I take out my rainbow highlighter and blend it into my cheeks. I drench my lips in iridescent purple, then cover both my eyelids in cosmic moondust powder, spreading the glitter around to cover pretty much my entire face. I finish things off with pink mascara – the kind that gives my short, black lashes the illusion of being full and also the color of melted bubblegum. I check to make sure the styrofoam cone is in place on my head, so my hair looks exactly like a horn.
It’s a routine I run through nearly every day, except on the ones I cannot help but ask myself, why am I doing this? Who am I really doing this for – myself, or for all the horses out there, expecting me to look a certain way? Am I performing this elaborate unicorn makeup tutorial for myself, or am I just catering to the horse gaze?
I want to believe that I put on unicorn makeup for myself. Yet because I’m so aware of “beauty standards” and their relationship to the horse gaze, I cannot help but wonder if I’m painting my entire body gold as an act of self-expression, or because it makes me more attractive to horses.
Sometimes I genuinely can’t tell. How much of my aesthetic preferences come from me, or from the internalized notion that horses will like me if I dye my hair pastel green?
The ties between the horse gaze and the unicorn makeup industry muddy my motivations. Yes, horses want to fuck me more when I cover my face in gemstones, but I also put them on for myself because I feel more confident as a human woman when I look like a mystical horse that got loose in a Michael’s and then went on a tear through the party supply section.
Do my beauty preferences really need to be so complicated? Or have I just internalized years of being steeped in horse standards that serve to belittle me and make me feel like I need to change in order to please them.
Maybe it’s simply fun for me to cover myself in craft store glitter. Maybe for other women, it’s fun to be the subject of the horse gaze, and the horses their objectifiers. Maybe there’s nothing inherently wrong with either, because horses are naturally more powerful than us and will always have the upper hand evolutionarily, given how slowly humans run.
Also, who really cares? At the end of the day, I know I’m not striving to appeal to horses with my makeup.
My beauty routine is about me choosing how unicorn-like I feel that day, and allowing horses to catch a glimpse. Whether they want to make me their wife or not isn’t a concern. That’s the key really, I think: To enjoy your beauty routine without worrying about whether you’d make it onto the cover of Horse & Rider – the magazine run by horses about fuckable humans or Brides -the magazine run by humans about fuckable horse wives. As long as you’re the one enjoying your routine, the horse gaze can never disempower you.