I’ve worn makeup for 12 years. Undoubtedly, I blundered through the first six, as many of us do.
Mastering makeup is a rite of passage, and most of us women go through it.
I loved showing my younger cousin how to use makeup in a way that suits her, passing on my skills to her, like she will do to her friends and her siblings.
I loved seeing her eyes light up when she felt like a confident beautiful woman, even though she’s still a girl. I loved seeing her marvel at herself in the mirror, unaware of the power that she now had.
Some of us love it, and some of us don’t.
Some of us see it as an art, others see it as a chore, while still others see it as an oppressive force.
I love makeup. I love looking at my worn palette, admiring the textures, picking up the brushes. I love putting brush to skin and feeling it’s soft caress on my cheek. I love smearing pretty colors on my face, creating art on top of art, combining textures, adorning features.
Are there days when I didn’t feel like doing it? Of course. Waking up at 7 in the morning because I had a class to teach after getting 3 hours of sleep, because I danced until 4 in the morning is one of those instances.
But I still used whatever energy I had to artfully apply my face because I love the way the makeup can transform me.
I can go from looking like a pale zombie to a doll. It can transform me from a shy little girl, to a confident woman. I helps me take on and act out any aspect of myself I choose.
For centuries women across the world adorned their faces with makeup. Once they drew light veins on their skin to make it appear more translucent a sign of beauty at the time. We make our cheeks more rosy as a sign of energy and fertility, we make our mouths scarlet red so that you think naughty thoughts when you see them… For centuries women used their makeup to make an impression, attract the opposite sex, or just to throw men off balance, and gain the upper hand.
We use makeup to emphasize parts of us that we love, and de-emphasize parts of ourselves that we aren’t ready to share.
Am I hiding under makeup? It’s not that I’m hiding. I’m really not. Sure, you might think I am because makeup ‘covers up’ the real me. I can see some validity in that, some truth. I don’t deny that I hid in the past, covered up acne as best as I could. I was ashamed of my appearance.
But I’m not hiding anymore. I’m not ashamed.
I don’t care if you see me. In fact, you should count yourself lucky if you do. To see me, to really be able to see me (when I let you) that’s the ultimate gift, isn’t it? Or shouldn’t it be? I’m a delicate flower, a mystery, a daughter, a girl, a woman, a leader, a lover, a thinker, a doer, a soul…I’m a lot of things. A lot of things that words can’t even describe, and shouldn’t try to describe.
Makeup isn’t there to protect me. It’s there to protect you.
Do you expect me to walk this world completely open to you? An open book, clearly written, easily delivered. Fuck that. In a world of online profiles and the 5 second first impression swipe, you want me to show myself to you fully? What would that do? How would you survive so much honesty? So I will not.
Instead I’ll make a great first impression. I’ll charm you, I’ll hypnotize you, and maybe I’ll even have my way with you.
If you want to know me, to see me, then you can try. I dare you to try.
Really, try… Ask questions, and listen. Really listen to me, to my every word, every laugh, every breath, every silence, and every pause… If you want to see me, then look. Really look at me, at the sparkle of my eyes, my smile, the crinkle of my nose, my gesticulating hands, my posture… I have to know that you really want to see me. That you really need to see me. That you are capable of seeing me.
You want to know what’s in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul? Then get to know me.
And I will show you. Wouldn’t it be nice if you experienced me mindfully, the way I mindfully apply my makeup…If you felt me, the way I feel the bristles of my brush against my skin. If you knew me, the way I know what shades compliment me, and which ones don’t. If you could give me the ability to transform at a whim, the way my makeup does. Would you?
Makeup isn’t a weapon, or armor, nor is it a shield. Makeup isn’t a facade, nor is it an imposed expectation. Makeup can be used for vanity, security, and power — for good or evil. With makeup there is a choice, there’s always a choice.
Makeup is tradition, an expression, and a powerful tool that every woman has in her possession.
Makeup can bring you closer, or it can keep you away. Does makeup really have all this meaning that I claim? Of course it doesn’t.
Makeup is just makeup. It’s completely frivolous…until you give it meaning.
You can decide if makeup is a prison, or if makeup is a freedom. It can be a symbol of strength or of weakness.
You can decide if I’m using it to hide, or if I’m using it to use you. You can decide how to define everything in life, and how you want to see it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.
I can wear no makeup, and still be any aspect of myself that I choose. I can wear no makeup and still be wonderfully happy and in love with life.
So why do I wear makeup? Makeup forces me to try instead of settle, to see beauty when I can’t see anything, to create beauty when there is none…It helps me look sane, when I’m feeling insane. Yes, I could choose to go without makeup. But why would I?