‘Are you wearing….make-up!?!?!?’
I got that question not once….not twice…but a whopping six times last week. Merely because I opted for a blue and a green eyeliner on two occasions, instead of the usual black and grey.
Seeing as those questions actually came from men, I suppose I should be honored that they…you know….noticed….Yet it always makes me wonder out loud if it’s a problem that I put it on.
‘Nono. It looks fine but I just…never see you wear make-up, that’s all.’
But a part of me always instantly dives down into insecurity. Is there something wrong with wearing make-up? Or is it just the fact that it’s me wearing it? Did I do it wonky? Do I normally look so scruffy that it’s this noticeable of a difference? Thoughts spinning, I usually reply with something snarky on comments like that. Not very nice, but yaknow. Reflex.
The thing is – I agree with them. It WAS a difference.
I used to ALWAYS have make-up on. Loads of it, too. Primer, foundation, setting powder and bronzer topped with rouge. Highlighter and eyeliner and eyebrow pencils and powder. Mascara after mascara after mascara. Lipliners and lipstick with an added layer of gloss. I used to go full mask, all day every day.
On the one hand that was because hormones drove my skin crazy, which generally meant that I looked like a 14 year old on steroids with acne. On the other hand – somehow it felt more ‘professional‘. Grown-up. Necessary. Expected. But regardless, my morning routine consisted of a solid 20 minutes of extra smearing back then. Mind you: this was only 2 years back in time.
Since then I switched anti-conception a couple of times, which has done wonders for my skin (and moods, just saying). Switched jobs. Dated a new guy and dumped him again with all the added heartbreak. And of course got forced into work-from-home mode due to the bitch-that-is-corona. All of that kind of contributed to me swearing off make-up (outside of the basic line and lick of mascara).
The thing is – for all the things that make-up CAN’T do (like improve your personality, help you find true love, change the world)….it DOES have its merits.
Because regardless of how you look at it, it changes the way you look at the world, and how the world looks at you. Throughout the years make-up has helped ME (the pessimist of doom) feel beautiful on occasion. Helped me feel powerful. Helped me feel like I looked the part and could play my role convincingly. It helped.
But then I started dating someone who preferred me without make-up. Who constantly and thoughtfully worked on making me feel beautiful. Who expressed this out loud and underlined it with actions. Who even had me believing it, for reals, at times. And the feeling of not needing make-up to shine started to trickle in. Which – in and of itself was awesome. Until that ends up missing from your life once again.
I can’t really recall the last time I felt genuinely good about myself these past two months after the break-up, looks-wise I mean. Going from all of the unprompted recognition to rebounds who barely ‘see‘ you for anything other than a convenience (which, to be fair, has been a two way street on my part as well ) has been crushing on any and all self-confidence. I’m not afraid to admit it.
And for some reason, those kinds of ‘unpretty‘ feelings (at least, in my world) lead to becoming increasingly less beautiful as a result. It’s a return to baggy jeans and worn-out tops when not in the office. To sneakers and unkempt hair. To make-up-less workouts in hoodies and to late nights in PJ’s instead of lingerie. If there’s no one to be pretty for, ain’t no need to waste the time….that’s usually the reasoning in my brain.
When you stop putting in effort…that’s when you take a quick dive down to ‘lonely town‘ and instantly become sign-up-ready for crazy cat lady tutorials. That’s just the way it is. So last week I decided to adopt a new FUCK-IT-ALL attitude. Had my hair fixed (into a gawddamn mess of curls that I STILL hate, but at least looks taken care of). Pulled out the cobwebbed ‘pretty‘ skirts and dresses that had been banished to the dark depths of the closet. And dredged up my make-up bag from where it had wandered off to in it’s period of freedom. Hell. I even told myself to no longer settle for convenience and find me a dude who CAN appreciate the beauty that is me and isn’t afraid to say it out loud. (ok. I said the words, still working on believing that part). And that was all because of a few layers of make-up.
Some days it feels a bit like cheating. Make-up isn’t a free ticket to beauty and it possesses no actual means to make you feel better, but for all intents and purposes (lifehack, people!) it DOES change (my) mindset enough to have exactly that effect. A simple colored line over the eyelid makes the days seem a bit brighter in turn. And that extra curious (and confused) glance from those who are used to plain Jane moi is an extra boost for an ego that’s been sorely lacking. The spring in my step may not be caused by the flash of color on my lips, but hey, if it works it works. Right?
So whether or not it actually fixes my face, it fixes my attitude. Enough, at least, to get back into the masquerade that we call life. Where the face we show is the face we’re judged for, instead of all the beauty that may hide beneath. Lucky for me, I still know how to handle a foundation brush.