeals to me.
Related: The KKW Beauty body foundation… Would you be bothered?
As part and parcel of my disability, my circulation operates on a work to rule basis, which means that if I’m tired or cold, my left leg runs purple when the rest of my body – excluding the matte black finish on my prosthesis – is a blotchy combination of pink and white.
My legs have been through the mill but I love them. I could write a sonnet about my knees and the delicious shade of tan they acquire in the sun and I love the many squiggles of scars which show just how far medicine has come. Each one of them, from deep-rooted scars obtained from lengthening one femur in 1994 to the laser fine lines that mended a break in 2013.
This rumble tumble attitude I have towards my legs, one of an overgrown child who’s permanently at summer camp with scratches, scars and various stages of stubble following no particular pattern, is fine for the daytime or last-minute night out. However, when I want to lift myself out of the ordinary and feel glam, I can understand the need for 1) a non-slip razor and 2) body make-up.
Unfortunately, and I say this every inch of weariness in my body, Jameela Jamil has taken a “hard pass” on this new product. She’d rather “make peace with my million stretch marks and eczema,” according to a tweet, as if we only have two options in this scenario.
Hard pass. God damn the work to take it all off before bed so it doesn’t destroy your sheets… I’d rather just make peace with my million stretch marks and eczema. Taking off my mascara is enough of a pain in the arse. Save money and time and give yourself a damn break. ?? https://twitter.com/kimkardashian/status/1141889108563726336
— Jameela Jamil ? (@jameelajamil) June 24, 2019
Either you wear the make-up and you’re compliant or you choose not to and protest.
But what if you’re not doing either of those things?
This mentality treats wearing make-up as a crime and, as punishment, sees people handing in their feminist’s badge and leaving the force.
Wearing make-up on your face or on your legs or your arms or the small of your back doesn’t mean that you’re handing your free will over to the evil CEOs of the beauty industry or to the Kardashians. You’re handing your money over, yes, but you’re not giving up on your individuality.
Of course, I understand that leg make-up can be seen as just another thing in the long list of things that we’ve to apply before we’re deemed fit for public consumption, but to bracket every single human into this category is short-sighted.
Conforming to society’s standards?
In the same way that drawing a cat eye in eyeliner doesn’t mean you want to be a cat (although, they have a very cushy number), wearing make-up doesn’t directly translate into conforming to society’s standards.
If you live with a disability, a debilitating illness or – God forbid – are over the age of 30, ordinary things like showing flesh are treated as a protest. When, really, the greatest protest would be to do these things without figuring out what that represents.
My scars and my weak circulation are things that I have made peace with, but for the days where I want to wear a skirt with a slit, I’ve got a choice in whether I let that purple show or not.
Wearing make-up on your face or on your legs or your arms or the small of your back doesn’t mean that you’re handing your free will over to the evil CEOs of the beauty industry. Or to the Kardashians, for that matter.
You’re handing your money over, yes, but you’re not giving up on your individuality.
If wearing make-up on your legs means wearing the shortest pair of shorts you own, do it.
Do it because it makes you happy in your own skin and not because it’s a protest.
Read more: There is nothing more radical than liking your own body
Read more: ‘A wheelchair gave me physical freedom, but my third lease of life comes from buying tickets for one’
Read more: Accepting my disability and accepting being disabled
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