Selected Poems

5 Beautiful Poems About Makeup That Make Us Think

Last Updated: January 29, 2023

Makeup is a form of art that women throughout history have learned and mastered. Women doesn’t wear makeup because they’re insecure, they wear it to enhance their natural beauty. In my opinion, makeup doesn’t take away the real beauty of a woman but rather magnifies it.

In today article, we’re going to look at some poems about makeup, a huge part of any woman’s life. Let’s see how the poets think about the matter.

1. Makeup by Dora Malech

strip us to the underside of skin.
Even the earth claims color
once a year, dressed in red leaves
as the trees play Grieving.

Makeup explores the idea of makeup and its significance in society. The speaker reflects on their mother’s belief that women who don’t wear makeup are hiding something and the way in which makeup can make the dead look alive and the living more vibrant. The speaker touches on the idea of the self and how makeup can be used to enhance or hide one’s true self and how beauty is fleeting and ultimately superficial.

The poem also discusses the social pressure and expectations that women must meet in order to be considered beautiful. Dora Malech presents the use of the image as a means of hiding one’s true self and expresses a sense of longing for authenticity and acceptance of one’s true self.

2. Her Makeup Face by Garrett Hongo

she did not scowl but smiled, her tyrannous visage
made plain, beatific without blemish of pain or artifice.

Her Makeup Face describes a woman who spends time at her vanity putting on makeup before going to work at a City Hall job. The speaker reflects on the years she spent doing this, and wonders how long this was her life. The poem also depicts the woman’s last days in a care center, where she speaks in pidgin and is content with her memories of living in Hawaii. The woman’s demeanor changed in her later years, as her “tyrannous visage” became “plain, beatific without blemish of pain or artifice.”

Her Makeup Face also touches on the theme of cultural identity when it describes the contrast between the woman’s mundane, city life and her fond memories of a tropical home in Hawaii, with imagery of flowers and the scent of the sea. It discusses aging and the passing of time, as the woman’s memories and language become more pronounced in her later years. Despite having a complex and multifaceted life, the woman becomes less concerned with societal expectations and more focused on her true self as she ages and near the end of her life.

3. Putting on My Face by Tada Chimako

Farewell, unfamiliar adolescent in the mirror
Until that boyish dawn one step this side of man

Putting on My Face depicts the act of applying makeup, but with a twist. Instead of using makeup to present a certain image of oneself to the world, the speaker of the poem uses makeup to transform into an adolescent boy. The poem suggests that the speaker is not satisfied with their current identity and wants to explore different aspects of themselves.

Tada Chimako also illustrates the speaker’s newfound freedom and empowerment as a result of this transformation, their ability to transform into a different gender allows them to escape societal expectations and limitations. Overall, Putting on My Face looks into the concept of using makeup as a tool for self-expression and exploration of identity.

4. Makeup on Empty Space by Anne Waldman

I am putting makeup on empty space
all patinas convening on empty space

Makeup on Empty Space is a reflection of the power of imagination and the act of creating. The speaker is putting makeup on empty spaces, using various materials and techniques to create something out of nothing. Anne Waldman mentions binding and magnetizing various objects and concepts, suggesting a sense of control over the world. The poem discusses impermanence, as the speaker acknowledges that everything will eventually crumble and disappear.

The repeated mentions of empty space suggest a sense of emptiness and potentiality, which the speaker is trying to fill with their creations. Overall, Makeup on Empty Space is a meditation on the creative process and the power of imagination to shape the world.

5. The Lady’s Dressing Room by Jonathan Swift

And bless his ravished sight to see
Such order from confusion sprung,
Such gaudy tulips raised from dung.

Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical poem titled The Lady’s Dressing Room in 1732. The poem is written from the perspective of a man who has accidentally stumbled upon a lady’s dressing room and is horrified by the mess and clutter he finds there. The speaker of the poem is shocked and repulsed by the sight of the lady’s toilette items, the number of empty pots of cosmetics and the amount of hair and other debris on the floor. He also notes that the lady spends hours in front of the mirror, ‘painting, patching, powdering’, and is never satisfied with their appearance.

Ultimately, The Lady’s Dressing Room is a powerful commentary on the societal pressure placed on women to conform to a certain standard of beauty. Through his use of vivid imagery and clever wordplay, Jonathan Swift exposes the absurdity of these expectations and calls for a more realistic and accepting view of women. It is also a reminder for us to be more understanding and accepting of the reality of people, rather than subscribing to the beauty myths that society has imposed on us.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, these five poems about makeup highlight the various ways in which it can be viewed and used. From the societal pressure to conform to beauty standards, to the empowerment and self-expression that it can bring, these poems remind us that makeup is a complex and multifaceted topic. It is important to remember that each person’s relationship with makeup is unique and personal, and that everyone should feel free to use it in a way that feels authentic and true to themselves.

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