4 min Read

Is “Labour Makeup” Really a Thing?

Woman with labour makeup holding newborn

Celebrities and influencers are dragging their beauty teams to the delivery room. Makeup artists are recommending “labour-proof” products. But we have to ask, is labour makeup going too far? 

As a long-time parenting writer-editor and mom of two, I thought I’d seen it all. Or, if not all, enough that nothing shocks me or makes me shake my head in disbelief anymore. As a result, I thought I was pretty firmly rooted in the “you do you” camp when it comes to how other people parent. (Imagine that was actually a summer camp? You go and do whatever you want for a week, and everyone leaves you alone. I would sign up for that. But I digress.)

I couldn’t care less about how you feed your baby, what extracurriculars your kids do, how well they go to bed, what their report card looks like…as far as I’m concerned, if you’re raising good humans who are kind to other people, I only have the energy to care about the clowns in my own circus. But this week, my youngest sister, Sarah—who is expecting her first baby—sent me a TikTok video about birthing makeup and asked me if this was “a thing.”

Her: “Is this something I need to worry about?”

Me: “What fresh hell is that?”

Upon digging into this term, I learned that there is a trend where women are essentially labour-proofing their faces to look pretty in their birth photography and post-delivery shots. Makeup artists are making recommendations for products that will withstand the most intense pain I’ve ever felt, personally. Pseudo-celebrity Heidi Montag (remember The Hills?) brought her “glam squad” to the birthing unit. Influencers galore are posting their delivery-room beauty lewks. In one article I read, a TikTok-er “refused” to give birth until her makeup was done.

Okay. Phew. Deep breath.

Now, before the “she can do what she wants” trolls come out, I know that every woman is entitled to make her own choices about what she does or doesn’t do with her body. And if putting on a face full of makeup to push a five-to-nine-pound baby out of your body is something you need, I’m not going to be the one to stop you. I am a person who understands that feeling put-together can impact your productivity, which I suppose extends to delivering a human. But, friends, I gotta tell you—I think this trend is a slippery slope.

Because, to me, this isn’t just about feeling your best. It’s about thinking that women are required to look a certain way during arguably one of the most vulnerable moments of anyone’s life. We didn’t just become women who intrinsically think that—we were taught that. Whether this is a by-product of social media, needing to appear that everything is picture-perfect, or just another layer added to the pressure we put on women to maintain impossible beauty standards, I don’t know. But to think that anyone looks at pictures of celebs with camera-ready labour makeup, or reads roundups of “delivery-room products that won’t fail,” and wonders if it’s something they truly need to worry about…I’m at a loss for words. And that almost never happens.

I remember watching Prince William and a fresh-faced Kate Middleton leaving the hospital with baby Prince George and thinking that I would never, ever trade places with the Duchess. The burden that comes with the indentured servitude of the royal family to keep up appearances must be crippling. And that was seven hours after the baby’s arrival! (Still appalling, but at least the woman wasn’t having her face spackled while still in stirrups.)

Maybe I’m body-shaming (makeup shaming?). Maybe I’m veering too far away from my live-and-let-live mantra. But I have daughters, and I cannot stand the idea that they could think one day that this unbelievable notion is worth even a moment’s consideration. I look so incredibly happy in the first pictures of me and my oldest daughter (and almost naked, which is why I can’t include them here); whether or not I look beautiful doesn’t even cross my mind when I look at them. Because it’s the first picture of her and me, and that is way, way more than enough.

Parents-to-be (including Sarah, who is going to make me an aunt for the fourth time), you are enough. And don’t let anyone coming at you with concealer and false eyelashes (figuratively or literally) tell you any different.

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