To some, makeup is a form of expression. To others, makeup is a mask. To many, makeup is a quick way to enhance certain facial characteristics. Regardless, there’s a reason that those adept in its application are called makeup artists.
When I grew up, I was under the false assumption that makeup was created solely for the purpose of masking insecurities and indulging in self-hatred. I was the poster child of condescension and rarely hesitated in telling my friends that they were beautiful without makeup (a true but unwelcome and poorly connotative statement).
I’m not sure exactly where my negative predisposition originated, but it may have developed as a result of how people around me talked about makeup. Some treated makeup as a special occasion, but others would blanket their face in coats of product not because they enjoyed a task that is inarguably taxing, but because they feared to be what they deemed to be ugly. Granted, this is not truly how they felt about makeup, but to an impressionable young girl, what they said molded my thoughts into this conclusion. I grew up thinking that certain traits were good and others were bad, and thus my opposition to makeup was my rebellion against what I perceived as a culture of insecurity.
But when my uncle’s wedding rolled around, all of our female family members were treated to the services of a makeup artist, and I was shocked by my positive experience. The lady was incredibly kind, the products didn’t hurt, and the “minimal makeup” my mother had asked for made me feel like a completely new, better version of myself. It was something different, something akin to finding a dress that fits just right.
Then, I joined theater. Anyone who has done a school play knows of the dreaded pancake and of the layers of makeup that polish your face under stage lights before they’re promptly sweated off. It’s a requirement for thespians, one that helps us step into a new character. But naturally, on a face unaccustomed to so many products, I started to break out. Some days, without any occasion or instruction, I would dab on a little bit of my mom’s concealer. The world didn’t fall apart in the face of my hypocrisy.
Experience had been my friend and forced exposure most definitely helped me overcome my initial reluctance. I was scared of developing new insecurities as I found new features to hide or alter, but I realized that everyone’s relationship with makeup is unique. I could do what I want with a mascara wand, and my eyelash curler only bore the meaning I granted it.
I’d love to wrap this up by saying that I’m now a successful makeup guru or that I wear makeup proudly and daily, but frankly, neither are true. Dedication to makeup involves spending time and money that I don’t have, but I now have a much healthier relationship with something that used to honestly scare me.
So to my friends I used to constantly dissuade, I’m sorry. You’re beautiful without makeup, but you’re also beautiful with makeup.