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I suppose I should say something or other about feminism and the tyranny of idealized Beauty in Western society, but a big part of trying to be feminist in my writing is to present women as individuals who may interact with their femininity in different ways, rather than as a single monolithic voting bloc.

Max is a tomboy - so much so that in her very first appearance, she is mistaken for a young man. It should be noted, however, that this is not a deliberate choice on Max's part - at no point does she intentionally dress as male or put on men's clothing. Indeed, if you were to put something distinctively male like a fedora or a necktie on her, it would only stand out and serve to reinforce her femininity, in much the same way that she'd look silly and out-of-place in an evening gown and heels. Max simply is.

And Max called up Carol and initiated this makeover not because she thinks you need to put on mascara and lipstick to attract boys - she certainly doesn't - but because she honestly believes she's helping her friend. Max was concerned that, left to her own devices, Gina's Schroedinger date would not be a date, and Max wants her friend to be in a relationship, if only as a precursor to getting laid.

Being poly means never having to ship just one OTP.

Carol, in contrast, views things like shaved legs as inherent and essential to femininity, and femininity as essential to self-concept and self-esteem. (Whether this is a reaction to living life as a marred version of her sister and defining herself in opposition to Cheryl is a question for the armchair psychiatrists.) Carol views this makeover as empowering, a means of boosting up someone who is clearly nervous by making her beautiful and therefore stronger, bolder, and happier.

Carol would likely disagree with the notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - to her, beauty is in the eye of the beautiful. Her command over her appearance allows her to dominate the attention of others, and though she likes to be romantically pursued, rather than act as pursuer, she still views herself as the party in control of that type of interaction.

(While I have no love for the concept of "butch" vs "lipstick" lesbians, it should be clear which Carol is in her relationship with Max. Whether or not Max views it that way is another matter.)

Gina is not a tomboy, nor is she a lipstick anything.

She dresses modestly, but in decidedly female clothing. Although she has no intention of showing off cleavage or inflaming lust, it would be very hard to mistake her as male - her hair alone takes care of that.

I think it's obvious that Gina had thought she looked fine. After all, this is Sunday afternoon - that purple turtleneck is what Gina wore to church just a few hours ago. Despite Carol and Max's cheerleading, Gina here is like a bear on a unicycle: the audience may be oohing and ahhing, but the whole enterprise is unnatural and unbearlike.

tl;dr - women are different people, and facial pigments are neither inherently empowering nor inherently limiting.

(Sunday afternoon, INT: GU's room)

CA: Well, I've done all I can do. You're as ready as you're going to be.
MH: Do you feel pretty? Oh so pretty? Do you feel pretty and witty and gay? Do you pity all the fools who are not you today?
GU: I feel nervous. I'm more nervous now than I was before.
MH: Gina? Repeat after me. "I am hot. Men who are attracted to women will be attracted to me."
GU: I am hot. Men who are attracted to women will be attracted to me.
MH: "I'm smart, I'm talented, I'm strong, and I deserve love in my life."
GU: I'm smart, I'm talented, I'm strong, and I deserve love in my life.
MH: "I deserve big hard cocks, vigorously thrust into me at their owners' earliest convenience."
GU: Max? Go home.
[doorbell noise from offpanel]
GU: Leave out the back door.