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Image / Beauty

Louise O’Neill On The Expressive Power Of Makeup

by Ellie Balfe
25th Nov 2016

You may have seen the extremely excellent ad for the Boots No7 Match Made campaign featuring the renowned (and also excellent) feminist and author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We have loved it from first watch, as it articulates so well the fact that makeup is not something that defines you in any way. It is purely something to choose to wear (or not), should you feel you want to.

And most of us want to.

To us, makeup can be an act of supreme self- care; it can be a preparation for facing the day and it can help us to feel empowered, after all, when you feel you look well, there is an undeniable spring in one’s step, right?

Makeup should not be something that is open to comment on by other people, for us it is filed under ?personal choice?, being something we choose to do for ourselves. We are much more than the sum of our makeup bag – we have bigger, more important things to say and do in this world – particularly these days. So that’s why, when we find a range that matches us exactly, not only our complexion, but in how we think and feel, we’re sold.

Inspired by Chimamanda’s eloquence, we spoke to one of our own Irish leading feminist authors, Louise O?Neill, to explore her relationship with makeup and it’s synergy with feminism.

What does makeup mean to you?

My relationship with makeup has gone through different stages through the years. As a child, makeup was used for costume, to dress up, to transform into witches and angels and ghosts and monsters. As a teenager, I used makeup as a mask, as a way of hiding what I saw as my flaws. In my late twenties and into my early thirties, I can see my attitude towards makeup changing once again. It has become something I have fun with, something I use to enhance my features rather than disguise them. It is a way of expressing myself and my sense of creativity.


Do you relate to a makeup routine as an act of empowerment?

I don’t believe women need makeup to be empowered. True empowerment comes from within, it comes from a place that is utterly steady and immutable, and it is not dependent on how you look. However, I enjoy makeup immensely and it does give me a sense of confidence. If I have to go on television or have my photo taken, I feel more relaxed if I’m happy with how my makeup looks. It’s like an extra suit of armour as I go into battle! That’s a very personal preference, though – I don’t think women should feel compelled to wear makeup if they don’t want to.

We love the phrase, ‘small acts of feminism’, what way do you think we can engage with feminism in our daily lives??

I think the greatest act of feminism women can undertake on a daily basis is to make the decision to love themselves. All too often our society makes women doubt themselves or tries to make us feel insecure and unsure. To reject that and to decide to love yourself just as you are is an act of revolution for any women.


With the world feeling a little crazy state right now, what would be your advice for women to find solace, solidarity and strength? To put their best face forward, as it were?

The world does feel like a frightening place right now, particularly for women, minorities, the LGBT community, and differently abled people. I would advise young women to refuse to give up hope and to keep fighting. I’ve come to realise that the world has been designed to promote and protect white, straight, cis-gender, able-bodied men and no matter how hard the rest of us try to mould ourselves to fit that ‘standard’, it’s not possible. We need to find our own way, form our own communities and networks, create our own covens. We are many and we are powerful. Believe in yourself, speak your truth, and find your tribe. Everything else will fall into place.

See? more

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