I don't wear make up. I wear war paint.
Whenever the topic of conversation is "make up", I like to play a round of bullshit bingo in my head. The always winning sentiment is usually - but not exclusively - uttered by a dude and it is this: "Girls look so much better without any make up!" The "BLEEEERGHHHH!!!"-sound that goes off in my brain is sometimes so enormous, it stretches out to my vocal chords and I actually say it out loud. Because the sentence above is the. most. stupid. thing. to. say. ever.
Dear People with this particular opinion: please, just, shut up, okay?! I know you think that you are saying something nice and wonderful and lovely, but it's a goddamn fucking lie. No, we don't look better without any make up on. That's the whole point of cosmetics! What you mean to say, is that you'd prefer make up that is tasteful and not immediately recognizable as such, over a crazy get up that makes us look like morons. You mean to say, that you prefer Gwyneth Paltrow over Amy Winehouse. You mean to say, that you'd prefer Natalie Portman over Snooki.
But let me tell you something: Natalie Portman (who I love dearly, don't get me wrong here!) probably wears a shitload of make up. Only you don't see it. You just see her flawless skin, her lovely pink lips and her endless eye lashes and go "Oh, that's a lovely, natural looking girl. She looks gorgeous. She doesn't need anything on her face!"
The thing is: Nobody on the planet looks like Natalie Portman when they get up in the morning. Not even Natalie Portman looks like Natalie Portman when she gets up in the morning. Because nobody is flawless and perfect without even trying (at least that's what I hope is the case...). We have zits and wrinkles and weird bright red spots that sometimes happen for no apparent reason at all. We think that we have eyes that are too small or lips that are too thin and because nobody sees these things more than we do when we look in a mirror, we use make up to make ourselves feel more beautiful. Or stronger. Or fiercer.
A lot of guys don't like make up that is clearly visible, they don't like red lips, they don't like cat eyes. "Girls look so much better without any make up!" is their way of saying that. To these guys I'd like to say: Shut up. Sit down. Nobody cares about your opinion on the matter. We don't do this to look nice for you. We do this to make ourselves feel awesome.
I recently overheard a few colleagues (one of whom has uttered the "Girls look better without make up" sentence in front of me, by the way) talk about a girl with quite heavy acne that had just passed us by. "Frankenstein" was amongst the nicer things they said about her. After I had put my exploding head back together and hissed at them for a little while, I realized that this is probably close to the center of the problem I have with the bullshit sentence about no make up: Men who say these things expect a flawless person. One that doesn't need make up. And if she does, she is supposed to sneakily pretend that she doesn't. To cover up her flaws in solitude. It's the same thing with Photoshop and plastic surgery: Demi Moore gets complimented on the fact that she still looks like 30, even though she's over 50. But Renée Zellweger gets slammed because it's visible that she had "work done".
You're supposed to be flawless but without any effort. And "Girls look so much better without any make up!" is rarely meant as a way of saying "Relax Girl, you look fine either way, don't stress out!" but instead a way of saying "You need to look like a goddess, but please, don't let me see the work you actually put into that!"
(the very lovely and very fitting picture above is taken from here)