Partners Swap Makeup Routines for Genius ‘MADE UP’ Project

by Hallie Marks


Fantastic campaign alert! Stop what you’re doing and look at these photos from the MADE UP Experiment.

Makeup is a HUGE part of gender performance – it’s tied to femininity like blonde on a Barbie. We’re taught to follow certain customs in order to be read as feminine, while men are taught to perform masculinity.  These rigid gender roles limit self-expression and individuality, and lots of people are fed up with that.

MADE UP is showing how the performance of gender is just that – a performance. It sheds light on makeup’s role in these social constructions by photographing couples with swapped makeup routines.

The first set of portraits is taken of each couple in their typical date-ready makeup (or lack thereof). A second set of portraits is then taken after they have washed their faces and done their daily makeup routines on each other.


The couples’ responses to the experience are also documented, which MADE UP says provides “insight into how these idealized concepts of gender and beauty affect relationships.” For example:

This experiment forces both subjects and viewers to examine ideas of beauty and gender roles as well as expressions of masculinity and femininity in their everyday lives. Not all the couples are male/female, but they all feature two people with very different ways of presenting their gender.



Many of the regular make-up wearers seemed to feel very uncomfortable and uneasy without makeup on, which raises points about how many women feel uncomfortable with their bare faces, even around their partners. Of course makeup can be a healthy form of self-expression, but it’s worth noting that the women who said they couldn’t leave their house or be around their friends without make up were made to ponder why that was.



The MADE UP campaign does a great job of exposing the social constructions of gender in our society by highlighting the very different standards for gender expectations and proving that many women are expected, by themselves and others, to look a certain way that doesn’t exist naturally. Fascinating stuff. Check out the full set at

This post was published on June 18, 2013 

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