Try as I might, I’ve never been able to fully avoid makeup. I’m a female, after all. Almost all of the women in my life have worn it, I have seen it in all the magazines, and it was a staple in any bathroom I ventured into as a child. Basically, as a young girl, I realized that makeup was a big fucking deal.
As I entered middle school, I was struck with the pressure to wear makeup. All of the girls around me had thick black eyeliner on their top lids and a ton of concealer everywhere (even on their clothes). There was not a natural skin tone in sight. With the peer pressure mounting, I began to apply some pink, glittery eye shadow on my eyelids. Looking back, whatever I was putting on my eyes was probably cancerous. Alas, my eyes were sparkly disco balls for one too many weeks in the fifth grade.
All along, as I ventured through the cosmetic aisles in every major drugstore, it never felt right. Makeup just never felt like me. I felt like a completely different person whenever I would smear powdery colors of various shades and textures all over my face. I felt as if I was putting on a physical mask to accompany the fake personality I portrayed to my peers. I was not one of those girls that wore makeup as a form of self-expression. I was just doing it because that’s what I thought all girls did. I was brainwashed to believe that it was a rite of passage and that I could not be a successful female without it.
When my skin decided that acne was going to happen, I took that as a cue to stop with the makeup. Without the makeup, I had no shield to protect me from the judgments of others. The weird thing is, I enjoyed this newfound freedom. I enjoyed not caring what everyone else thought of me. That is when I began to discover self-confidence and the power that loving yourself can have. I no longer needed makeup to hide my imperfections because, even though I was aware of them, they never bothered me. In fact, I began to listen to my imperfections (which sounds way deeper than I meant it to). Every time dark circles would form underneath my eyes, I took that as I sign that I needed an earlier bedtime. As for pimples, I took that as a sign that puberty sucks, but also that my skin needed some TLC. Without makeup, my body image wasn’t too shabby.
I am not saying that makeup is a monster and that we should all burn it with our bras (although, that does kind of sound like fun, right?). I think that, done right, it can be a beautiful thing and I admire girls that express themselves with their cosmetics. The thing is, makeup should never be seen as a substitute for confidence. I remember a school psychologist telling me that she would not leave her house unless her makeup was perfectly done, even if it meant that she was going to be late for work. That made me sad for many reasons, the main one being that even a successful grown woman (who advises young women, no less) felt that her makeup defined her to the point where she physically could not leave the house without it. That should never be the case.
Try leaving the house without makeup more often. More importantly, own it. Learn to love yourself, not your cosmetics bag.