Battles of the Rogue Grad Student – An Everyday Makeup Look

Greetings from the academic front lines fellow rogues!

Recently, I discovered another, wonderful beauty adventurer at Auxiliary Beauty. We got to chatting, and discovered that we are, in many respects, Antipodean Twins. Part of this naturally evolved into a discussion/rant about the battles that we face every day at university when academia and makeup clash (just try and get two grad students not to talk/complain about grad school, I dare you). Despite being in different faculties, despite being in different countries, the problem remains the same: how do you enjoy your love for makeup, while retaining the respect of your colleagues?

So! We decided to join forces in this battle, have a bit of a chat about it, and share a couple of things: the ‘look’ we feel we can get away with, and then what we’d like to wear if people wouldn’t dismiss us for it. πŸ˜€ You can head over to Auxiliary beauty for her perspective here – hope you find this interesting!

Right: straight up, here’s my dilemma:


Graduate Student Makeup Look

The many faces (well, eyes) of the academic rogue…some more wishful than others.


As you can see from this picture, my ambitions somewhat exceed what I feel is ‘allowed’ in my workplace. Now, this is the cruel joke of the university – although it’s technically completely open and free when it comes to expressing yourself, and although in many instances you may actually be *paying* to be there (which you would think would free you to wear whatever you damn well wanted)’s a bit of an illusion. The core problem here isn’t really so different to the issue experienced by women everywhere, as we confront the frustrating juxtaposition of ‘you should look perfect at all times’…’oh, but we shouldn’t be able to *see* you looking perfect’. However, being a female academic places an additional stress on the situation. Didn’t you know? You can’t like/wear makeup and be intelligent at the same time! And, don’t forget, the primary thing in academia is to make sure everyone knows how smart you are AT ALL TIMES.


Graduate Student Makeup Look

More angles of pretty blueness πŸ™‚ The everyday eyeshadow look of my dreams…complete with extremely changeable natural lighting…


Sarcasm aside, and as galling as it is to have to ‘prove’ your intellect to people with the emotional age of a primary school child, I don’t really want to turn this into too much of an angry rant. That’s pointless. We rogues have better, sneakier ways of getting around the issue, don’t we? While I will occasionally just go all out and wear some bold makeup (usually lipstick, because it’s easier to touch up and take off if you have to), most days I actually don’t have time in the morning for a full-on, scintillating eye makeup look. We don’t want to scare all the delicate professors either, now, do we?

There are many other, better discussions of sexism, misogyny, double standards and feminism, and I don’t pretend to be the voice of my gender. But is it too much to ask to be able to put on a bit of lipstick without worrying that you’re going to be passed over as a brainless waste of space whose only function is to distract the real academics from their work? If you’re all so smart, fellow (older, male – and female!) academics, please explain to me the research that indicates that my blue eyeshadow decreases both my brain capacity and function?


Revlon Colorburst Lacquer Balm in Demure Lip Swatch

This should be safe, right?


Alright, let me climb off my soapbox for a second, and we’ll take a look at some practical solutions for the besieged grad student beauty lover:

In the first picture above, for the ‘everyday look’ I am wearing precisely two products: Urban Decay’s eyeshadow in ‘Sin’ over the lid, and their 24/7 liner in ‘Demolition’ in the upper waterline. I’ve curled my lashes and am ready to go in under 2 minutes. It gives me a little bit of sparkle, and the curlers wake up my eyes, but isn’t overt or time-intensive. In the lip picture above, I’ve selected a recent ‘nude’ favourite, Revlon’s Lacquer Balm in Demure (review). Once again, it has a little colour and a bit of happy sparkle, but it’s not going to give any deans a heart attack. Alternatively, there is any of my arsenal of favourite sheer corals.

In the blue eyeshadow look, I’m wearing UD Haight over the lid, Sephora Pool Party in the crease and inner third, UD Money in the very inner corner and Bare Minerals Chameleon over the whole thing for a bit more sparkle. The same pattern (except for the Bare Minerals) is repeated on my lower lash line. It’s all topped off with some UD Chaos 24/7 liner and Clinique mascara (review here) on curled lashes. Did I mention I have a thing for blue eyeshadow?

So, what are the lips I’d like to be able to bust out whenever I wanted? Well, of course there are MUFE 15, MUFE 49 (for a purple kick), and EL Rich Red or Revlon Fire and Ice (for a punch of blood red), or how about EL Fuchsia Fever for a slash of pink? Don’t mind the violent themes here, I’m fine, really *twitch* πŸ˜› It’s no secret that I have a well stocked bandolier when it comes to bright lipsticks, but the one I’m currently busy looking for the right opportunity to wear is a new favourite (review coming soon!):


Graduate Student Makeup Look

Revlon, you and your balms…the balms for a bright lipstick lover’s soul, complete with incredibly appropriate names…


Obviously, I could circumvent the issue by just wearing no makeup at all. It’s not essential, my life doesn’t depend on it (although my career might, sadly). But that’s not the point – as liberal and intellectually sophisticated as many (if not most) academics like to think they are, they still fall short on this: I should be able to wear makeup *if I want to*, without anyone thinking less of me for it. Besides, I’d like to see all these highly skilled individuals blend four eyeshadows together with a pinky finger as your only tool… πŸ˜‰

Right, well, I feel I should draw things to a close here, lest I succumb to the temptation to go off on an all-daggers-drawn rogue-feminist rant! Obviously, the negatives I’m discussing aren’t universal – there are plenty of lovely, friendly, non-discriminating people at universities and everywhere, but of course they aren’t part of the problem! I hope you’ve found something interesting here – do you find it hard to wear the makeup you really want to at work/university? Is is just the way things are (uniform/rules), or is there just plain old discrimination going on? Don’t forget to hop on over to Auxiliary Beauty for her (frankly much more eloquent!) take on this issue! πŸ˜€


Until next time, fellow adventurers, don’t forget to check for traps!


I am an adventuring rogue, not a mercenary for hire, and as such, all opinions expressed here are my own, based on a genuine fondness for/interest in this product. If you have any queries, suggestions or requests, please do not hesitate to pin your parchment to the board (contact me) at thepaintedrogue [at] gmail [dot] com., or use the contact form provided! All material on the Painted Rogue, unless otherwise credited, is the property of said Painted Rogue, Sylirael, and may not be used without permission. If you do, I’ll send putrescent orcish teenagers after you. And they don’t spray with spraypaint, either.

72 thoughts on “Battles of the Rogue Grad Student – An Everyday Makeup Look

  1. Hey Syl, I hear ya! Depending on what you study, here in Belgium makeup also seems to be a bit of a tricky issue in the academics. I think girls in the law faculty often look immaculate, but everywhere else the all-natural thing is the trend. Back home in Taiwan things are better though. I think it’s because in general women pay more attention to makeup and stuff like that? I have no idea why not wearing any makeup has to be part of the criteria for a “serious” student. It’d be pretty wonderful if everyone could do what they want to without being judged! I for one, have no issue with people not wanting to wear any (and the opposite)!


    • That’s interesting! I’m not surprised that it’s a bit different in different countries – after all, makeup is as much of a cultural phenomenon as peoples’ attitude towards it. Still, I think the academics over here could learn a few things from their Taiwanese counterparts, perhaps! πŸ˜€

      That’s just the thing – I don’t mind if people *don’t* want to wear makeup, and I don’t mind if they want to go all out like it’s cosplay time at Armageddon (NZ’s ComicCon). I guess I just have a hard time seeing why others find it so difficult sometimes…you don’t have to *like* someone’s look, personally, but that’s quite different from taking it over to assume that it also makes them less worthy or intelligent…


  2. Back in science undergrad I remember certain comments (mostly from the Bros) disparaging female students for makeup looks and dressing a certain way. In postgrad, though, not so much — not saying that people doing PhDs are necessarily exempt from making misogynistic comments, but it’s less overt. At the same time, I don’t feel right going in with a full face of makeup because I’m just not surrounded by people who do! And when I do wear obvious colour makeup and people make comments (even positive ones!) I feel self conscious.


      • Hehe, true! Nails are really an area where you can get away with a bit more…until something in the lab takes them off, of course πŸ˜›


    • It’s hard not to feel self conscious when people are pointing at your face (even positively !) πŸ™‚

      I agree it would be easier if more people would wear makeup (only if they wanted to), because then I think it would seem more normal. And my ‘makeup’ I suppose I mean overt colour makeup, like red lipstick or blue eyeshadow (or colour/cosmetic of choice). I wouldn’t ever force anyone, but there seem to be so many of us kind of hiding it that I feel there’d be scope! πŸ˜€


  3. I am still an undergrad, but I think that I definitely tone-down the makeup for classes. However, because I’m in psychology I’ve found that people are a little less weird about makeup than they are in other places. This is probably due to the fact that there are more women present in this genre of study (one of my professors actually worked in fashion at one point, and she always looks FLAWLESS). But yeah, I do generally tone down the makeup… at least the eyes. I will give up my bright red/pink lipsticks over my dead body. In fact, once I went to class with very little makeup on and one girl lamented the loss of my bright red lips. I’ve also had women stop me and ask what lipstick I’m wearing. But then I think bright lipstick is more “acceptable” than bright eyeshadow, which is dumb as hell. *sighs forever*


    • First off: you should totally wear what you feel comfortable with πŸ™‚

      However, Captain Hindsight is muscling in here for a second πŸ˜› When I think about being an undergrad, there was so much freedom for self expression there, I can’t even. In a way I kind of wish that I had gone bolder then, so that by now people would be used to it. It wouldn’t stop the really terrible ones from discriminating, but at least I wouldn’t be facing both surprise and discrimination when I wear bright makeup…

      Like I said, though, wear what you feel is right πŸ™‚

      I know what you mean about eyeshadow – what is with that? Did Mimi from the Drew Carey Show ruin it for us all forever? πŸ˜‰


      • Yeah, I thought about it some more too, and I’ve noticed the grad students wearing makeup, but not much. So I imagine that there’s just more freedom when you’re an undergrad.
        And you’re probably right about Mimi. CURSE YOU MIMI! (though I’ll admit that I’ve always kind of loved her)


      • Haha, she was a great character πŸ™‚ I wonder, though, if things would be different if her character had looked the same, but had been written as smarter and nicer! πŸ˜›


  4. So there was this study… (and a link to it would be fabulous, but sadly, I don’t have that in my pocket) a bunch of academics and random people were shown pictures of people in academic settings and asked to choose which one they thought looked more intelligent. The choices were basically the “smoking jacket and patches professor” vs “scruffy hipster professor.” Overwhelmingly audiences chose the hipster professor because he stood out as an individual and that’s a sign of intelligence. However, the caveate is, if you go too far off into the fremd beat-of-my-own-kazoo category, people perceive you as just a wacko and not more intelligent.


    • My question would be: did they show this to people who were academics, or just members of the general public? This is why, sometimes, I feel like academics have their own special brand of discrimination when it comes to things related to ‘intellect’ . Perhaps it’s natural, because their careers depend on other people thinking that they are smart (whether or not this is actually the case)…

      I also read of a study (also sadly linkless :-() where they were examining how ‘mean’ people feel they have to become (or were perceived to have become) in order to be perceived as more intelligent as they were working their way up through the academic system. The results were rather depressing – in the US system at least, it was found that meanness (especially the kind where you;re *that* guy in the talk who asks all the snarky questions) was actually correlated with colleagues thinking that you were, on average more intelligent.

      A system that rewards this kind of thing will never do very well on issues like the ones we’re discussing, I fear! If you can snarkily put another (junior) academic down for their frivolous, hussy-esque makeup, then you can assert how much more ‘intelligent’ and ‘worthy’ you are, and hopefully weed out a bit of the competition for those rare and coveted academic positions… 😦


      • Ugh, this is my number one pet peeve about academia. Another grad student in my department once told me that she thought some people “earned the right to be assholes,” through intelligence or success or whatever. It’s astonishing how many people in academia, grad students and professors alike, believe this. Their thought process seems to go something like this: “Brilliant and successful people earn the right to be assholes. So if I’m an asshole, everyone will think I’m brilliant and successful.” Sadly, it sometimes works. And if it’s the professors who are self-absorbed and petty, their grad students will imitate them because they assume that’s the way to success. It’s all so depressing to watch.


      • ‘earned the right to be assholes’ – anyone who believes this needs an intervention of some kind! 😦 Or maybe backing away from, slowly. It really does make me sad what some grad students will turn into, enthusiastically, because they think it makes them ‘better’ academics…


      • *that* guy in the talk who asks all the snarky questions
        You know, it’s such a shame that people think that… and also proof that they’re not really listening to what “that guy” is asking. In almost every good conference fight I’ve witnessed, and also a number of talks with a dog-and-bone commenter, the commenter has COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT; vision clouded by their own fixed opinions. Asshats. It’s not intelligence, it’s just enjoyment of the sound of their own voice. People THINK it’s intelligence, because they can’t think of a question right then, and the asshat can, so they feel inferior. It’s all bullshit. *cough* Not that I’ve thought about this or anything…


      • *pats* it’s OK πŸ™‚ Honestly, I think the other people sometimes hate that guy as much as the speaker does. It’s not technically a way to make friends, that’s for sure…


  5. You’ve hit the nail on one of my pet peeves. I’m a grad student. Yes, I work in a lab. Now if someone would please explain to me why wearing green eyeliner is so detrimental to the axons in my brain, I’d be grateful.

    In college (where I study, at least) it’s very easy to distinguish science grads from other grad students. Science grads wear no makeup, or minimal at best. Other grads tend to experiment more. I hate the fact that what I choose to wear my face is what my intelligence is judged by (really, academia folks?). I end up wearing neutral shadows on my eyes and a tinted lip balm 9/10 times. If I’m feeling bolder I’ll wear a color gloss. I wish I could rock a fuchsia lip, though. Sigh.


    • ‘Yes, I work in a lab. Now if someone would please explain to me why wearing green eyeliner is so detrimental to the axons in my brain, I’d be grateful.’

      Someday, I will forget myself and actually say this to someone, and it will be the end of me πŸ˜› If there’s one thing academics of this type (actually*people* if this type) hate more than people experimenting and enjoying makeup, it’s having their bigotry pointed out to them…

      Give the fuchsia lip a go one day – if you feel like you need a shield, do it on your birthday πŸ™‚ They can hardly say not to the birthday girl, now, can they? And then, as Vanessa pointed out, the nice ones might start to appreciate your makeup adventures more and get used to seeing you in a very different look πŸ™‚


      • Man, I’d love to. Let’s just say I work in a lab where I’m the only female, and my professor has a VERY snarky tongue. I want to graduate so the fuchsia lip shall be worn at home, in secret!


      • Sometimes I fantasize about wearing a really obnoxiously bright lipstick that stains, and going up to anyone who disses me and giving them a big, stainy, lip-printy kiss on the cheek that they have to wear all day.

        I would never do this, but it amuses me πŸ˜‰


  6. I agree with this feminist rant. And your blue eyeshadow looks fabulous! And this made me laugh ruefully: “And, don’t forget, the primary thing in academia is to make sure everyone knows how smart you are AT ALL TIMES.”


    • I know, right? It’s kind of ridiculous in its own right, and it makes it that much harder when they’re criticizing you for enjoying something as frivolous as makeup. What is frivolous if not spending all your time wondering how you can make yourself *appear* smarter to your colleagues? Not make *yourself* smarter or better informed or MAYBE MORE ACCEPTING AND OPEN MINDED…

      argharghargh wargharbl….


      Thanks for the eyeshadow compliment! πŸ™‚


  7. I’m an anthropology student and a freelance makeup artist. Take that, societal expectations! I don’t have to listen to you when you tell me I have to choose between makeup or intellectual pursuits! Put a sock in it!

    That’s my two cents. πŸ™‚

    But seriously, I think there’s a great stigma against makeup in general. To society, it means we’re trying to hard, not trying hard enough, we want attention, we’re insecure, we’re vapid harlots, etc.

    It all seems to emphasize this idea that we wear makeup for others. But it never stops to ask if…maybe…just maybe…we wear it because we want to. Because it’s fun and it makes us happy.

    I think the sociologist in me could go on for hours about this topic. But for now I’ll limit it to this: our atiire and physical appearance (at least what we control) changes to suit the occasion. People have come to expect that we dress “normally” depending on the situation. I think makeup is included in this. I think there’s also the notion that makeup is reserved for special occasions.


    • ‘To society, it means we’re trying to hard, not trying hard enough, we want attention, we’re insecure, we’re vapid harlots’

      ‘maybe…just maybe…we wear it because we want to. Because it’s fun and it makes us happy’

      Sadly so true!

      The idea that a woman can only be doing something like wear makeup in order to make herself attractive to me is unfortunately still rather insidiously pervasive in society, or at least it seems to be. It goes along with all those subtle, horrible little things like ‘If a male boss reprimands an employee, he’s being stern but fair…if a female boss reprimands the same employee in exactly the same way, she’s being a bitch’…


      I think you’re right indeed that people’s expectations of makeup are kind of limited to certain ‘times’ or ‘occasions’. For me, however, makeup is for whenever – so long as it’s not actively preventing you from doing your job, you should be able to wear what you like.

      Obviously, things like time, budget and inclination all come into the mix. But I just want it to be *possible* for academics to respect you, regardless of your preferences and choices in eyeshadow…


  8. This is a touchy subject…

    I remember the first day I wore makeup to work. I was asked by a few of my colleagues “Why are you wearing makeup?”. Not “Wow, you look nice (or even different) today!”. Not “Are you going somewhere later tonight?”. Just plain “WHY” are you wearing it, like, why are you doing this to yourself. Like it is so wrong that I line my eyes with a BROWN eyeliner and lips with a SOFT PINK lipstick! I just can never understand the mentality in the academic environment.

    It was going on for a few days and I think I eventually told them to just mind their own business. LOL. I told them this is a personal thing and they should put their focus on their research, not my face, or what I put on my face. And that did it. They never bothered me again since. Haha.

    It’s a different story of course, when my professor noticed. It’s awkward, actually. These days, when I know that I’ll be in a meeting with him, I’ll just go easy on the makeup. Really easy, like a tinted lip balm and no eye makeup at all.

    It doesn’t make any sense but it’s true that they will judge you if you wear makeup. It’s as simple as that. Le sigh.

    I’d really like to see them blending eyeshadows with a pinky, too, haha!!

    Oh well, back to your makeup! LOL! Sorry got sidetracked! That shade of blue is stunning! I like the gradient effect, too! I have the UD Electric palette that I still haven’t had time to sit down and come up with a look for my post. Maybe I’ll do something similar to this! πŸ˜€


    • ‘These days, when I know that I’ll be in a meeting with him, I’ll just go easy on the makeup. Really easy, like a tinted lip balm and no eye makeup at all’

      Quoted for extreme truth πŸ˜€

      It does kind of become kind of fun to see how much makeup you can apply before your prof can actually notice it and disapprove πŸ˜› Like doing your upper waterlines and light mascara and watching them kind of squint at you to try and figure out what’s going on and whether they should disapprove or not, LOL!

      Thanks! ^_^ I’d love to see what you come up with with that UD Electric palette! If I know you, it’ll involve the usual Jaa Magic Awesomeness on the lower lash line at the very least! πŸ˜€


  9. The blue eye look is so lovely! I’ve been eying that UD chaos liner. Have you ever tried doing a cat eye or graphic eyeliner look with it? I’d love to see πŸ™‚

    Your work environment could be way different. But also, you could just test the waters for a few weeks to see if they get used to it? I work with academics, very very nerdy academics. Most people wear absolutely no make-up. However, some of my colleagues started wearing punchy lipstick. It garnered attention, but people calmed down after a short while and got used to it…. after they see that you’re just expressing your personal style, they just don’t care anymore. It was like a prof wearing a unique bow-tie.

    My impression is that people think that you’re self-absorbed and vain when you wear obvious make-up. I think the same goes for very trendy apparel or high heels. But they let down their guard and realize the truth pretty quickly…

    The only thing that I’ve heard consistent negative opinions about are belly / thong / bra straps showing. But that’s a whole different thing!


    • I haven’t tried doing graphic liner with Chaos yet…hm… πŸ˜€

      I have and do wear bright stuff – it’s less the fact that people might need to get used to seeing someone with a different look, and more that there are some people out there *cough*supervisor*cough* that just can’t seem to manage it, and won’t hesitate to say something open and offensive about it, even pointing out (nonexistent) flaws in your lipstick application like they’re doing you a favour. When they never wear lipstick themselves. It’s when it either becomes a reason to dismiss you, or a think that they think they can pretend to give you superior ‘advice’ on despite never doing themselves…


      I think you’re quite right that many people are just surprised, and will get used to it. But what about the people who only see you every so often but may have a significant effect on your career? What about the people you have to give talks to? They don’t have time to get used to anything, and can and do (only) go by their initial shallow, sexist judgement…

      Phew! Sorry, got mah rogue rage on there for a second ^_^


  10. Very interesting discussion, especially because I have no insight into the make up world or the stigma attached to it in an acdemic context, apart from Syl’s posts.

    What I do know is that universities can be a place where people practise what they preach, are good teachers, excellent communicators and don’t judge, however, it is also a depository for the socially akward, emotionally scarred and psychologically conspicious. I think the latter is the reason not only for unsolicited comments on how someone looks (be it make-up, fashion style, body adornments), but also for a plethora of other issues that plague academia everywhere.

    Anyhow, the blue really looks fantastic and I found this post to be a good read. I would suggest to discuss this and related topics in greater detail in future posts.


    • “it is also a depository for the socially akward, emotionally scarred and psychologically conspicious”
      Oh my goodness you’ve just described my research group. (Most people are perfectly normal but… there is the odd duck.)


      • Academia is rather a safe haven. And, you know, that’s great, in the sense that people with different ways of expressing themselves interpersonally have a place to thrive. Unfortunately, it also means that sometimes such individuals aren’t ever really forced to at least try not to be a total ass to the people around them…
        I’ve really heard people say the most appalling things, and no-one really calls them out on it. Least of all the grad students, who are beholden to practically everyone for either their funding, their existence in the group, or their future career chances. Sigh.


    • Thanks for the compliment on the blue ^_^. I love that sentence that brushandbullet quoted – it made me snort tea over my keyboard when I read it πŸ˜€ Mostly because it’s way too true…


    • it is also a depository for the socially akward, emotionally scarred and psychologically conspicious.
      ROFL you are so right.


  11. I am also a PhD student in the sciences, specifically chemistry. There aren’t to many other females in my department, but the ones that there are wear no makeup. I could tell you horror stories about a professors telling me “I like your lipstick” in a secluded room. Since then I have cut back on the amount of color I wear on my face.

    Unfortunately in academia there is so much pending on a few peoples opinion of you.


    • Your last sentence is (sadly) truer than I ever expected it to be. Grad school is truly a strange and rarified environment (that needs a window opening at some point, frankly). I love PhD Comics, but they’re so funny because they’re true, and..given what goes on, that’s actually kind of sad… πŸ˜›

      Love your blog name! ^_^ this rogue is an alchemist too!


  12. Well, you know how bold my eyemake-up always is, so it probably won’t come as a surprise that you that people tend to slightly ‘underestimate’ my intelligence… I’m not saying I’m a rocket scientist here (though my boyfriend is, so I actually do have a healthy interest in rocket science and the universe) but I’m not exactly an airhead either. I mean, in college I was always ‘the one with the make-up’ while all the other girls looked very au naturel, but I still graduated magna cum laude, so eff the idea that a love for make-up goes together with lower intelligence.
    In the end I think everyone should just wear the make-up they feel good in. It shouldn’t be seen as a reflection of our intelligence or talents. It should just be seen as a way of creative expression. Nothing more and nothing less.


    • Aww, I actually thought of you and the situation at your workplace the whole time I was writing this! It’s really terrible when people just ‘decide’ that you’re less anything just by your appearance. I mean, we all make little instant assumptions and judgements when we see other people (human nature I guess), but we still have the choice whether or not we act on those judgements, or take the time to find out if they were true first!


  13. 1. You are every bit as eloquent as I am, and your eyeshadow skills so far surpass mine it’s ridiculous. And your fingers are your only tool? I prostrate myself in awe.

    2. I’ve been hemming and hawing over Unapologetic (whose name I always remember as “Inauspicious,” for some reason?) for months now, but your photo has just about convinced me to go for it.


    • 1. Hehe, thanks πŸ˜‰ The fingers thing isn’t all that impressive – when its all you have, well, practice makes ‘as perfect as you can get’. πŸ˜›

      2. Unapologetic is funtabulous. Even if you never feel comfortable to wear it out of the house, it’s a great shade for brigthening up your whole outlook for a day at home! Or you can wear it out, and blind others with your pigmented awesomeness. πŸ˜€


  14. The blue eye makeup look is actually fabulous, but yeah, wearing it into the Psycho Factory would probably not be your best move.

    You know what I said to you about just not bothering with the fancy-pants makeup on meeting days – it’s not worth the effort when no-one will appreciate it, and (sad but true) less warpaint makes battle easier.

    I do have a theory, though, that if you want to start wearing more makeup into The Zone, you’ve got to ease ’em in slowly. Academics are easily startled, poor things, so if you just randomly turn up one day in bright red lipstick or a heavy eye look, of course the more socially maladjusted among them are going to ask why you resemble a refugee from Cirque du Soleil. Tact is not a priority, and they feel threatened by the fact that you have the balls to do it. Hell, they feel threatened by anything they can’t either feel superior to or reconcile with their own behaviour & opinions. Criticism = power. (A cheap shot, but as we’ve established, they’re not socially agile enough for anything else.)

    On the other hand, if you gradually turned up the colour/quantity, they would get used to it. All animals can be trained, LOL. For myself, you know I don’t wear a frakton of facepaint, but compared to the NOTHING I used to use, I’m much more adventurous these days. I started slowly, though, and now I can wear eyeliner (!!) and interesting shadows and coloured mascara and whatnot without people reacting badly. It’s “become me”, and they don’t question it.

    If you’re one of those people who went IN that way to start with (say, established Gothic or retro types), you’re even luckier, because that’s just you to begin with: it’s how they meet you. Doesn’t mean they won’t judge or make assumptions, because, well, people are shitheads. But you can then prove them wrong, so…

    As someone said above, however, where nails are concerned, all bets are off. It’s my party and imma smack anyone who disses my disco nails. Mmkay? πŸ™‚


    • LOL, Psycho Factory πŸ˜€

      Nails are indeed sacred. The last couple of days, for example, I have been wearing multiple coats of OPI Blush Hour and Rose of Light, on alternating nails. That is LOT OF GLITTER, and I’m proud of all of it. I taught two labs with it on πŸ˜€


    • I will certainly be diving in a bit more before I start my next job (heh, whenever that is!) – just so that I’s not such an uphill battle to get people used to it!


  15. This is an excellent rant, one that I’ve been meaning to write for a while, and I think you nailed it! I’m just going to link to you. πŸ™‚ I have wondered before how much of the academic anti-makeup stance I see is because I’m an engineering grad student, so my field is 90% men. I… guess I’m glad to hear it’s not limited to us? (No. No I am not.) We should start a club or something.

    Would you mind terribly if I took your idea (what I’d like to do/what I actually do) and posted something about it myself?


    • Thanks! Welcome to The Painted Rogue, Delphinia, I’m so gladsorry to hear you’re part of the club! πŸ˜€ I really feel you on the 90% men thing. Hehe, someone once said that it must be a good place to meet guys, to which I always reply with a quip my supervisor once shared: ‘the odds are good, but the goods are odd! πŸ˜›

      What can I say, I married an arts Wizard πŸ™‚

      You’re more than welcome to make such a post – please do! I’m looking forward to seeing what yo come up with πŸ™‚


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  17. With the prospect of an upcoming extended break from grad school, I exclaimed to my husband that I would get to read books for pleasure and wear my Lipstick Queen Red Sinner whenever I wanted. My parents are academics so I grew up in this world. I always contend that academia is still a medieval structure, with the two most radical challenges to the system being lectures delivered in vernacular languages and the admission of women. In grad school, I developed my “compromise lipstick” strategy. I will put a small dot of bold lipstick on my palm and mix it with a clear balm, then rub a bit on my lips. The results look like a bit of tinted lip balm, but I feel like I am sneaking bold lipstick onto campus.


    • Medieval is an excellent way to phrase it! Especially that whole weird ‘not quite a teacher-student, not quite a master-apprentice’ thing that you have with your advisor…

      I envy you those books for pleasure! And your stealth bold lipstick strategy is awesome πŸ˜€

      Welcome to the Painted Rouge, SC!


  18. Just remember rogues do their own thing and are rarely lawful πŸ™‚ In all seriousness, you should be able to wear just about anything as long as it’s done well and it’s normal-ish for daytime. Even the eye look you posted! Plus anyone who is going to question your int stats can suck it! I feel your pain, I’m just too old to care anymore!


    • I would care less myself if the people who are really obnoxious about it didn’t have direct control over my career progression :-S I could just tell hem all to suck it, but then I would have wasted an incredible amount of my time getting a phd. Sadly, sometimes even rogues are forced to take the stealth route when they don’t feel they should need to! You would think they’d appreciate the effort and skill that goes into nicely applied makeup (because it does take effort and the skill acquired through practice), but they can never really see further than their own rather bigoted nose…

      It would be nice to be the crusader that led the charge in favour of makeup acceptance in the academic world, but sadly, you might have more trouble rallying people to your cause than you think…


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  25. Whew! I’m so glad to see someone address this.

    I’m an experimental physics grad student. I use NASA lab facilities for my research. The atmosphere I work in is most definitely conservative.

    I cared once, but slowly my “don’t give a damn” has crept in. I do a good job, my research is sound, and people know I work hard. I figure I earn the right to wear whatever I want so long as it doesn’t increase my risk of getting caught on equipment and losing a finger or getting a 5kV electrical shock. When capable ladies quit bowing to the expectations of this dusty institution and prove the stereotypes wrong, we won’t need to worry about whether our eyeliner is too detectable. Don’t be scared! Ease them in, as someone above said, but suppressing parts of yourself isn’t doing you or anyone else any favors in the long run.

    Just my two cents, but my goal has always been to be so excellent that no one can even contest that my eyeliner has nothing to do with my academic performance.


    • You’re totally right about easing them in – the problem I usually run into is the amount of time I have to do it! Four years isn’t long enough for some, and I wish this were not the case πŸ˜› I want the general attitude to change, without me having to ‘earn’ the right to wear my makeup. You are correct that one’s academic performance should (hopefully) quell anyone’s doubts – but it shouldn’t really have to!

      Welcome to the Painted Rogue! πŸ˜€ high fives for physics!


  26. I absolutely loved this post… I wrote a few comments on two other posts on the topic, one by Auxiliary Beauty herself, but just to reiterate: I used to feel like liking makeup and caring about other things was mutually exclusive and I didn’t know why I felt that way. I felt sort of ashamed, I guess?, that I liked makeup because “smart, cool girls” don’t care about such frivolity. Thank the lawwwwd I was wrong and that I found the light because I love me my eyeshadow, and I don’t care what people think about it. ❀


    • Argh, I thought I successfully replied to this, but apparently not! Never trust a mobile device… πŸ˜›

      I’m glad you liked the post! πŸ™‚ I’m also glad that you found the light, and love your makeup for the awesomeness that it is ^_^ Now we’ve just got to get all the naysayers on board…


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  28. Hi Syl,

    I love this post so much. It really addresses an issue that is seldom discussed in academia– other than perhaps behind closed doors when one might be getting harshly judged for wearing makeup (or perhaps the perception that one is wearing excessive makeup). My experiences as a former grad student, and as a professor at a research institution definitely supports your theory. I think that grad students aren’t deemed very serious or cut from some rarified intellectual cloth if they spend time thinking about their own personal appearance too much. Makeup should appear effortless and fresh rather than deliberate and overdone in order not to be perceived as perhaps shallow and intellectually inferior– or something equally silly along these lines. When I was getting my M.A. I didn’t notice the type of scrutiny that I saw when I was getting my Ph.D. I suppose the presumption is, at least in a research institution, that few of the M.A. students will go on to get their Ph.D.s and they are taken a whole lot less seriously. However, the level of scrutiny that occurs at the Ph.D. level (or with any terminal degree) was a whole different thing since as a Ph.D. student one is the progeny of their advisor in perpetuity. This seems to breed a whole different level of judgement about personal and aesthetic decorum that has absolutely NOTHING to do with scholarly ability. Few of the grad students that I saw wore much makeup, and probably mostly because they were too busy to add another step to their already very long days on campus (or perhaps because they feared that they would be deemed shallow and not at all serious about academia).

    What I find interesting is that from the vantage point of being a professor that little appears to have changed. I should probably preface this by stating that teaching at a big research university in Southern California seems to lend itself to particularly relaxed fashions and dress, and few people wear much makeup– and when someone does wear a full-face or heavy eye makeup it really stands out. That said, on the first day of the last quarter I walked into my department before running off to teach in order to check my mailbox and to say hi to some of my friends in the department, and a good friend looked at me and exclaimed, “wow, you are so dressed up today!” I was wearing casual capri pants, a t-shirt, and some wedges– hardly what I would call fancy attire. However, I was wearing a winged eye liner (not even with a very severe flick) and a nude lipstick (Tom Ford Nude Vanilla, to be exact– which is hardly a loud shade). Yet, the perception was that I was super dressed up and done up! My friend who made the comment wasn’t making a disparaging comment– she was just making an observation, and she did say that I looked nice. But the point was more that it was out of the ordinary. Of course she has seen me on campus plenty of times when I am not teaching and am instead wearing sweats, t-shirts and little more than lip balm.

    I have always felt that these judgments are rooted in the idea that one who contemplates erudite subjects is somehow expected to lead a kind of monastic life, and that one should only be concerned about contemplating lofty things. This idea seems to suggest that there is some sort of unspoken canonical law that prevents people from engaging in any sort of personal hygiene or grooming habits that result in looking made up in any way– out of some sort of fear that the time wasted putting on makeup and engaging in needless acts of vanity are shallow and ill-suited to an intellectual life in academia. I don’t think that it is at all fair, but you and I both know that if a grad student isn’t deemed serious– then they won’t get support or funding. I think that people should be judged solely for their work, and not whether their lipstick might be too bright for their leather-patch clad faculty members who fail to understand that playing with makeup is a fun and creative form of self-expression! πŸ™‚ xoxo


    • Whee! Thanks for your awesome post, especially adding your professorial perspective! πŸ˜€

      I, too, wish that people (ESPECIALLY WOMEN IN THE SCIENCES *COUGH*) could just be judged on their work and actual attitude as opposed to their clothes or makeup – it strikes me that in an area so concerned (as you point out) with that ‘lofty, monastic’ ideal, the people who consider themselves part of it actually seem to spend an awful *lot* of time thinking about clothes/makeup/hair, even if it’s the stuff *other* people are wearing… πŸ˜‰

      The funny thing is, even where I live, really heavy makeup on anyone will get noticed (although ‘normal’ people – heh – might have the good manners just not to say anything if they don’t like it/approve), but the things you get pinged for as a PhD student are kind of extreme! I may want to wear that super bright eye, but even the subtle one gets ‘noticed’. I tend to find you can get away with more in the lipstick department!

      Now I wish my university had a ‘Lipstick Department’ – pretty sure I could get tenure there no problem! πŸ˜‰


      • Thank you for your very kind words, Syl. ❀

        I imagine that it is bad in the Sciences, but the Humanities probably aren't a lot better. I just think that lofty institutions promote lofty living, and that there is no room for pursuits deemed shallow or pointless by those who sit in judgment. Why anyone should care what someone else is wearing is beyond me, and frankly one would think that intellectual institutions– which purport to be liberal-minded– wouldn't care about bright lipsticks or eye makeup. It makes no sense whatsoever. I doubt that any of the faculty members who judge such things would be hard-pressed to find a grad student who cared more about her tube of lipstick than her dissertation! They just make assumptions based upon what they deem worthy pursuits, and what they don't.

        Ah, a Lipstick Department sounds fab! πŸ™‚


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