“Is she wearing EYE-MAKEUP!” my fellow third grade classmates gasped after the morning battle I’d had with my mother where I insisted that eye shadow was completely acceptable and should be worn by everyone—particularly me. Unfortunately, my intended pretty princess look resulted in a school-wide slut shaming scandal as the news spread that yes indeedy, I was wearing PURPLE EYE SHADOW and it was VERY SLUTTY! You know—as if third grade slut shaming makes any more sense than any other slut shaming. Side note: We need to stop shaming little girls who play with makeup. How many of you were told you looked like a streetwalker in your developing years?
After the incident—which I believe may have resulted in a teacher phoning my mother—I mostly limited my makeup experiments to my bedroom vanity.
In my mind I had waited like forever to be old enough to wear makeup to school. As a preschooler I had gone into my mother’s makeup so many times that she finally gave up and let me have a shoebox of various destroyed and ill-gotten lipsticks, eye palettes and gauche nail colors. My mother also had a foray into the world of direct sales as a Mary Kay rep and her failed attempt resulted in a delightful assortment of mini perfumes, eye shadows and lipsticks for moi! And that was how I became a makeup addict!
It’s no secret—I love makeup and I feel the magnetic pull of the cosmetics counter when I walk past.
I’m not entirely sure of the psychology that creates a person who believes a lipstick can change one’s fate, but I will tell you that I have run into close friends in the drug store makeup isle at 9PM who were also looking for a little fix. Often I will slap on some lipstick with little attention to my other makeup before I run errands because it gives me some measure of feeling dressed in spite of my often unfashionable, writerly house-elf attire. Side note: A cute coat and a great lipstick go a long way in Minnesota! I also credit a heavy slathering of Cover Girl foundation for saving my face from even more sun damage garnered during the years where I hung out on the beach with no sunscreen and a desire to ‘look tanner—without those pesky sunburn blotches’.
Messy bathroom makeup shot—I make a huge mess before I go out!
Many point to insecurity as the reason women paint their faces but I think it’s more complicated than that.
Surely, we have cultural ideas about beauty and that is part of the story, but makeup is also purely ornamental. I look at it like a any other fashion accessory—and for some people (Yes, I am including the boys here!) makeup has become part of their overall style and identity—think Liz Taylor and Amy Winehouse’s iconic use of eyeliner and George Hamilton’s unnatural tan.
I often hear young women saying that they can’t go out without full makeup and they don’t feel pretty until they’re made-up—and I get it—even though I think they’re equally gorgeous with bare skin.
There can be pressure to conform to a certain style or maintain one’s image and that’s important to some women—especially when your style and confidence are still developing! Even women in the corporate world generally conform to some sort of simple makeup routine. But there are also a number of voices, particularly men and celebrity gawkers who make ridiculous claims about famous women by showing photos of them in poor lighting with no makeup underscored with ‘gotcha’ headlines that shout ‘SEE! SHE IS UGLY WITHOUT MAKEUP!” or worse, “SHE’S A CATFISH!” How dare she be just like everyone else!
I could take a photo of a fifteen year old model in poor lighting and no makeup and they too might have under eye circles—and if genetically predisposed—under eye BAGS! Hello—those Instagram programmers knew they had something by making us all just a little prettier than we actually are in real life! These fun filters have been available to movie creators and photographers for years—and now they’re just another part of our culture—our digital makeup! And if not for retouching, half the high school photos would be full of acne—who wants that preserved for eternity!
My makeup storage cabinet. I got it from Home Decorators Collection and I added drawer pulls to make it fancy!
There is no doubt that part of my early love of makeup stemmed from a desire to look older and achieve coolness by copying the makeup and style of my friends’ older siblings. Makeup has the ability to identify us as part of a group and convey different attitudes. Had I been born later, I’m sure I would have been one of those panda-eyed Emo kids when, in my teen years, a heavy dose of black liner, extra ear piercings and a tattered dress were more than enough to create controversy.
These days, I’m aware that makeup has both aging and preservative qualities.
Try to find a word that is the opposite of aging and you can’t—because time doesn’t go backwards—no matter what the makeup manufacturers tell us! I love to have fun with makeup when I go out or entertain, but most often I take a minimalist approach. I wear a lightweight base that includes Stila One-Step Correct and my current foundation favorite Makeup Forever HD. In the summer I am religious about using sunscreen and the one I like for my face is Color Science Mineral Sunscreen powder. It’s the only one that I can use without sweating myself into a breakout. I’m paying for all that baking in the sun and see my dermatologist once a year to laser sun damaged areas—it’s expensive—wear sunscreen!
Peace! Charlie Brown! My foundation only makeup look.
The thing is, I’ve made peace with my face with and without makeup because I’m equal parts Peppermint Patty and Lucy. At the end of the day, I look at my face like a canvas—one that I can paint to any effect I want. And I still believe in the power of lipstick to change my day!
Note: There are no paid endorsements in this story. But you know—there’s always the future. 🙂