rabbitwrite.com has declared this No Makeup Week, and I’m hurling in my two cents:
Because I dropped out of school after 5th grade, I dodged a lot of cosmetic peer pressure. But at 14, I asked my mother for makeup. She suggested an Almay pressed powder and clear mascara. Both were practically invisible, but I believed everyone at church noticed the change. I still have the Almay compact, now filled with guitar picks.
Mascara was initially disappointing; it gave my lashes color, but made my eyes seem smaller and less blue. I’m not wearing it in most of my teenage photos, not even for holidays or weddings.
In 2002 or 2003, many girls wore shimmery, pale eyeliner. I had a chubby pink eyeliner pencil; my best friend Greyloon used white, and her little sister wore pale yellow.
I was 15 when I first thought I NEEDED makeup; I was going to see Aardvark, the man of my dreams. That night, the 6’3″ Aardvark told me his weight was “one hundred twenty-something.” I couldn’t bear weighing more than a full-grown man, so I started eating less and weighing myself six times a day. Luckily, he kicked me to the curb before I became truly anorexic. Hellooooo, silver lining!
(Years later, Grackle heard this story and said “Full grown man?! He was 17 and underweight!”)
Where was I? Ah yes, makeup.
I discovered lipstick in 2004 when my first college boyfriend (“Crumble”) bragged that his lips were rosier than mine. He was right:
Afraid to be out-prettied by my boyfriend (why was I still comparing myself to guys?), I bought two lipsticks. One was a flop, the other was “Flower Child” from Jane. I still have a smidgen, and it’s still the best shade I’ve found.
One summer at a girls’ camp, I noticed that most girls’ eyebrows are only half visible from across a room. Eyebrow pencil soon followed.
This is my naked face:
I took about fifty shots, and every one made my heart sink. I haven’t quite come to terms with the grand canyon between who I am inside and what the world sees.
I wear makeup half the time to feel somewhat prettier and touch up my skin. I deliberately DON’T wear makeup half the time because I don’t want anyone to mistake the paint job for my real face and start seeing my unadorned self as “not good enough.”
On makeup-wearing days, I use mascara and brow pencil to make my brows/lashes more obvious, and some combination of powder/tinted moisturizer/concealer to hide blemishes and tone down my pinkish skin. To go whole hog, I might use brown eyeshadow as eyeliner and wear lip color. Haven’t experimented with blush yet, and foundation looks too tricky for me.
On one hand, I resent seeing women pushed to wear makeup or doll themselves up for public consumption.
On the OTHER hand… I predict that human beings will ALWAYS care about appearances to some degree. As long as humans are judging each other by looks, I’m glad to live in a time and place where it’s socially acceptable to alter one’s appearance in dozens of ways.
I’m reminded of chapter 10 in Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl, in which Tom is disgusted to learn that his fiance “paints” — golly, what do you bet he’ll fall for the demure, self-effacing Old Fashioned Girl instead? How lucky that she’s “fresh-faced” and “pretty” with “pretty brown curls!”After all, if she weren’t attractive, would Tom even care about her old-fashioned virtues?
Yep yep yep. Makeup is a good toy and a bad master. With or without makeup, I’m grateful to live here and now. Make yourself a snack and check out all the thoughtful, bare-faced women discussing makeup at rabbitwrite.com.
How do you feel about makeup, ladies? What about you, gents?