I wouldn’t call myself a “girly girl” (I’m sure feminists would love a diatribe on the phrase alone), but I love makeup. I’m not a shopper, couldn’t care less about purses or shoes, but I’ve always looked at my face as a canvas I can perfect upon. I have always firmly believed everyone looks better with makeup and I never leave the house without it – and if I do, I am very insecure about it.
I grew up studying my mother apply makeup in the mirror. She wore a full face whenever she stepped outside the house. I watched her putting on mascara, mouth agape, carefully applying layer after layer on her long black lashes and then using a needle to separate her newly created sticky creations. In junior high school, I quickly learned from the girls who used their lunch hours to meticulously fix their eyeliner (blue, green, purple was in style) and mascara (many coats of any color) and touch up their dark brown lined, frosted pink lips. Thank you for your cosmetics inspiration, 1986.
Throughout my 13-year corporate career, I wore makeup every day but when I started working from home, I wouldn’t wear any unless I knew I would see someone. It seems pathetic how I was wearing make up for someone else (who?!) since I didn’t bother to put it on while I worked from home all day.
When my 6-year-old daughter watches me put on makeup, she has one of two reactions. If I’m delaying her, she sighs heavily and proclaims annoyingly, “Why do you ALWAYS need to put on makeup?” On the other hand, if she’s procrastinating or it’s a special occasion, she’ll happily join in on the application and ask for eyeshadow, blush and lip gloss – all of which I’ll hand over because I don’t think wearing makeup has anything to do with her becoming a potential whore when she grows up.
My answer to her as to why I wear makeup has always been “because I like it” and while it’s partially true, the truer, more revealing answer is “because I think it makes me prettier.” (I won’t say that to her, though.)
With makeup, I walk with my head held higher, I hold eye contact longer and I linger in a conversation more confidently. Ironically, the makeup I wear does not create a look dramatically different from my natural one. Yet I feel much more comfortable when I have the opportunity to “beautify” my face: even out my freckled face with a tinted moisturizer, accent my cheeks with some bronzer, pink blush and lastly, basic black mascara (which I don’t coat on heavily) to accentuate my eyes. It’s not much, but it takes time.
I stare at myself in the mirror with a clean face. A month’s worth of sun tan has given me a perfect color and my stress-induced adult acne has been dormant (knock on wood) and my eyebrows are plucked. This is as good as a blank canvas as I’ll ever get.
“You’re a natural beauty,” my husband gushes, “you look gorgeous without a stitch of makeup. You don’t need any of it.”
“But I look better with it,” I rebut.
“More polished, maybe, but not better necessarily.”
For our two week vacation on the beach, I packed my small travel makeup bag with enough to give me anything from a natural beach look to a smokey eye going out at night look. Our days were spent sun-drenched, saturated in lotion and after I showered the sand from my body and combed out the salt infused frizzy hair, the last thing I wanted to do was apply a face of makeup. I moisturized and moved on – even out to dinner!
I spent over a month without wearing makeup. Getting ready seemed so much easier and faster. I didn’t take half as many photos if I had worn makeup. We didn’t get the ideal family photo on the beach like I intended because I was floating in my new “bare faced but don’t take a picture of me” world. Every time I caught my reflection, I was surprised to see me looking this way “out in public.”
I made new friends who met me only as makeup free, which seemed obvious on the beach; they didn’t think anything of my secret makeup break. I was happy and tan and didn’t care what they thought of my freckled, un-made-up face. At the end of our trip, I shared a Dubsmash compilation video my husband and me recorded and my new friend’s first reaction was, “Cute. LOVE the lipstick.”
“Thanks,” I replied. “It’s my non-beach look.”
Home a week, the makeup remained untouched until today. I went to see my grandmother and my mom and thought I should look my best for fear of them thinking I looked too thin or pale. I am so tan the makeup looks less negligible than ever.
“You look great,” my husband made a point to tell me. “Is this the first day you did makeup?”
“Yes, I wasted at least ten minutes doing this and I look exactly the same.”
“I told you – you don’t need it.”