A Note on Internet Crusaders Against Beauty

8 months ago by in Columns

A Note on Internet Crusaders Against Beauty

My online experiences of the last week or so have reminded me, again, of how scathing many people can be about the notion of even the mildest vanity. It’s something I struggle with – not because I feel at all conflicted about my interest in aesthetics, make-up, hair, skin and so on – but because it’s hard to accept that people get so readily behind what are such ignorant female stereotypes. If you judge me for wanting my skin to look healthy and clear, for enjoying the rituals and creativity of make-up, for taking pride in looking my best then I’m afraid I judge you. I don’t care if you don’t wear make-up – I often don’t myself. Choice is key. And I certainly don’t care if you’re a man who prefers “the natural look”. The personal preferences of men I don’t know, who lack even basic manners in their dealings with others, are of absolutely no consequence to me and my face. I actually think it a great arrogance to be so prescriptive about how any woman should look – bare faced or made up, thin or fat, black or white. The common assertion that “beautiful women don’t need make-up” suggests to me a belief that those born beautiful are somehow superior to those of us who enhance what we have artificially. One could easily argue that this belief suggests a more worrying superficiality of character than can ever be directed at a woman who simply loves make-up.

 

On a deeper and more concerning level, the aggression directed at women who love beauty, or who happily spend £30 of their own, hard-earned money on a luxury serum, or who simply read a beauty column as they flick through the paper, suggests widespread misogyny. Such disapproval has much less to do with lipstick than with a deep seated scorn for women generally. I doubt any man has ever been approached at a rugby match or wine tasting, by a stranger demanding to know why the cost of his ticket hasn’t been donated to Amnesty International instead of squandered on his own silly whims. But a woman indulging her passion for fashion or beauty is seen to be acting selfishly, foolishly, even immorally. Because classically female pursuits (and I say this in the absolute knowledge that women enthusiastically attend rugby matches, wine tastings, the races and a host of other events commonly considered to be ‘male’), are considered daft purely because women are unfairly defined by their hobbies in the way men never are. A woman who likes nice moisturiser can’t possibly have any awareness of important world issues, nor any capacity for charity, nor any real sense of perspective because our limited intellectual resources are all tied up with self-indulgence and mirror gazing. A passion for surface clearly demonstrates a lack of depth.

 

Of course, anyone with an IQ in the triple digits knows that people – in this case, women – aren’t wired this way. I am frankly embarrassed for anyone prepared to share publicly such a wholly stupid point of view. Reading Vogue doesn’t make me unaware of everything beyond its pages, ignorant to the fact that the NHS is in serious danger, that over 90% of Guantanamo prisoners are being detained despite having been proven innocent in a court of law, that every week, two British women are killed by their current or ex partner. I know all of this, as I expect you do too. I vote, I support charities (including regular donations of beauty products to kids who don’t even have soap to wash their faces for school), I comment on current affairs on national news, I read voraciously, I attend events where I can learn more, and try to bring up my children to be kind and upstanding people. So now perhaps you could tell me what exactly, while you’re not spending your weekends berating women for wearing posh mascara as they live their diverse, well rounded and decent lives, are you doing that is so, so much better?

 

Sali Hughes

Sali Hughes is a writer, broadcaster and Editor of salihughesbeauty.com.

  • Published: 106 posts
  • Debra Brock

    Yes, this. A thousand times this. I am simply astonished, every single Saturday.

  • Nic

    This deserves a massive round of applause.

  • Beanie O’D

    YES, YES, YES!

  • Kath GTL

    Their comments are always so mind numbingly predictable too. I also can’t bear the martyrs who claim to have the skin of a 5 year old due to their regime of exfoliating with an old brillo pad and some WD40. Carry on, if that makes you happy. It doesn’t make you superior.

    • Kath GTL

      I didn’t mean to like my own post. #wangcentral

      • Nic

        You so did. Don’t kid a kidder love!

    • Jo Wolfie

      I especially love the family members and select friends who like to tell me about someone they know who has ah-mazing skin and only uses soap/washing up liquid/ turps and vaseline/ lard/ sunflower oil. I always think they can’t love me very much as if I followed this advice my face would fall off.

      • NancyGateaux

        Haha, yes, an acquaintance with lovely clear skin told me she’s only ever used plain water to wash with, the implication being if I stopped messing around with fancy cleansers I’d have skin like that too. Er, no.

      • Ida

        My mother DOES use hand soap and body lotion on her face, loves a tan, AND has amazing, virtually wrinkle-free skin at 61. Cow. Doesn’t mean *I* can’t enjoy all the lotions and potions, though.

    • The Heronwife

      Honestly the people I know who say this actually have shit skin. I wouldn’t say so to them, because I am polite, but its usually a bit dull and not as plump as it could be if, for example, they put some proper skincare on it.

      • The Heronwife

        And no, I don’t judge you for not bothering with it – however I judge you for wanging on about it and acting like everyone else is stupid.

  • pfrankie

    Well said, Sali!

  • Fi Nightingale

    It boils my fucking piss. Week in, week out, these utter morons take time out of their day specifically to read a column which they already hate. I also hate it when they moan about the price of things, as if every beauty product should be a £4.99 Superdrug special. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY THEM, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY DON’T EXIST. *kicks cat*

    • Elaine Wilder

      I did that before, Liked my own comment about 7 times. I DID like it though, so….

      • Kathryn Cicero

        I mean, just LOOK at these comments! You ladies ROCK! You are making me guffaw and that’s great – AND YOU LIKE MAKEUP! A. MAZE. BALLS.

    • Andrew Ryan

      I like my own posts all the time. Most of my posts are proper boss.

      • Fi Nightingale

        Haha. Mine are proper toss.

  • Ida

    I couldn’t agree more. Such a smug, condescending, simplistic view. We’re not one-trick ponies. Well said.

  • Jo Wolfie

    YES! *applauds*

  • November Juliet

    Bloody LOVE this!!!

  • Mardi

    I am utterly astounded that anyone would bother to read a column about subject in which they are not interested and then have the gall to comment aggressively. Life is too short for this sort of behaviour and I definitely agree that it says far more about the commenter than the column. There’s a saying “What Susie says about Sally says far more about Susie than Sally”.

    • Fi Nightingale

      It’s madness. It’s like me reading a piece about cars, then being outraged that men have the gall to be driving one and stamping my feet because I can’t afford the Lamborghini that’s pictured. Dicks.

      • Beklet

        God gave you feet, you should be ashamed to be driving anywhere. My feet look ten years younger because I always walk.

      • Julie Carlisle

        Whoops I do that. But mainly in my head

      • &mpersand

        Come to think of it, I do have that precise reaction when watching Top Gear.
        Which in itself begs a whole load of questions, to which the least feeble answer is “I have a teenage son”.

    • Sali Hughes

      IT’S SALI

    • Sali Hughes

      (Joke)

  • wine&crisps&writing

    Well said Sali!

  • pufford

    At the risk of sounding boring…hell yes, what everyone else has said. Don’t even get me started on someone telling me that ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ was pointless and a distraction from ‘proper medical treatments’…aaaaaaaaaaaaah.

    • Debra Brock

      Ugh. What a thing to say. LGFB makes such a difference to people.

      • pufford

        I know… And the worrying thing, this was from a doctor. Gah. On the plus side, I will never forget how good it felt showing a lady in her fifties, going through chemo, how to use an Anastasia pencil to sketch her brows back on. She was quite literally overjoyed. Never really used make up in her life and probably never will, but that eyebrow pencil made her feel like she could leave the house and walk to the shops for the first time in a month.

    • pfrankie

      Couldn’t agree more! Since finding Sali and SHB I am taking much better care of myself and I truly believe that this has changed my outlook on life and my illness. As a result, my quality of life has improved dramatically.

  • Alkistis

    I couldn’t love this any more. Sali, you’ve said what I have been thinking all week, but 100 times more eloquently.

  • Ciara

    Sing it! So much this.

  • Siobhan

    Amen.

  • Floopy

    Yes, yes, yes, fucking YES! Nailed it.

  • J

    CAN I GET AN AMEN!!!
    Eloquent as usual Sali. Thanks!

  • Lou-Lou

    “A woman who likes nice moisturiser can’t possibly have any awareness of important world issues, nor any capacity for charity, nor any real sense of perspective, because our limited intellectual resources are all tied up with self-indulgence and mirror gazing” Brilliant.

    The fact is, in my experience, I find women who are willing to spend a little more on their beauty products have spent time researching them, they know where they came from, generally buy things which are ethically sourced, non-animal tested and all the other things which go along with buying quality merchandise. This awareness invariably spreads into other areas of their lives.

  • Carolyn Carter-Cash

    Anyone else hoping that one of them dares to come on here, just for the sport?

    • KateAlex

      Ha ha, exactly why I was reading the comments!

  • Elaine Wilder

    I am gutted that you even had to write this. Can never get my head around why people behalf in this way online or face to face. MANNERS, PEOPLE.

  • KatInEurope

    A £30 serum would buy 11 minutes and 4 seconds in a Cat B seat of England vs. Australia at Rugby World Cup 2015.
    (Obviously I am monied and silly enough to probably buy both, but I also happen to have been not silly enough to have gained an education and thus earned the money to do so. The serum will have more VFM, the tickets have been priced outrageously. Yes, I can talk about rugby all day, but heck, I did play touch for years. All that time outdoors means I need all the products I can get. Ha.)

  • Nicola Rossall

    THIS! It’s so condescending. I get it in real life too which boils my piss even more.

    It’s akin to the ‘why do you go to the gym when you can run outside for free?’. I don’t like running and I don’t like being outside in the cold and dark in the middle of winter. Again, absolutely none of your business.

    Rant over, I’m sure the people who do this have sad little lives anyway

  • Alison MacPherson

    Bra-fucking-vo! Well said.

  • WitWoo

    *nailed it*

  • Lisette

    the fearful women-loathing comments every week on your column make me sick with rage – it’s an assault and a pathetic attempt to control and dominate. Excellent piece, Sali but I’m sorry you had to write it. I always admire your calm and dignified responses to those people, it’s far better than they deserve.

  • Pippi L. Stocking

    Before I began to read the column I never knew that such behaviour went on below the line (how naive). Sure I knew that YouTube and Facebook drew out the slugs and their trolling ways but in the Guardian, for a beauty column. Really? Every week I am left open-mouthed at the spite and vitriol that is directed at Sali and women who dare to confess to being interested and like to buy make-up. It’s like going back to Victorian times and being thought of as being whores for wearing blusher. How bloody dare we? Well, I for one don’t give a flying fuck if any man prefers women without make-up. So what? Good. Move on. And I don’t think there is any known link between cosmetics and charity. I trust that all these saintly people give all of their disposable income to charity, never spending a penny on anything remotely frivolous like a new car, alcohol, chocolate

  • Jo Wolfie

    I once tried to write an article about why it’s ok to care about beauty and it was nowhere near as eloquent and well-argued as this piece. But there was one paragraph which always springs to my mind when trolls yap on about how skincare and makeup is indicative of self-obsessed vanity and so I’m going to repeat it here if that’s ok: I once helped an impoverished woman escape her violent husband. She left her marital home with nothing and in the refuge we gave her money for a new SIM card and basic supplies. The first thing she asked her friend to buy her was a tub of her favourite face cream. She may have felt powerless, humiliated and afraid, but she grasped at a feeling of self-worth. To my mind, that face cream demonstrated that she still believed she was worth taking care of, even after those who supposedly loved her treated her as if she wasn’t.

    • Fi Nightingale

      I totally get this. As Liz Taylor said “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together”. It’s claiming back the tiniest piece of what makes you yourself, when everything seems like it’s turned to shit.

    • Eira IR

      My mum told me a story that when Swedish nurses rescued women from concentration camps after World War Two, they also received packages of basic hygiene and beauty stuff, including lipstick. Some may argue that the lipsticks were frivolous and silly, but the women loved putting it on and looking pretty even though they were starved and beaten down. I think many people overlook, just as you say, the feeling of self-worth beauty products can give.

      • Sali Hughes

        Yes, have posted the full story of this before. It’s tear jerking.

  • Efrem Zimbalist

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA – MEN!

  • The Heronwife

    yep. Women don’t go to the mens football team pages and say how stupid they are. (I don’t think they are, actually, but certainly not my interest). some men have a hard time accepting that every single thing in the universe is not aimed at them – probably because so much of our media – films, adverts etc – pander to men. I was horrified and angry at the comments, Sali, but I am not brave enough to comment somewhere with so little moderation. I also think that given the greater harassment of women online the fact that you write about traditionally female thing and are a women that having so little support may be against equal rights laws since it is clearly a gendered problem.

    • The Heronwife

      I upvoted myself too. I am so ashamed. ONE OF THESE UPVOTES IS A FRAUD…Its probably because I am so shallow down to my liking makeup…

  • jen pobble

    Yes!

  • Fi Nightingale

    I also feel I have to add that it isn’t always men who do this. I’ve seen plenty of women slag other commenters off for being so shallow and vain that they feel the need to wear make up. Feels worse coming from a woman, for me.

    • Cassandra

      Yes. I once listened to a Woman’s Hour show in which they discussed the rise of the Youtube celebrities. The presenter (with a mild sneer) asked one of her guests if she was disappointed about the fact most of the girls/women on YouTube spent their time talking about make up. If the top male You Tube celebrities spent their time talking about world politics, socio-economics or climate change she MIGHT (but not really) have a point, but they don’t. They just tell jokes, share anecdotes and conduct tours of their bedrooms. These are no less shallow than talking about makeup- the only difference is that makeup is traditionally looked at as a woman’s pursuit and we all know how silly and frivolous our pursuits are compared to really deep and profound traditionally non-female pursuits such as kicking a ball around a field and watching people drive their cars really fast around a track over and over again.

  • Evelyn King

    Amen!

  • Joe Normal

    Women who NEVER wear make up and comment on the beauty column scare me a little. Do they not wear it because they’re not allowed, and live vicariously through the column? And the ones who wash with only water and the milk of the goat in their back yard which results in beautiful skin and looking 20 years younger – why read the column then? If your skin looks THAT good, what could you possibly get from an online beauty column? The chance to vent at people who have the intelligence to make choices about what to apply to their face and body to feel good (and are far prettier than you maybe)? Get a life dickheads.

  • mofgimmers

    As a man who likes sports, I find that I do get hauled over the coals about spending my money on football matches/magazines by exactly the same braying dunderheads who get sniffy about a woman spending her money on make-up or issues of Harper’s Bazaar.

    What I find most peculiar is that anyone would pass judgement on how anyone looks, like it’s in any way helpful. “You’re going bald mate!”, “You’ve put a bit of weight on!”, “You’re looking a bit orange!”, “Look at those eyebrows!” (ad nauseum). I just wonder what anyone thinks they’ll actually gain from critiquing the appearance of another human to their face. Advice is one thing (‘try my lipstick – I think you’ll look ace with it on’) is one thing, sneering is completely another.

    There’s a percentage of people who go on like Viz’s ‘Modern Parents’ who don’t like anything popular, anyone being a bit vain and where they once said “Oh, I don’t actually own a television”, they now proudly proclaim that they’re not on Facebook or Twitter.

    To cut a longwinded and rambly point short, I refer to a piece of advice my great-grandmother gave to me hours before she died: “F*** ‘em.”

    • The Heronwife

      ah, apologies, I made the point that men go on less about sport, but apparently they are totally joyless wankers and hate everything. Carry on.

      • Fi Nightingale

        Sorry, are you a man?? Or a typo maker? haha.

        • The Heronwife

          Queen of typos.

          • Fi Nightingale

            haha. no it’s the site going mad at my end. I just had to check your avatar in case I’d missed something. #autumnleaves

    • Beklet

      I’m a woman who sees a lot of live rugby matches and live music. I never get comments about how much I spend on rugby. I frequently get comments on how much I spend on music gigs, clothes, make up and individual items of food.

    • Alyson

      Love this.

    • Anna Leuty

      I’m not on Facebook, or Twitter, because I don’t want to be and I don’t have the time. This does not make me a bad person!
      I’m also someone who thinks that moisturiser (with SPF) is a necessity, not a luxury! And mascara…. and …. You buy your football tickets, I’ll read Sali’s columns and dream about the next little non-fattening treat for me.

    • Anon

      As a woman whose only regular beauty regime is soap and water I find it sad that so many women feel the need to use cosmetics to enhance themselves. It truly does show what a wonderfully thorough job the cosmetic and beauty industry has done to women’s basic self confidence that applying their products is deemed necessary to feel good.

  • Milly Molly Mandy

    Well said, I have stopped reading most comments on articles etc. as some people are just pure horrible, people who I dont believe even read an article, start commenting about using Sunlight soap on their skin and people always tell them how amazing their skin is.. and it only costs 10p – piss off. Even yesterday there was a missing person appeal on facebook and people are commenting horrible things that most likely they are on a drinking session or want to get away from their wife.. SERIOUSLY who are these people

  • Ronnie Barko

    Nice column and I am very much cheering you on, but can you maybe remove the part about IQ? People with intellectual disabilities are actually often the least judgemental people you will ever meet and besides, the very notion of IQs is well dodgy science. Otherwise *thumbs up*

  • Beth Anderson

    Oh Christ, 100 times this. I shouldn’t have to say “I want to be a make-up artist” *looks at man’s face* … “but I am intelligent, honestly! TEST ME, I am!”

    They wouldn’t offer the same facial expression and prejudice towards somebody saying they wanted to be an artist, but to me they’re the same thing. It isn’t a ‘cute little hobby’ to keep my creative side occupied. The amount of times I’ve blocked idiots on Twitter who reply to my feminist posts with “But, huh, you SAID you wanted to do make-up. I think you’ll find there’s a conflict there.” JUST STOP.

    • Lauren Oakey

      I don’t know how I manage to go about my day without hurting myself considering I have so much silly make-up in my head.

  • http://rhodri.biz Rhodri Marsden

    The Guardian should have run this, tbh.

    Maybe they could set up some automatic system where the above blog post is automatically posted as a reply to anyone who behaves like a dick in the comments section under your columns.

  • LauraP

    Well said, Sali. I am so thrilled you have written this. I agree with every single word. Thank you.

  • Sarah

    This is so great

  • Annelie

    *stands up, applauds* Well said, Sali!

  • Natalie Kate M

    *THUMBS*

  • http://xstaedtler.wordpress.com/ Staedtler

    It’s envy, you see, because we’re not allowed to wear any make up.

    • Fi Nightingale

      Anyone can wear make up. And they don’t need permission.

  • northernreader

    Thank you.
    I’m overcoming issues with my own self belief and self worth and this is
    helpful. I was raised by a Buddhist and went to Catholic school, and at home
    and school was called superficial, stupid, and vain. My mother was ill, but
    what was the school’s excuse? I had severe eczema, and wanting to fix it seemed
    to be thinking myself some sort of special case, to be self indulgent. I have
    really low self esteem now, to the point where I would self harm if I splurged
    on something to take care of my skin as recently as last year. I wept when I
    allowed myself to do a proper blow dry for the first time. I’m now learning
    that my skin means I do have to spend more on myself, and that’s okay. I’m
    learning that I can look at myself in the mirror for more than a fleeting
    moment. I’m learning that it’s okay to take pride in how I look, to make time
    to take care of myself. I’ll still have a masters, I’ll still be good at my
    job, I’ll still be a loving partner and pet owner and friend, I’ll still be
    switched on socially and politically. I am worth investing in, I am not
    selfish. It’s taking time, but I’m getting there. And these commenters I
    regularly see on your articles do get to me sometimes, but seeing you write
    this is a relief, a release, of the tension I’ve been carrying when I read your
    blog, or watch YouTube videos, or browse beauty stores. Thank you.

    • Fi Nightingale

      It’s totally okay for you to take pride in your appearance and look after your skin. It doesn’t make you vain, it just makes you a normal human being. x

  • Sabine

    It’s not only the Beauty section that suffers from these patronising twats. The comments on the Restaurant and Food articles are just as bad. A curry for £20? You London lefty elite should be burned on a tandoori. Here in Ignoramusinthesticks you can feed a whole family for £2 and it’s better too.

  • Lauren Oakey

    NAILED IT

  • Pastiche

    Well put, Sali, and absolutely right. But it’s astonishing (and depressing) that it’s necessary to say any of this at all. It always utterly baffles me when I read through the comments following your Saturday column and come accross these types of dim-witted insults. What kind of idiot has so much time to waste, and so little imagination about how to waste it, that they trawl the internet looking for things they think are a waste of time – and then waste even more of their time by posting comments! Crazy.

    I also agree that it’s a manifestation of misogyny, which is an even more important reason why we should make a stand against it. Because skincare and makeup tend to be female interests, they are used as a way of trying to demean women – often there’s the feeling of ‘damned if we do and damned if we don’t’ from this type of person, when it comes to wearing makeup, for example.

    Incidentally, I have known many men who claim to prefer women with a ‘natural look’. However, I’ve found that some of these men can be rather poor at noticing when a woman is wearing makeup anyway, unless it’s really obvious (when I was much younger, a boyfriend expressed surprise when I mentioned a powder compact I needed to buy. He said, “but you don’t wear makeup!” having failed to notice that I’d worn it probably every day of the 2 years we’d been together! I did favour a very low key and natural look, but still…).

    There are philosophical (and political and psychological and sociological) issues entangled with the use of beauty products, of course, just as there are with many other activities and behaviours. But these moronic commenters don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand and engage with these issues, which are interesting and worthy of discussion, and which the intended audience of the column are fully capable of considering if and when they wish – when we’re thinking about the efficacy of a facial sunscreen or the longevity of a mascara, for example, these issues are not relevant.

    And when it comes to having a go at women for spending £30 on a serum rather than donating it to charity… this is just the most ridiculous attempt at an insult. As we all know, any type of product is sold at different price points and different levels of luxury to appeal to different consumers. Should we all buy nothing but the cheapest of the cheap necessities and donate the rest of our money to charity? Maybe, but that isn’t what these commenters are really arguing (and we can be sure they don’t do that themselves). It’s just another way of trying to belittle women by these sexist dimwits.

    Rant over! It’s just so hard to understand where these people are coming from, how they can be so stupid and why they feel the need to be so unpleasant. It makes me cross.

  • Lisa Targett

    Outstandingly well-written.

  • Joey

    What have men done to deserve this? Most men I know follow sport (in particular football, rugby, tennis) and the like with an awareness that their passion for it is a personal and therapeutic one, as is your interest in your own beautifying regime. Of course I know that playing for my Sunday league team is silly and pointless, in the grand scheme of things, as do all my team. But the pleasure I take in that is the same as my girlfriend does in singing in musicals, dancing at cheesy clubs to easily-palatable music or just dressing up to stay in with her friends. I am aware that they are gender clichés, but we’re real people and that happens to be what we like.

    What’s stupid about any of that?

    I am basically agreeing with you on almost all points, and I happen to believe that making yourself and those around you happy is the first step to making any positive change… but misogyny? You’re having a laugh, babe (har har har).

    • Fi Nightingale

      It’s not ‘men’, per se, it’s the men (and women) who post their vitriol in the comments. Clearly. I feel sorry for them, mostly.

    • Sali Hughes

      Nowhere do I mock male pursuits at all. I’m saying men are not defined by them in the way women are. It’s a hard point to misunderstand.

      • Joey

        Sorry, I wasn’t being clear. We are, by lots of people. There are so many clichés about men wasting time watching Match of the Day or trying to get out of social situations to catch the score… and people all take the piss out of them. We laugh about it, too.

        People wind everyone up about their personal pursuits, male and female, but also are aware that they are an important part of making everyone who they are.

        • The Heronwife

          Friends taking the piss is different from a bunch of strangers calling you shallow and stupid.

          And ignoring the history of beauty and make and women is an odd choice. We know that women are judged disproportionally on their appearance. So the topic has a lot more hot button issues than football.

          • Joey

            Too true.

        • Sali Hughes

          See my response to similar comment.

    • Beklet

      Why does this happen? A woman makes a comment about the men who troll a newspaper column and then a man gets offended, because the woman has now just disparaged ALL men.

      No she didn’t, and the derailment to suggest she did is boring, repetitive and detracts from the fact that women get abused horrendously online all the time. Why don’t you instead post something to the trolls when you see it and ask them “what did women do to deserve this ” because frankly, it would be a lot more helpful in making the internet a nicer place for everyone.

      • Joey

        I agreed with the whole article bar one point

        “unfairly defined by their hobbies the way men never are.”

        I get taken the piss out of all the time for playing sport when I look like I should be playing kiss-chase at the YMCA, so I wanted to speak my mind on that subject. Just as I would, probably more vehemently, when I read a post where the comments trolled women in general.

        • Sali Hughes

          People may take the piss out if your hobbies but are you defined by it? Do people perceive you to be so wholly devoted to it that your brain can process nothing further, that your hobby is to the exclusion of anything more important? Because I get that constantly.

  • Riri Rochelle

    Hear, hear! Especially the ‘female pursuits’ bit – I’m always shocked at how much traditionally ‘male’ pursuits e.g. gaming, football matches cost but that never seems to face the same amount of criticism.

    • Chris

      You are kidding? Gaming gets massive criticism, to the extent that whilst it’s my main hobby I’ve learned to avoid mentioning it except amongst gamers! Being considered a gamer is a massive drag on employment and promotion prospects. (Not to mention unpopular with parents)
      I personally hate the sniping trolling rubbish that appears on so many websites and comment sections, and indeed in real life. I’ve not read them on this particular site (which I found linked on Twitter), but in real life I hear far more criticism of women’s style or appearance by women than men. I agree with much of the blog, but suspect it’d be improved by complaining about trolling people rather than trolling men. I wish there were not so many people holding back the principle of being happy with yourself. I guess it’s just bad for business and people want to sell solutions.

      • Jo Wolfie

        But nowhere in the article – if I’ve read it correctly – does Sali say that the trolls in question are specifically men. We know that they are often women too. This is not a men v women article. What she does argue is that generally speaking most hobbies and interests that are traditionally deemed ‘masculine’, do not attract the same kind of offensive bullshit that women who spend a bit of money on lipstick/ face cream get.

  • Badgirl

    Brilliant article. It’s very sad it needed saying – but it did!

  • Jamie

    Brilliant post Sali. The section about asking men at a Rugby match the same question, is genius!

  • alex monteny

    I would write an interesting comment, were it not for the fact that I don’t have time because I have to stare in the mirror all day.

    Oh, and the deleted guy who was angry because Sali called herself a nerd, but has no right to do that because she does not write about the cosmos and was never bullied. Hilarious, deluded, but mostly very very sad. Who died and made him King of Nerds, As a nerd, I was very upset about that.

  • Jo Adams

    LOVE IT. You can just link to this article in future now instead of having to engage in this condescending, puerile bullshit all the time. It must be so depressing, it’s depressing enough to read let alone it being comment on something I’d written. People need to get some perspective or something better to do with their time.

  • betsymartian

    Excellent piece, of course. It is surprising that people subject themselves to things of which they so wholeheartedly disapprove, but perhaps it’s a new version of a cardio workout. I sometimes wonder whether I’m also expected to spend my Advantage Card points on Swarfega*.

    *Chance’d be a fine thing, I’d never buy handwash again.

  • Devon Clark

    I enjoy a walk around Sephora, my husband enjoys a walk around the golf course. I could NEVER be bothered to buy a second tier cable package, and some people couldn’t be bothered to buy a high end lipstick. I love a country where we get to be different and revel in the choices that are in front of us. I would never berate anyone for buying a Piretti Putter, so give my Chanel the same respect. Fuckers.

    • Fi Nightingale

      Is it picking your ass, love?

      • Devon Clark

        ASS OFFICIALLY PICKED. Probably should’ve mentioned that.

  • numpty

    Caveat: I’m “one of those men” who doesn’t find your average eye shadow and lipstick look particularly attractive on a superficial level, but hey, that’s just the way it goes — we all like different things. I have no problem with (and it would be too bad if I did) a woman wanting to wear makeup if it makes her feel better, while regretting the fact that we live in a society where a woman might actually be made to feel worse about herself if she fails to look her best on any given occasion in the first place.

    I am, however, highly alarmed by the utter pseudo-scientific garbage spouted by cosmetics companies in advertisements, and the number of women who apparently believe some of it and are conned into parting with ridiculous amounts of money for something that does nothing more than a 2 quid tube of Superdrug’s own-brand equivalent. I know they’re all oh-so-carefully worded to avoid falling foul of advertising regulations about false claims, but it’s getting to the stage where I almost wish cosmetics advertising was banned on TV.

    • Fi Nightingale

      The thing is, men and women are perfectly entitled to say they prefer the natural look, if that is their preference, just as I prefer most men with beards. That’s totally fine. It ceases to be fine when those people expect women to fall in line and wipe their make up off. And as for advertising, if someone’s going to spend fifty quid on a face cream, I’d expect them to be doing their homework before parting with their cash.

      • Lemonysnicket

        AGREE! If someone is going to spend a few hundred quid on a flat screen TV I would expect them to do their homework, and I don’t assume that they would just be taken in by some fancy advert (man or woman). I don’t really like the hand-wringing of ‘oh the poor stupid women that can’t tell the difference between advertising and reality’ of the OP.

      • numpty

        I’d hope they would too, but I could give you a list of half a dozen personal acquaintances right now — men AND women, it must be said — who’ll happily just buy the most expensive product because “it must be better”.

        • Fi Nightingale

          I think that’s the same with lots of things in life, though. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. If you want nice food then it’s going to cost more than Tesco Value food does. Face creams which actually do more than just moisturise need to have scientists and labs behind them. And all of that needs paying for, hence the high price. But nobody is forced to buy anything at face value, just that some people choose to.

      • Abi

        Plenty of people make this claim, but I often wonder how many men in particular really DO prefer the ‘natural look’ or would even recognise it when they saw it. What they might believe to be ‘no makeup’ most probably involves some foundation, lightweight mascara and some sort of hair treatment/styling at the very least…

    • Bee

      Why don’t you join the forum, speak to the posters and see how critically-minded they are when it comes to claims made by certain companies? And if they choose to spend ridiculous amounts of money, it’s not your money and it’s not hurting you, is it?

      • numpty

        Because that’s unlikely to make much difference. The vast majority of the general public aren’t the type of people to be joining internet forums and critically analysing claims every time they want to buy something, and the people I encountered if I joined such a forum would be the rather like-minded minority, as they are on the many other internet forums of which I’m a member.

        “It’s not hurting you” is a bit of a non sequitur. I don’t only care about things that bother me if they’re directly hurting me, and I’m sure you don’t either.

        • Bee

          You don’t know until you try, you’re just basing that on judgements and assumptions you’ve made up in your own mind.

          I had an old boyfriend who would drive me up the wall with his car. He’d spend hours on the internet researching the best types of windscreen washer etc etc. but I wouldn’t say anything about it, because it was his business what he spent his money on, it had nothing to do with me and to this day, I’ve never taken to the internet to voice my concern about it on Audi forums etc. Others do, and it makes me wonder why.

    • Beklet

      Some of the worse pseudo-science is on yoghurt adverts, does it worry you that women folk believe those as well? Buying a yoghurt everyday soon adds up to a lot more than a thirty quid jar of cream that lasts me 4 months. Do you perhaps see why I find your concern a little patronising?

    • Sali Hughes

      Me too re cod science. But I don’t conflate a love of beauty with wholesale approval of the beauty industry. I adore cooking – it doesn’t mean I think the food industry is ethical. Beauty and its industry are not the same thing.

    • Jo Wolfie

      Yeah, some people fall for the pseudo-science but don’t assume we all do. I hate most advertising too and any idea that women have to conform to looking a certain way. As a skint post-grad I can rarely afford posh product but I do my research though and know from trial and error what works on my face and what doesn’t. I happen to get on well with some budget stuff from Superdrug, but there are other items I need to spend a bit more on to get something that delivers, for me.

    • Alkistis

      Some of us enjoy the luxury packaging of certain beauty products and are willing to spend a few more quid on something that may basically be equivalent to the £2 tube of Superdrug’s own brand equivalent, but which makes us a bit more happy every time we see it on our dressing table. It’s not all about the juice inside, you know, in the same way that (pretty much) any car can take you from A to B, but some look a lot cooler than others, some are more comfortable than others, etc. etc.

  • Throwingmuse

    It isn’t just men though. Some women do feel that it is just vanity to care about one’s appearance, I have had the phrase “makeup slave” used and even my mum (different generation I appreciate) gets het up about anything other than basic make up and skin care maintenance. Totally agree with the article. Look good = feel good = increased confidence. some days I don’t need the confidence and don’t bother, others I do. I am pretty sure my IQ and general interest in the world are the same both days.

  • Mariella (Musing on Beauty)

    Amen to that.
    Also my new year resolution was to stop reading comments on any kind of internet published article.

  • amc

    I’m a male engineer and you can take my face cream from my cold dead hands, Idiot Internet Commenter.

  • DollyBarton

    I agree with this. These anti-beauty crusaders are disingenuous in the extreme. And they always seem to make the effort to stalk the beauty columns in order to comment upon how frivolous the notion of beauty actually is…Cockknobbers!

  • Elle

    Great article. A very good friend was going through a really shit time a while ago, so (very much in the spirit of Liz Taylor) I bought her a beautiful red lippie from Lipstick queen. Nothing can make you feel better than wearing a great lipstick :-)

  • Laetitia McP

    Abso-bloody-lutely! X and btw you look amazing in that picture and why the hell shouldn’t you … Mutters at the hypocrisy of the haters.

  • Rosie Wilson

    As my mother said to me when I was little, “if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything”. Think it should be a tag line across the top of the internets.

  • grisnoirchic

    wise words Sali.
    Couldn’t second it more.

  • Tamikh

    I really enjoy your column, Sali – am currently reading from Uganda! What you see everywhere, from the poorest village to urban slums all over the world is that women want to look their best for themselves. It is all about self-esteem. I often forget to wear makeup (being a foolhardy volunteer for much of the past 10 years) but am always reminded that I should, by women in every socio-economic situation. Was meeting my future in-laws for the first time in the middle of nowhere in Mongolia, and hadn’t bathed for two weeks, but the whole village of women where I was working turned up to make me look ‘beautiful’ so that I felt good about meeting them! PS. I really enjoy your column, Sali – am currently reading from Uganda!

    • Tamikh

      Argh. Need to learn to edit before pushing post! My first ever posting here and can’t even write properly!

      • the Heronwife

        We don’t mind! Join us on the forum, we’d like to hear from you!

  • widowspider

    BRAVO. *applause*

  • Cuntpuffin

    Thank you Sali for writing this. It’s so true! Fortunately the only people I’ve seen or heard with these views are online. Trolls with nothing better to do. I love skincare and makeup and I love how it makes me feel.

  • Bekahbea

    Nothing to add that hasn’t already been said. Brilliant article, Sali. And as someone suggested, if only this could be automatically flagged up every time someone made a thickwitted comment on your Guardian column.

  • Degb

    The column is very good, but it only goes so far. From my own experience of very close family relationships with both angry men and angry women, demeaning a woman’s or a girl’s interest in beauty is about disempowering her. It is a well thought out, directed strategy for preventing her from gaining confidence and ensuring that the world treats her as lesser because the world reacts to the face we present.

  • Lucy

    Such a great article, you’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head! I attended an interview this year where I was asked “Why does someone like you want to do a job like this?” (a political PR role). When I queried what he meant he gestured at my face and said ‘You know, someone who is into their appearance so much.’
    I have run for local council for the past two years running and chair a political youth party…no mention of that, just my hair and makeup.

    • Caroline P

      I just had to comment to saw, wow, the comment you had at your interview is monumentally depressing. How anyone thinks that is suitable to say in an interview is just astounding. Have you found someone better to work for?

      • Lucy

        Thanks Caroline, it was definitely one that made me take a step back. Yes I have a fab job now – but safe to say I wore minimal makeup to the interview!

    • Jo Wolfie

      Wow, there is some everyday sexism right there. That is an outrageous thing to say! I doubt he would say anything to a very smart, well-groomed man.

  • Mudrick

    Amen and hallelujah!

  • Bev Eats For Wales

    This x a million

  • Viola

    This is the kind of article I’d love to see on the Guardian website. Can we ask them to commission you to write it?

  • Catherine Allen

    The worst are those who loftily sneer at the silliness and waste of the purchase of a nice product or handbag that could last you for life and then decree that they simply cannot manage without the latest gadget/piece of West African minerals some child lost a limb for and will never break down into the soil, and brand you as a fool for using last years phone, which anyone clued in knows is obsolete by now.

    Sorry, just had to get that off my chest! 100% agree with this article.

  • Mariana Leal

    Sorry, I am not ware of the events that sail describes, of course I can tell by reading her excellent column here, but can someone give me the exact reference please?

  • Alkistis

    I don’t think, nay I AM SURE, that Sali compared her situation to the likes of Guantamo, poverty or domestic violence. What she said was that an interest in beauty does not preclude one from being aware about these situations.

  • Sally Bowles

    Love everything about this, apart from the fact you were compelled to write it because of the comments below the line. Not much to add to the excellent comments here but it also struck me that the biggest vanity is these people’s self righteous indignation and belief in their own bloody point of view. Who made them the arbiter of what’s ‘right’? Nobody, that’s who. Beyond words.

  • Janet M

    I had a brilliantly witty and incisive comment lined up but by the time I started typing, I’d forgotten it. Anyway, brilliant article.

    I can’t help thinking a lot of the naysayers are just pissed off by the existence of a woman who is more successful and popular than they will ever be. Also, as most of the comments (unusually for the Grauniad) are good natured, friendly and helpful, this spoils their internal narrative that women are bitchy, competitive shrews who hate each other.

  • Ida

    I think you need to re-read Sali’s piece. She’s surely not comparing her own situation with the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, she’s saying it’s a pity that some people equate an interest in personal appearance and cosmetics with being a vapid airhead, and feel the need to share that opinion in comment fields. The WHITHER DARFUR knee-jerk reaction is just tiresome.

    And re: “a truly intelligen woman would try every brand” – II’m not sure I understand your reasoning. Surely anyone can choose if they want to pay for the big-name brand with the higher price (after researching if they so wish), or would rather buy a cheaper alternative that caters to their needs and desires? Nobody is being forced. What’s great e.g. in this forum is that members share reviews, tips and even warnings, so the risk of being “lured” by all the Mc Donald type evil masterminds you seem to dislike is even smaller.

  • Margaret Doherty

    This comment was hard to understand. It seems to be saying, inter alia, that one should be a discerning consumer. Which is what Sali’s column is all about!

  • Marybeth Ali

    Well said, Sali. It’s just so bloody sad that you even have to say it.

  • Jo Wolfie

    Poor comprehension skills.

    And I’m pretty sure Sali’s job is to test all the products out there, the glittery ones and the not-so-glittery ones, and assess what in her opinion works well and what doesn’t. That’s why I read her column

  • Sam W

    Hell yes, I’m going to print and laminate a few dozen copies of this and hand them out to the haters.

  • Jane C

    Who has the time to do this? Or the inclination.. why would anyone who isn’t interested in beauty have anything to say on those that do. I don’t like swimming but I’ve never left a comment on a swimming site (if there is one) berating anyone for it or even sharing my view. The internet is an easy place to be brave; those same commenters would have a very difficult time saying any of that to our faces (not least because I’d have smacked it).

  • MitziDelBra

    Even in my deepest, darkest, shittiest times, painting my face has given me enough strength to face the world. I have cried until streams of black cover my cheeks, then washed it off and started again. I have covered my tired, puffy, ruddy face with creams and lotions to soothe, and I have wallowed in baths scented with expensive oils and foams. Life is a shitstorm, and the person who judges me for spending £25 on a lipstick can fucking do one. If it gets me through the day, who is anyone to judge?

  • Hollie

    A-BLOODY-MEN. I find it both ludicrous and insulting. I read, I donate to charity, I worry about starving children in Africa. I am perfectly able to do this while still enjoying my life and treating myself to a few bits occasionally. Somehow I doubt if I checked these people’s accounts that every spare penny they earned is going to Oxfam either. Whether I wear make up or not (I go 50/50 most of the time) it’s about me and what I want, not somebody else’s idea of what I should look like.

  • hmm

    very well put Sali.

  • the wife of Brian

    And so say all of us! Wonderfully put, haterz can go shite. *stares at self in mirror, reads War and Peace*

  • HARRIET FREW

    Sali. Love your columns on beauty and the many other informative and intelligent features you have written over the years. Don’t let these trolls get you down. They represent a tiny minority. Continue to do what you do brilliantly.

  • Solange

    “A passion for surface clearly demonstrates a lack of depth.” You are a poet, miss Hughes. It’s mostly men posting these kind of repulsive comments. The men who expect beauty, yet judge and belittle women for trying to achieve it. Self-righteous pricks.

  • katycoo

    seriously? ignore one, maybe ignore the first 10, maybe even 50, but relentless personal attacks week after week are not to be ignored, they should be addressed.

    but then maybe take your own advice and if you don’t enjoy the columns, the way they are written, the material included and the author, perhaps just don’t read them and quietly go off to read something else?

  • Fi Nightingale

    You took your time.

  • lovestruck

    woop woop!!!!! go sali!

  • lovestruck

    almost fed the troll!

  • Sue

    So excellent!

  • tim

    You’re well within your rights to laugh at someone who spends £50 on some product that’s chemically the same as one that costs £10 – whether it’s to do with beauty or anything else. People can of course do what they like, but it’s not misogyny to suggest the beauty industry is packed full of pseudoscience.

    • Alkistis

      Why is it ‘well within your rights’ to laugh at what someone else chooses to spend THEIR OWN money on? Who gave you these ‘rights’? What is it to you? How do you know what criteria they used to make their choice? How do you know that they didn’t know full well that the £50 product is chemically equivalent to the £10 one, but still opted for the £50 one because they preferred the packaging, the buying experience, the ethical background of the brand or even the sales assistant who helped them with it? Why is the chemical composition a more valid reason to buy something than any of these factors?

    • Lee

      I once bought a £8 bottle of wine. It was very different to the £30 bottle of wine I had the night before. Strange… the ingredients were virtually identical…..

  • Kittie K

    Well said Sali!

  • Rea

    Love you Sali. Care for our bodies is care for our souls. That’s what you teach.
    Girls and women who have endured difficulty, whether with health challenges or psychological distress, benefit hugely from self-care. What you do has positive impact on our lives.
    Also, I thank you for always balance affordable options with Department Store high-end brands (often favouring the Pharmacy options) in your Guardian column. You serve women in the most loving of ways.
    Never mind the bullocks. As difficult as it is, ignore the haters; engaging with them is a waste of your energy and time.

  • Sarmala

    Right on Sali!
    There are too many hateful people trolling the internet.

  • Guest

    THANK YOU. People are too multifaceted to be judged by an interest in beauty/fashion. Do what makes you happy and live and let live, y’all.

  • http://myaudienceisowls.blogspot.com/ Dottie

    Excellent! Thank you so much for writing this.

  • Megan

    This is not just a beauty issue. The anonymity of the internet brings out a surprising level of what must be latent misogyny. I worked at an internet company for a while which produced articles and videos with experts in fields from science, entertainment, psychology, the arts, etc. Nearly every time we published a video with a woman there was a comment on her appearance (bad or good–and we’re talking PULITZER PRIZE WINNING AUTHORS. NOBLE PRIZE WINNING SCIENTISTS) and some asshole mocking her for not knowing what she was talking about. A shocking number of comments were outright violent. Videos with male experts were taken more seriously and at face value than those of women experts–and they were shared more. They did better in terms of page views. The profundity of the problem was arresting. Again, likely misogyny that already exists and is put out in to the open because assholes are less afraid to say what they think when they’re anonymous. Disqus helps moderate it a bit, but not much.

  • Megan

    Also, this is an extreme example, but thinking about Jo’s comment… I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 23 and had to shave my head, go through 4 rounds of chemo, etc. Shaving my head was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. This is not a comfortable thing for people to hear, because no one wants to hear that a cancer patient is vain–they want to hear that we’re happy to be alive. But I wasn’t happy to be alive at the time–my self confidence was devastated to the point that I developed social anxiety. I simply did not look like myself without eyelashes! I looked sick. Makeup was very helpful in covering up what I was going through at the time so that I could go to work, and it was ultimately an essential element of regaining my self confidence. One of the greatest moments in my healing (aside from hearing that my tumor marker numbers were down) was finally having grown enough hair to cut my unruly white girl fro into a chic Jean Seberg hairdo. I lost the “glow” and “healthy skin” that we associate with youth, but finally I thought, fuck it, I’ll put some highlighter on my cheekbones and move on.

  • pam

    I’m 30 and still i feel that when any man(or judgmental
    women) hang in the room i shouldn’t talk about fashion or beauty, or
    excuse
    my self by compensating and talking about politics, it’s pathetic! just
    who are they to say what is shallow or not? they worship football
    players who get paid millions just to kick a boll.
    i have a masters in psychology, i work for animal rights, read actual
    books and I’m very conscious about the plat and use Eco/natural
    products,
    does that mean i have to hide my reading beauty blogs and cry about the
    economics or preach about being vegan all day long? that just stupid and
    sad.

  • Too distractible

    Fascinating….

    My thoughts:

    Fascinating….

    My thoughts:

    1. Charlotte is bordering on insane. If you cannot go to bed or face your friends or roommates without make up, if the suggestion of such a thing causes you to proclaim “NO WAY” then it is possible that you may be a little too fanatically attached to make up (even if others think it’s cute and “just Charlotte”). It’s interesting that you use the word “vanity” because vanity, from what I understand, refers to excessive pride or beliefs (the emphasis on excessive,
    not pride or beliefs). Is your interest in aesthetics, make-up, hair, skin and so on an extension of vanity or is it
    the same as my interest in playing the flute? It’s a genuine question and I am not suggesting by it that you don’t have interests past beauty. Also, the flute is just an independent example – I am tone deaf and play nothing musical.

    2. I think it’s a huge generalisation to say that people criticising what you call ‘mildest vanity’ is people getting behind ignorant female stereotypes. Frankly, they could just be communists (amongst other things which are not related to misogyny).

    3. The evolution of modern cosmetics into the force it is today is a measure of Western capitalism. The choice you speak about – the individual choice to indulge in excesses if they want to – is a western capitalist ideal. Like all other western capitalist ideals, it is great but it also has downsides. The cosmetics industry pours a lot of money into marketing – into convincing you that you will be happier, have more friends, be outrageously beautiful etc if only you paint your face (into cultivating the ideal that indulging in excesses is not just an individual choice but an individual right). I’m fine when I see that kind of marketing – I am (now) able to roll my eyes and move on. Of course, marketers know this and don’t aim their products at me. They aim them at those more vulnerable than me (like teens). Imagine a 13 year old who cannot bear for anyone to see her without make-up.

    4. I’m not sure who (other than trolls, but they are everywhere) directs the level of aggression you are talking about at women who spend 30 pounds of their own hard earned money on cosmetics or other ‘girly’
    things like magazines. I am greater supporter of choice. Still, I do not understand why some women spend a lot of money on make up (especially when there are just as effective cheaper alternatives) in the same way I cannot understand why many men spend a lot of money on cuffs (and don’t even get me started on ties). Of course, they have every right to do it (in fact, the society expects them to do it)! Of course, I’m not going to stand in their way. But I think deeper issues relate to consumerism and materialism (and I’m talking about people who spend more than 30 pounds – perhaps people like Charlotte).

    5. Women indulging passion for fashion and beauty is not the same as men (or women or in between) indulging in rugby. Rugby matches, wine tastings and so on are social events comparable to mothers play groups, netball, ice skating, cooking classes and so on. Reading a women’s magazine or using cosmetics is more like a man reading car magazines or polishing/buying cars or polishing his hair into oblivion or putting on aftershave. You’ve never told a guy he should be spending more time out in the world than polishing his car? Oops, I have. He missed his mum’s birthday because of the stupid car.

    6. I have no doubt you are an intelligent, passionate and a caring person. But you are part of the industry which can, rightly, be criticised to the moon and back – packaging, marketing practices, animal testing, chemicals and on and on I
    could go. So instead of spending your weekends berating those who disagree with you – what are you doing that is so
    much better? Rhetorical question (I just wanted to end the way you did). A better question, one that I have more
    interest in, do you see yourself as having any responsibility for the misdeeds of the industry you are in? (no is a perfectly acceptable answer). Do you see yourself as having any responsibility to be different than what others within the industry have been criticised for?

    7. Choice is a funny thing. Is Charlotte exercising freedom of choice when the thought of anyone seeing her without make up feels her with dread (even if she is able to laugh it off)? Is a 12 year old girl putting on make up in
    LA exercising a freedom of choice when she puts it on or is she doing what is needed to avoid being ostracised or to make herself more attractive to boys? There are reasons other than misogyny to be against the culture of the Western cosmetics industry, even if it is an individual choice to be part of that industry. You have every right in the world to be who
    you are and enjoy what you do. By the same token, others have the right to question the value of what you do – and
    some do it for reasons that have nothing to do with misogyny.

    8. For the record, I am a woman, I’m not a communist, I don’t tend to wear make up but probably would a whole lot more if I had a slave to put it on my face, and 99% of time I don’t even notice let alone care who is wearing
    make up and who is not.
    which can be criticised as much as the cosmetics industry.

    • Guest

      Your argument is all over the place. Where should I begin…

      • pip02alw

        What part do you disagree with, guest?

        I don’t agree with everything written here but I do share the frustration of listening to the arguments Sali and others make ignoring the underlying issues of the debate about make up, skincare and the ethics of the industry of enhancing appearance, which go beyond the debate about people’s rights to spend money on what they want. it isn’t for example just a question of whether beauty, as a matter of fact, can make people feel more attractive or buoy them after a bad experience (clearly it can) – it’s a question of whether it is a good thing that the world is such that women are inclined to have that kind of response at all, that self confidence is so closely tied to self image in the first place – issues like whether we should take that as a given, or challenge it or try and change it are reasonable things to question and the answers to these questions may have real implications for how we interact with the beauty industry.

        I also don’t really think it’s fair to put this all down to misogyny. The comments that I saw were all compatible with people expressing views about more general problem with capitalist goodies (which may very well for all we know extend to ferraris, cufflinks etc.) or expressed sceptical views about the efficacy or value-for-money of the products, which I think is fair enough really, and which very many people share.

        It’s a bit disappointing generally to see so little dissent, debate or discussion here and elsewhere on the site – whatever you think about these issues, they are things about which we can all have a reasonable disagreement. It isn’t crazy for people to raise some of these issues about the beauty industry and I think if you are happy to join in and support this industry, either by working in it or giving it your money, you shouldn’t take offence when people ask questions or challenge you.

        • guest

          Her entire argument is ironic as she’s coming from a judgmental place,
          but if you want me to be specific….

          Her comment about Charlotte… does she know that Charlotte’s not enforcing her beauty routine on anyone? She was simply describing her own routine. Her desire to have makeup on 24/7 may be extreme but it’s hardly a good reason to harshly ridicule someone for doing what they want to do with their own life. Why does it bother her so much?Charlotte’s not trying to convince or enforce this on anyone else. A lot of stuff in this world is insane. I just bought some Colombian mangos in January for my faux Thai salad. What’s more insane and why does it matter? Does it even matter? It’s all relative.

          Her comment on the beauty industry’s marketing didn’t really say anything. Does she know what marketing is and how it works? It sounds like she’s mad at marketing itself. Try to go in a store—any store—and find me a product that doesn’t have calculated packaging.

          And her argument that indulging in fashion and beauty aren’t social activities. What??? She says it’s unlike wine tasting. Huh? People can’t admire clothes in a group?? Beauty can’t be enjoyed in a group in the same way people sip and admire fermented grapes? How many fashion/beauty events take place all over the world (whether it be an event in a department store or a major fashion show).

          It’s funny how she said “others have the right to question the value of what you do,” but she doesn’t seem to want to give people a chance to give their explanation of why they do what they do. Sali’s article was a response to all this critiquing. So the questioning is allowed but the rebuttal is not?

          She says everyone has a right to do what they want—BUT thinks it’s only fine if people spend what’s within HER own budget? It offends her when people spend more than 30 pounds? huh?

          • pip02alw

            Agree about Charlotte to some extent and she seems like a very nice person but there is still a big issue about the message that kind of thing sends and the fact is if you have a public profile you have a responsibility to think about the impressions that the things you say are likely to have on
            others. Granted it would be much worse if she were also saying ‘all women should do this’ – but the fact she isn’t doing that bad thing doesn’t show she not doing anything problematic at al when she says those things about how she uses/regards makeup. There is such a thing as setting a bad example, and if you aer in the public eye the fact is you have to thnk about how what you say and do will be interpreted

            Not all marketing is nec bad, but some marketing is unethical – concerns about marketing in the beauty industry are that it often utilises anxieties that women, predominantly, have about appearance and ageing that many think it unjust that they have in the first place, and that men have in far fewer numbers. Marketing bread, stationary, electrical goods etc. doesn’t have that character so the fact that other products are marketed and packaged carefully doesn’t show that exactly the same thing is going on there as what goes on with promoting makeup/skincare.

            Fashion and beauty editors no doubt do attend lots of events or fashion shows, it’s part of their job after all – but for most people they don’t buy mosituriser and serum or lipstick and then go to an event, or buy it in groups. The point isn’t that they couldn’t do that – but as a matter of fact beauty isn’t ,for most people (not beauty journalists) connected to meet-ups, socialising or human interaction. I don’t think that matters all that much personally, as i think its fine to have interests that one pursues alone – but maybe interests that are pursued in groups or socially maybe do have an extra valuable or worthwhile feature to them – surely it is fine to acknowledge that
            as part of the debate

            >>It’s funny how she said “others have the right to question the value of what you do,” but she
            doesn’t seem to want to give people a chance to give their explanation of why they do what they do. Sali’s article was a response to all this critiquing. So the questioning is allowed but the rebuttal is not?
            I really don’t think she is saying that at all! She isn’t saying Sali shouldn’t have written her article, she is just listing other things which are relevant to which side of the argument you come down on. To me it just sounded like frustration that no one on the site seemed interested in thinking
            about or discussing any of the pertinent points that one could raise on this issue

            >>She says everyone has a right to do what they want—BUT thinks it’s only fine if
            people spend what’s within HER own budget? It offends her when people spend
            more than 30 pounds? huh?
            Don;t think she says it ‘offends’ her actually and it’s not really fair to paraphrase her in that way, she is making relevant points which bear on an interesting subject. Similarly I don’t
            think her points are judgemental, they are expressing her view. It really isn’t fair to slander people, accuse them of being judgmental, having prejudices, scorn for women etc. without good
            cause and certainly not for expressing a view about relevant considerations to an ethical debate– similarly with accusations of misogny. Obviously all this stuff COULD be explained by misogyny (lots of things could) but without good reason to think so in a given case i really think its quite unfair to make such bald accusations

          • Guest

            Her point when she says “people who spend more than 30 pounds on beauty products have issues with consumerism and materialism” isn’t judgmental? Interesting. We’ll agree to disagree here.

            Any advertising that includes models has been calculated with beauty, age, appearance, and fashion/styling. So her point on marketing can be said about almost any industry (food, electronics, cars, furniture, etc). Again agree to disagree.

            “Most people they don’t buy moisturiser and serum or lipstick and then go to an event.” Really? How would you define “event?” Many people DO put on makeup and wear nice clothes when meeting with friends, going to dinner parties, going to shows, etc. I consider these things to be events. Social gatherings.

            “She isn’t saying Sali shouldn’t have written her article,” I never said she said that. I’m saying Sali’s entire article was a response to the critiques that “too distractible” was redundantly writing in the comments.

            “She is just listing other things which are relevant to which side of the argument you come down on.” As am I. Both listing things that are relevant to our views.

            Perhaps the problem is you don’t find beauty and fashion high-brow enough? You say there isn’t an extra valuable or worthwhile feature to it. Maybe a visit to the Costume Institute in New York or any fashion exhibition for that matter might change your mind?

          • Guest

            >>> When I use the term “model” I don’t mean high fashion ones. I mean any person used in an ad. (e.g. a woman/man in a hoover ad)

          • pip02alw

            She says ‘deeper issues relate to consumerism and materialism’ she doesn’t say THEY have issues – she’s talking about the broader issues around what socially is regarded to be an appropriate way to use resources. But I can see what you mean about singling out people who spend over £30

            Of course people put on makeup before they socialise – that’s not the same as an interest in make up being a social activity or creating opportunities for meetups. I have a shower before I meet friends, go to a party – that doesn’t make having a shower a social activity. Unless you are talking about makeup enabling people to go out and socialise because they wouldn’t want to go out without it – which wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing. I think that point’s a bit of a red herring anyway though.

            i agree with you about the use of models in advertising – i just think it’s probably much worse in the case of promoting beauty products because the claims made in parallel with the use of those images directly and explicitly (rather than implicitly) feed off of and manipulate insecurities and anxieties i.e. “you will look younger, thinner, more beautiful if you buy this cream”

            Your suggestion was that Too distractible doesn’t seem to want to give people a chance to give their explanation of why they do what they do or that she was suggesting their rebuttals aren’t allowed – but I really don’t know how you would get that from her post, it is just a list of things which are relevant to this topic and which aren’t taken into account in sali’s article. I don’t think they are redundant as Sali hasn’t actually addressed the issues that were raised in that post. All of the discussion on this site is around the right for women to choose what they want, and the compatibility of interest in makeup with intelligence and having other interests. These are the other things that are relevant to the issue , that some people think are genuinely problematic, and that hadn’t been mentioned

            I didn’t say there isn’t valuable or worhtwhile about beauty or makeup – i like it a lot actually, I do personally wear it every day and i’m really interested in this site otherwise i wouldn’t read it. I think Sali is extremely cool and funny, I just happen to not agree with her about every single thing, and I don’t think that people disagreeing with her over things on which there can be reasonable, intelligent disagreement should be suppressed by throwaway remarks or accusations of prejudice.

          • guest

            Fashion and beauty most definitely create opportunities for social gatherings. Events for professionals in the industry are not the only ones that count. Isn’t the simple activity of going shopping/browsing with a friend a social activity? Going to a spa with friends? Fashion’s Night Out?(Which is meant for the public.) Any who—

            When I buy Nike shoes I don’t expect them to turn me into some toned, driven person who’s into athletics. Maybe I’m oversimplifying here. but marketing is applied to too much to single out the beauty/fashion industry. I see what you’re saying about the advertising hitting a nerve with peoples’ insecurities but to say they’re trying feed off their insecurities? As if their aim with marketing is to manipulate people to feel bad? I’m gonna argue that that’s a huge generalization. But hey ho.

            Clearly we don’t agree. I still stand by my opinion and respect your right to have your own. As for “accusations of prejudice” I’m only going by what “Too distractible” wrote. (Obviously I don’t know her.) But I still think she was coming from a judgmental place.

          • Guest

            “She says ‘deeper issues relate to consumerism and materialism’ she doesn’t say THEY have issues – she’s talking about the broader issues.”
            Well she specifically called those people out: “and I’m talking about people who spend more than 30 pounds – perhaps people like Charlotte”.
            I guess we’re interpreting her words differently.

    • Beklet

      I’m unclear why you mention Charlotte on this post, rather than the Charlotte post…

  • Anthe

    God, those comments were so depressing. I read them out to my boyfriend and he couldn’t believe how sad and small minded those people are. This is a brilliant article Sali – erudite and intelligent, which would be the opposite of the keyboard warriors.

  • Carolinesweetie

    It’s my skin, my face, anyone who criticises what I do can do one tbh. It’s my choice. I choose to look after myself, again my choice.

  • Lana Turner

    I would be interested to hear what steps the Guardian are taking to protect their staff. Belittling comments are just the thin end of the wedge as far as I’m concerned and it would not be tolerated in any other work environment. Fair comment or criticism is one thing, but trolling? Justifying your existence to a load of anonymous people who couldn’t care less about beauty is out of proportion with the right to reply. Unfortunate that you’ve been dispirited by it. Fortunately their views are utterly irrelevant. Brilliant article as per. Keep it coming.

  • fourtinefork

    Sali Hughes: you are treasure. THANK YOU.

  • wiiaholic

    Beautifully put! I don’t read the stuff I’m not interested in, far less make comments about how pointless it is…

  • Amy

    Loved this, thanks Sali. Also reading from Uganda – you have a lot of fans here!!

  • TSteeper

    Reply to them with this

  • Jes

    I’m a man and I like to make myself look good. I use a variety of hair products because I really love my hair. So of course women are going to wear makeup and style there hair, a lot of people do. I’m very confused, I didn’t even know so many people complain about this sort of thing. Why would a man complain about a woman making herself look pretty anyway? The internet is really baffling sometimes. By the way your hair is amazing Sali!

  • Annikky Lamp

    Amen.

  • Janesettia

    Very eloquently written article Sali. Very sorry that you had to write it – ‘a deep seated scorn of women generally’ indeed.

    I don’t know if you have read ‘The Thoughtful Dresser’ by Linda Grant, she was writing about fashion but I think what she says could be applied to beauty/make-up. I read the book a few years ago and wrote out this quotation at the time:

    ‘…fashion is largely to do with pleasure, and pleasure is not rational, for we do not choose to eat, say, a chocolate eclair with the aim of fulfilling our daily calorie quota. We fall victim to a cake because it is delicious. Interestingly, the angry rages against unnecessary clothes are seldom replicated in moral campaigns against flambeed cherries or steak au poivre. No-one pickets restaurants or rails against the conspicuous waste of unnecessary calories in a three-course meal, or the functional superfluity of cake. It is pointless fashion, not pointless cuisine that gets the moralists’ goat, and you would have to be pretty dim not to sniff the scent of misogyny that surrounds their outrage.’ (Linda Grant)

    I would like to say how much I appreciate your work and all the effort you put into this site and your column, responding to comments and questions, etc. I have been following your column from very early on but haven’t yet commented on the Guardian site. You have helped me rediscover a long-buried love of beauty and make-up and I am very grateful to you – thank you. (Sorry for gushing but it’s true!)

  • sj241

    THIS x 1 million.The thing that always gets me is, how do these people have the time/energy to be bothered? If I was offended/aggrieved by all the many things that (for instance) the BTL Guardian commentators are – particularly the things that have literally no impact on anyone’s life unless they choose it to (e.g. a perfectly wonderful make-up column – either you read it, and buy the products, or you don’t and presumably no harm done) – then I think I would explode/have no time for anything else, ever. Which is what makes it so hilarious when they decide to bring up the world issues beside which such ‘fripparies’ apparently should pale into insignificance. Putting aside Sali’s very good point that it is very possible to be legitimately interested in both, if you really believe that caring about e.g. Darfur means caring about good skin is a no-no, couldn’t the time/energy you spend making bitchy comments BTL be better spent e.g. giving to a relevant charity etc?

    AARGH. Thank you for writing this Sali. Wish they would print in the Guardian.

    • sj241

      Also – sorry – just to make it clear, was not suggesting Sali’s column has no impact at all (it has had a very positive impact on me, and my skincare routine!). Just that people seem to kind of choose to get offended by it

  • Lafeeverte1984

    Well said as usual Sali – great piece!

  • Flojo Gtl

    I’m late to this party but I wish I could give this a thousand “likes”. So well put Sali!

  • LauraH

    Sali, it is a pleasure to read anything you write. You are such a talented woman, warm, witty and so damned sensible. Your columns are a mine of information and I particularly admire how you take the time and effort to reply to people who seek your advice. More power to you Ms Hughes, what a fine woman you are. Keep up the fabulous work x

  • Steffi Gtl

    I’ve been thinking about this for weeks (in a wider sense maybe even months and years). There are different issues involved here and that’s where it gets complicated (for me, not necessarily for anyone else):

    a) misogyny
    -The whole problem with men assuming makeup has something to do with wanting to appeal to them and, as a consequence of this assumption, posting comments detailing their personal preferance (e.g. the “natural look”)
    - men (just men) who prefer the “natural look” because they are dead afraid of taking Wonder Woman home and wake up to Chewbacca the next day (yes , i have heard people say that. And yes, I have laughed. Loudly. For a long, long time.)
    - the hatred makeup and other similar hobbies typically associated with feminity get compared to more “worthy” (i.e. “masculine”) endeavours e.g. sports or cars

    b) trolls/ hostility in comment sections
    Very complicated. On the one hand, all online communities will at some point develop an us-them mentality and that makes dissent valuable and important but on the other hand, people need to remember that they are talking to actual human beings – with feelings and all that. Online comments have made ME cry for hours in the past and don’t think journalists should have to deal with other people’s inability to make an argument without going for cheap, personal attacks. My personal feelings on this are that the internet has enough space for everyone’s opinion on everyone and everything but posting pure hate below an article is like pissing in your neighbour’s backyard because you don’t like his gardening.

    c) luxury products
    Yes, everyone has a right to buy whatever they want with their own money BUT if we accept consumer power as a force in social change, then consumer’s choices can (and should) be criticized(e.g. if you bought that cheap H&M angora sweater, you deserve a lecture on tortured rabbits in China). Isn’t a 100+ lipbalm a symbol of rising inequality levels and the incredulous commenter like someone out of a Chekhov short story(” There ought to be behind the door of every happy, contented man some
    one standing with a hammer continually reminding him with a tap that
    there are unhappy people”?). What are the moral implications of “luxury”? (Personally, I don’t like “the system” but I try not to judge individuals. You never know the backstory/the reasoning behind a choice and assuming you do is just plain ignorant)

    d)makeup/cosmetics/marketing/corporations
    is makeup feminist? Are expensive cosmetics/skincare nothing more than placebos/examples of the “expensive wine” effects? Are cosmetic claims nothing more than elaborate bullshit bingo? Does wanting to beautify myself make me complicit in a world where six year olds are already so body-conscious that there’s an increasing number of eating disorders among pre-pubescents? Does everything have to hold up to “scientific” standards (I assume the number of “is this scientificallly valid?” comments below beauty columns might be related to the sceptics movement which I fundamentally agree with but which tends to encourage pompous self-righteousness)?

    e) stereotyping.

    Full disclosure: i do it (I JUDGE THE HELL OUT OF EVERYONE ). Frankly, we all do it. Feeling superior to someone because he/she is wearing lipstick and therefor stupid is stereotyping (and fucking annoying). But assuming that people who are plain rude online are probably worthless human beings with no accomplishments beyond their browser history is also stereotyping.

    In short: Be nice to each other. Life’s hard enough.

    • pip02alw

      I agree with you about point (c) – it’s boring listening to ppl shouting
      about their legal right to buy what they want with their money as
      though the ethical issues just end there. You have a right to purchase
      battery hen eggs, clothes made in sweatshops, EDL membership, foie
      gras, golliwogs, unlimited flights and (until recently) makeup tested on animals with your
      ‘hard earned cash’ – having a legal entitlement to purchase something
      doesn’t mean there can be no moral questions around purchasing that
      thing

  • Claire

    Hi, I don’t wear make up but read your blog weekly & your guardian column religiously. I glaze over the make up bit but give me an article on serums, moisturisers, nail polish….. love it. I spent most of Christmas donating on-line to Syria & UNICEF, it’s my money, I choose how, when & what to spend it on. Live your own life, be true to yourself, other peoples hang ups are theirs to own. It’s human nature to be a mass of contradictions, that’s what makes us human.

  • rinat peled

    The utter audacity of these people who dare judging us women on what we spend OUR money is absolutely scandalous! They have some chutzpah! I say to all of them- Get out of my purse and mind your own business!!

  • Jane Porter

    Just caught up with this. misogynists use any excuse to belittle women

  • Beckyblues

    This piece is amazing, and it makes me mad that you had to write it Sali. The comments are pretty ace too, and give me some renewed faith in humanity.

  • Fee B

    I am admittedly late to this piece, but am a wee bit miffed that you’ve had hassle. There are little pockets of gloominess in the world where these miserable people should congregate to fester in should they choose. We really don’t need to bite back with world-view knowledge to prove a point. Rise above it all Sali. Life is bloody hard enough with kids; no kids; housework; jobs; redundancy; nice spouses; arsehole spouses; and a whole other skip load of real stuff, so thank the lord for Vitazing.

  • Anis

    I’m so happy I came across your answer,I do always feel even more proud to be a woman when reading your articles or seeing your videos.I think you should not have to explain yourself or the job you do to anyone,especially that it is so clear that you look like very well educated,generous and kind person.Please ignore cruelty and jalousy,they are such a poison and waste of time.

  • Khadijat Ayodele

    I have family members who think I’m too obsessed with skincare and make up, never mind unknown faces in the virtual world. Never mind I they were present as I was being educated to post graduate level. Looking after one’s self is all about protecting and enhancing self worth and feelings of self esteem. No-one has a right to judge what makes another person feel good, so long that person’s ‘feel good’ does not infringe on anyone else’s rights. Surely we can have a conversation about eradicating world hunger with perfectly painted lips? Last time I checked, make up doesn’t not make any woman an air brain.