Image Source: Twitter user JameelaJamil
If you've been active on Twitter in the past 24 hours, you've probably seen the conversation (to put it lightly) around Kim Kardashian's KKW Beauty Skin Perfecting Body Foundation launch. Specifically, a series of tweets from Jameela Jamil that have gone viral.
Jamil has made headlines as a crusader of sorts against traditional beauty standards; in her own words, she is a "FEMINIST-IN-PROGRESS" and she "fight(s) the people who profit from your shame." In this series of tweets, she fights against Kardashian in response to her new body makeup launch.
So here it goes: in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with body makeup or wanting to wear it. Plus, this type of product is not new. Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, Scott Barnes Body Bling, Vita Liberata Body Blur, Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector — they paved the way for KKW. They've been used on red carpets and photo shoots for years. This doesn't mean we shouldn't question their existence and how they might contribute to unattainable standards of beauty, but the point being Kardashian elicits criticism no matter what she does, and Jamil has been frank in her disdain for the star. (For the record, the aforementioned products are awesome.)
If Jamil feels this way, why are we given a pass to wear face makeup, in her eyes? "When I get asked about my use of make up, I like to cite @flexmami as my inspiration," she tweeted. "She doesn't use it to cover herself up, she uses it to play with, draw attention to and celebrate her features. Fun, bold, obvious and arty colours and lines are how I do mine if I wear any." By that point, unless we are wearing makeup as a form of creative expression, we should feel shame in wearing it? Does that mean I'm not confident if I want to wear eyeliner because it not-so-obviously creates the illusion of a thicker lash line? (Side note, can I get Flex.Mami's rates? She's a genius.)
When I get asked about my use of make up, I like to cite @flexmami as my inspiration. She doesn't use it to cover herself up, she uses it to play with, draw attention to and celebrate her features. Fun, bold, obvious and arty colours and lines are how I do mine if I wear any. pic.twitter.com/8UxYlQAru8
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) June 25, 2019
Jamil has talked at length about how she doesn't wear makeup and if she does, she does it herself and the application is minimal. I love this for her, as she has discussed how in the past she has felt pressure to wear makeup and told Allure this year, "When I got cast on The Good Place as Tahani, this great beauty that everybody talks about, I found it very uncomfortable. It actually made me feel a bit bad about myself at first. I thought everyone would think it was really ridiculous that I would be cast to play this beautiful person."
It's clear that she too had insecurities, and I believe at the root of her online commentary, she doesn't want anyone else to feel the way she did. (She has discussed this as well.) However, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Jamil herself mentions her looks were a point of discussion as the first female host of The Official Chart, and she was cast as a beautiful woman on a network show — by today's standard, she is a definition of mainstream beauty, and it feels tone deaf to tell women we must be ashamed, and that it's an act of self-hatred, if we want to conceal certain things on our body.
Tearing down another woman for her choice in wearing makeup, or perhaps wearing makeup that doesn't fit your definition of what intersectional feminism looks like, seems pointed and unnecessary. Do I agree that Kardashian should nix hocking laxative tea? Of course. (I'd prefer that brand not exist at all.) Anyone with a brain knows her body is not a result of her drinking a "detox" tea. I do think Kardashian deserves to be taken to task for her decisions to appropriate culture, like wearing cornrows or, more recently, naming and trademarking her shapewear brand Kimono. And I understand and even appreciate that someone would want us to stop "feeling shame" for normal, natural things our bodies endure.
But I am not ashamed of the surgery scar on my right thigh or the small chunk of my left leg that's missing after a nasty infection, even if sometimes I cover it up. I'm not ashamed of the pores on my legs that seem to be more apparent than everyone else's, the stretch marks on my large bottom, or the scars from moles that have been removed over the years. In fact, I rarely think about them unless they are brought up by someone else, which is why I sometimes choose to wear these products, so I don't have to discuss my physical appearance should I not want to. I don't wear body makeup because I'm ashamed. I wear it because sometimes I like to.
And most of the time, I don't! This product was not made to be worn every single day. (Although you can if you'd like.) It was a solution for big events, when you might want to spruce up a little.
Thing is, out of everything Kardashian has launched since she created her beauty brand, I actually took interest in the body makeup because, for the first time, it felt like she created a product that was truly meaningful to her. It's solution-oriented; it is a product that a diverse group of people, no matter their race, gender identity, or age, could benefit from, should they want to. I loved seeing her demo it on her psoriasis, and I appreciated that she demonstrated it on her grandmother, a segment of the market that's often left out. And as someone who gets over 100 pitches a day for beauty products, it's not just another lipstick or mascara.
I understand where Jamil is coming from: we are conditioned to achieve perfection, and we must try to keep perspective. I love most of this response she gave to a fan on Twitter: "I think we should all just be working every day towards being kinder to, and more accepting of ourselves. If we wouldn't tell our loved ones to cover up their marks, then why do we tell it to ourselves? we must unpack this self hatred, find the cause, and destroy it together."
I was with her until the self-hatred part. Just because we want to cover up a scar, acne, or whatever else we fancy doesn't mean we hate ourselves. Insecurity does not equal self-hatred. I see her point: Does anyone really need body makeup? No. But does anyone really need makeup in general? No. For those of us who choose to wear it, we know that. It's not a necessity, but it's something we do for ourselves. We shouldn't be shamed for these decisions, just like you shouldn't be shamed for choosing not to. And frankly, not everything we decide to do is in reaction to a specific standard being pushed upon us by a brand or through the male gaze. It's because we feel good doing it.
Jamil and Kardashian are both stunning. I've seen them without makeup and thought to myself, "I wish I looked that great without makeup, I probably wouldn't wear it as much." Then I laugh maniacally and drink my coffee, fully knowing no matter what I looked like, I would still wear makeup because I love the hell out of it.
I think sometimes people think I'm on some sort of a feminist high horse, but truly it's just an "I made so many mistakes and wasted so much time, money and potential for happiness on trying to be perfect enough for society and I don't want you to have to do the same-horse." pic.twitter.com/FTMSKTOGjA
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) June 26, 2019