Are You "A Make-Up Kind Of Girl?"

Shane Watson of the London Times uses Sarah Palin's makeup as a jumping-off point to claim that "you either are or you aren't a make-up girl," a bit of armchair sociology that may hold a grain of truth.

Some of Watson's piece is needlessly insulting — she writes that if Palin were "to appear on television or in photographs wearing anything less than serious slap, she would look as if she had just emerged from a crack den (that's the way it goes, particularly if you're 45 and it's before midday)." Some of it just seems inaccurate:

Extreme Republican views, coyote-trimmed down jackets, guns in the glove compartment and plenty of good old-fashioned orange blusher go together like stars and stripes. If Palin were a natural kind of girl - slick of mascara for the school run, bit of tinted moisturiser and lippie for meetings - she'd be a Democrat.

But some of it is sort of interesting. Watson writes,

You either are or you aren't a make-up girl, pretty much from puberty, depending on what your friends are doing and who your role models are (and maybe how much your mother wears), and it is tribal. Right from the word go, girls fall into two camps, and we don't really mix, because the difference between the heavies and the make-up lites is about more than cash outlay, time spent in front of a mirror and whether you like eye shadow - it's a philosophy of life.

Now, I don't agree that "heavies" and "make-up lites" don't mix with one another, and I'm a little bit offended by the assertion that women like this divide because "it gives us an immediate and foolproof way of judging other women." But the simple assertion, "you either are or you aren't a make-up girl" may have some truth to it. I started wearing makeup around eighth grade, and for a short period, I went through a daily regimen of eyeshadow, mascara, and lip gloss. Thing is, I was really, really bad at it. My heavy purple eyeshadow looked like a bruise; my favorite lip gloss, if memory serves, was sort of a gross orange. I finally worked out that I looked like crap, and I retreated to the position I've held ever since: I wear lipstick, and leave it at that.

Part of my aversion to the wider world of makeup has to do with my increasingly sensitive skin (a swollen-shut eye: not hot), part of it has to do with money, but part of it is simply that makeup intimidates me. I don't "get it." Whenever I absolutely have to wear eye makeup (most recently, when I was a bridesmaid), I get someone else to do it. And I stand in awe of women who wear makeup effortlessly and wear it well.

I don't, as Watson implies, judge them — I'm more likely to be, um, jealous of their skills. But I have come to see my "make-up lite" approach as part of my personality. Maybe it's a holdover from my hardcore nerd days, back when I wore flannel — a sort of statement that even though I now care about clothes and fashion, part of my soul still has braces and watches Doctor Who. Or maybe it's the same slightly self-conscious low-maintenanceness that makes me sometimes brag about not owning a hair dryer — not, I recognize, an actual accomplishment. Whatever the case, my makeup habits are about more than a distaste for itchy eyelids, and I'm curious whether those on the other end of the spectrum — "make-up girls" as Watson rather infelicitously calls them, feel the same.

Sarah Palin: A Make-Up Kind Of Girl [TimesOnline]