May 25, 2024

Crying Makeup Is Trending – Here’s Why That’s Problematic

I’m not a pretty crier. But, according to a worrying new movement that is going viral on TikTok, I should be.

“Crying makeup,” which to date has over 130 million views, encourages you to look like you’re vulnerable and on the verge of tears because it claims to make you appear more attractive. One clip, which has over 500 thousand likes, is directed at the “unstable girlies” and shows how to achieve a sorrowful look by using lip liner and gloss for puffy lips, liquid glitter eyeshadow to make eyes look teary and blusher to redden the nose, eyes and cheeks.

Given mental health among Gen Z is at an all-time low and depressive episodes for this demographic have doubled between 2008 and 2019, the idea of romanticising breakdowns or making the visible signs of not coping sexy on social media seems macabre – if not outright dangerous.

Noor Mubarak, a psychological wellbeing practitioner at the Private Therapy Clinic agrees that the crying makeup trend can be problematic. “The ‘sad girl’ aesthetic has been around for almost 10 years, so the idea of aestheticising female sadness isn’t new,» Noor says. «But for those who are struggling with feelings of despair and tearfulness, it can feel trivialising to see people trying to look like they are struggling for aesthetic purposes.

“It’s even possible that trends like crying makeup could contribute to the stigma attached to mental ill health or the belief that young women struggling with low mood may be acting or exaggerating their feelings,” she continues. «This is particularly worrying as stigma, and fear about not being believed, are some of the most frequently reported barriers preventing people from reaching out for support. »

My criticism isn’t that crying makeup is an accurate depiction of grief; on the contrary, the beauty influencers on TikTok don’t look anything like me after an IRL weep. With their flushed cheeks, glossy eyelids and rosy lips, it’s all very The Virgin Suicides – sad, ethereal and impossibly perfect post-cry.  I don’t know about you, but when I sob, there’s so much snot and ugliness; I have runny mascara, swollen eyelids and blotchy skin that looks so crumpled it resembles a deflated party balloon.

This misrepresentation of what a woman really looks like when she cries fuels the same unrealistic movie tropes that have been pedalled to women for decades. Pretty crying is a staple in Hollywood, with the downtrodden heroine daintily wiping away a single, glistening tear that rolls gently onto the curve of her cheek. The implied message is simple: suppress your real rage or hurt because even in the throws of grief, your eyeliner needs to stay on point.

As ever, not only are women’s bodies a political battleground, but so are our tears. And that dubious pressure to still look good when you’re feeling depressed or despairing could be a dangerous trigger for those truly feeling vulnerable.

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