A Full Face Beat Down: Makeup, Wrestling and Mansplaining

Behind the scenes of Wrestlemanias past

Ah, to be Twitter’s Main Character of the Day. It certainly looks to be a wild ride, usually with unpredictable results. More often than not, it never bodes well for the one whom the Algorithm Gods deem as the social media sacrifice du jour; they typically had it coming by posting something that should have been deleted from their drafts and their minds.

Enter, the purveyors of trash reporting and shlock in Wrestling Twitter. To Aaron Rift, there is no such thing as bad publicity, so long as it leads to clicks and lines his pockets. Lifting a line from one Eric Bishoff, controversy creates cash, right? No such thing as dirty money in a capitalist driven society. As usual, they came through as expected this week by posting an op/ed discussing, of all things, the liberal use of makeup on the women of WWE and AEW; how it’s a leftover staple of Vince McMahon’s oft misogynistic chokehold on professional wrestling. Of all the issues that women in wrestling and in life face, they chose the most inconsequential one to tackle. And of course, to no one’s surprise, it’s an op/ed posted by a man since the site seems to have absolutely no female representation of any kind. It has since then been pulled. 

By and large, I can ignore literally anything they post. But given the activity and quote tweets the original post was gaining, curiosity got the better of me and I gave in. Hey, we all have our moments of weakness, never said I was perfect.

Now to the writers’ credit (and he gets the littlest bit here), he made points in addressing the rampant misogyny and sexism in Vince McMahon’s WWE. A lot of his treatment of the women who came into WWE (pre and post company name change) were subject to his and Kevin Dunn’s demands on what the standard for women in the ring should embody. We’ve all heard the story of Bucky Beaver’s regard for women. We’ve seen Vince’s manipulative, predatory ways exposed. 

Makeup has absolutely fuck all to do with this.

The art of makeup has a storied history that goes beyond cosmetic when it comes to theatrical productions. Until 1661, it was illegal for women to act in plays, so men played male and female roles. Guess what they wore on their face so their expressions could be better detected from the back of the house? Let’s fast forward to the advent of motion pictures and television. There is a reason makeup departments exist: when you’re lit up and being recorded from multiple angles, your features can risk getting washed out in the final product. Every actor and actress you’ve ever seen on a screen has multiple layers of makeup on, blatant or not.

Wrestling is athletics, but it is also acting. They’re telling a story in that ring, right? Unless you’re ringside or lower levels, it can be nearly impossible to determine a wrestler’s facial expressions from a distance. Makeup on the women is actually incredibly necessary. This is part of their character, costume and act. This has literally nothing to do with insecurities or natural beauty. They spend hours putting these looks together as part of their dedication to their craft. Scarlett Harris posted a wonderful piece a few years ago of just how deep the meaning can go for some wrestlers when it comes to makeup, from creating a persona to advocacy to a statement of heritage. Educate yourself and read it. 

Beyond that, some women simply like wearing makeup. It’s art! It’s fun! We can literally change our entire look with just some contouring and blush. If they know color theory, they can use that to actually create an entire mood with just eyeshadow. Life is rough, it’s stressful, it can wear you down. Why wouldn’t someone want to inject some life into it with some well placed pigments on their face?

Posting a piece about how unnecessary it is, how passé a look is, their eyeshadow is too heavy, it’s all just gonna sweat off anyway so why wear it (as though makeup setting spray doesn’t exist) – it’s all a smack to the face. It’s rude. It diminishes the effort put into everything because you decided it didn’t serve you when it wasn’t for you to begin with. From the time we’re kids, we are being told what to do, what not to do, how to dress, how to act, what we’re supposed to and not supposed to like, how to act. Women’s entire lives get dictated to them, regardless of what we do. So why would we want to hear from literally anyone that they don’t like our makeup? Especially when at least half the time, when you think we’re not wearing any, we actually are and when we don’t, we get asked if we’re sick or get ridiculed or told that we’re lazy and have no self respect. 

We seemingly cannot win, so we’re gonna do us anyway and be happy. So maybe next time you decide you want to pipe in with your opinion that we weren’t seeking, take some advice from The Rock: shine it up real nice, turn it sideways, and shove it up your candy ass. 

And pass me the highlighter palette. I need my cheekbones poppin’.