What Makeup Means to Me

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Okay guys. I know that we’ve just met, and we haven’t gotten to know each other all that well, but I feel like, if we put in the time and really worked at it, we could be something special.

Stop me if I’m moving too fast…

No? Thank goodness, I was worried for a second there.

Well, now that we’ve established that we’re in this for the long haul, there’s something you should know about me. It’s some heavy stuff, my dears, and it may change how you see me; but I’ve gotta come clean here. I just wouldn’t feel right keeping things from you.

Come closer.

A little closer.

I think I’m beautiful. With or without makeup.

Shocking, right?

In today’s society hearing a woman admit that she is actually just fine with her face, let alone au naturalle, is about as rare as a Texas man’s steak. This groundbreaking admission will also garner many different reactions. Some may sneer, admonishing the woman declaring her complete satisfaction with her appearance as indulging in vanity. Others will laugh her down, pointing out her obvious flaws, jeering as they throw tubes of concealer and cackle behind their hands at the poor, foolish woman. I mean, have you seen her brows? Does she even bother with plucking? Ew.

Okay, that may be a tad of a dramatization that I painted there, but you get the idea.

We live in a world that constantly pushes us towards aesthetic perfection. One ad tells us we need perfectly plump lips, constantly adorned with the latest 78.5 hour stay-put formula. Another tells us our eyelashes should be so long and full, they create small gusts of wind when we flutter them at that cute barista you know the one who serves us our caramel-frappa-mocha-late-iato-3000. And every single one of these ladies in the ads look out at us with perfectly dewy, absolutely blemish-free skin.

“Be like me,” they say. “This is what you should look like.”

If no one has already told you, then I hate to drop this truth bomb on you so suddenly, but that’s all a photoshopped fantasy. An illusion created by companies all trying to one-up each other on who’s products can make you the ultimate shine-free, clear-skinned, mutant-lashed lady.

If you haven’t picked up the vibe I’m throwing down here, I’m suggesting that this can be very harmful. Not just to young girls and women, but to all the wonderful over-thirty-something ladies out there too.

The media expressly forbids women from aging. It is the cardinal sin of our gender, and every cosmetic company out there is lining up to help you keep from committing it. But, everyone ages. It’s a natural, beautiful process that has been demonized to, you guessed it, sell eye creams. Not cool.

Now that I’ve set this all up, allow me get around to that point I was planning on making. Trust me, it’s coming. Stay with me here.

I wear makeup every day. And I mean every. day.

I wake up an hour early every single morning to “put on my face.” And I’m not even talking some tinted moisturizer and a little mascara here. I go all out. Primer, liquid foundation, brow grooming, blush, contouring, three different mascaras, and that’s not even all of it! I also have a very strict skin care ritual that I do twice a day. Without fail. I don’t go to sleep without my makeup removed, skin moisturized, and eye cream on. It just doesn’t happen.

“But Queenie,” you ask “Didn’t you just spend about eight paragraphs telling us how damaging the cosmetics industry is? I thought you said you were beautiful without makeup? And you do anti-aging treatments to boot? What gives?!”

And here we arrive. At the point. Told you I’d get you there.

I don’t need makeup to be beautiful. And I’d be beautiful if I aged naturally or with cosmetic assistance. I do all this stuff because I want to.

Are you scratching your heads yet? I’ll try to help you out.

You see, I didn’t always feel like the towering Amazon Goddess that I do today. In fact, I used to hate the way I looked until just a few years ago. I remember very distinctly skipping a whole day’s worth of classes because I’d accidentally left my makeup at my mother’s apartment half an hour away and wouldn’t be able to to get it until the evening. I looked in the mirror, fighting back tears, as I poked and prodded at my blemishes. I even refused to leave my dorm room to go eat meals. I was so ashamed of my face that I would have rather gone hungry all day than step outside without makeup on.

Isn’t that sad? Being held hostage by yourself like that? I think so too.

One day I had this realization that my love for makeup hadn’t been love at all. I need it to feel beautiful, to feel worthy. That wasn’t love, it was Stockholm syndrome! I vowed from then on that I would never allow myself to feel like that again. That I would turn my dependency on cosmetics into what it always should have been; a passion.

Now, three years later, my relationship with makeup is completely different. Instead of being the crutch I depended on to cover my insecurity, it became one of the many things that I now love about myself. I am loathe to go out bare-faced today, not because I feel ugly, but because I feel like I am missing a part of myself that represents my inner beauty and confidence.

I understand that the distinction may seem vague. What’s the difference if I still won’t leave my house without a full face of makeup?

The difference here is that I don’t use cosmetics to match this unrealistic media expectation that has been set up to make me feel insecure; I wear it for my own pleasure. I would liken the affinity that I have for my makeup to the way someone feels about a tattoo. It’s as much a part of me as the ink in their skin is a part of them.

Looking at myself in a different light in this new and drastic way wasn’t easy. It’s a constant struggle of inner reflection and prayer; and some days are much harder than others. I mean, when the world around you literally spends millions of dollars on advertising designed to make you feel so bad about yourself you’d give any amount of money to try to “fix”all your flaws; loving yourself can seem like an insurmountable task. I feel you, really I do.

But, aren’t you tired of feeling unworthy?

I challenge you to make a drastic change in the way you view yourself. When you apply your foundation and eyeliner; wear it like war paint, not a mask. Wear your winged eyeliner like a weapon, ready to shutdown any naysayers who would dare try too undermine your confidence. Put that funky purple lipstick you bought on a whim with on with pride instead of letting it expire in that makeup graveyard beneath your sink because it’s “too much.”

Too much for who? Not for you and your insurmountable spirit, that’s for sure.

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