Like most women, I have spent a considerable part of my life wearing make-up. What starts out as a bit of mascara and lipstick in your teens can become an hour long ritual every morning of adulthood.
There are many reasons we wear cosmetics. To cover bad skin, to change our style, to look professional, to feel more attractive. I wore make-up for all these reasons and because I felt it was expected of me. I’m from a family of women who all take care in their appearance and make-up forms a part of that care. They look good for it too. I grew up thinking of my face as a blank canvas ready to be painted, and it was that painted face which the world would want to see. Not the plain one.
When I moved to Australia, I was fascinated to see how many women spend their days make-up free. And they look so chilled out. It took a while for old habits to die, but I found myself make-up free more and more. But, whenever an occasion arose when I felt I should put my best face on, out came the make-up pallette.
The ironic thing is that wearing make-up made me feel more self-conscious. Had I applied it right? Had my mascara smudged? Was my foundation sliding off my face in the humidity? Whenever I went make-up free, though, I never gave my face a second thought. I knew it would still look the same as it had in the mirror that morning.
About three months ago I wore make-up for the last time to a friend’s birthday party. I remember catching a glimpse of myself in the restroom mirror and thinking ‘Is this what I really look like?’. The answer of course was no. I was presenting a version of myself that didn’t really exist. The make-up was not making me feel beautiful, but instead like I was hiding my true self.
Let’s be honest here, it wasn’t just make-up making me feel this way. My own expectations of who I should be and how I should behave around other people were a big factor in my low self confidence. I’m not comfortable in growds or making small talk, but I’ve always seen these traits as my failings to be overcome or disguised. Feeling put together or people thinking I’m attractive felt hugely important in surviving these social situations. The catch-22 of course was that I still spent the evening feeling painfully self aware.
Not only do I no longer wear make-up during the day, but I don’t wear it on special occasions either. Nor do I put it on when I’m going to be photographed. I don’t put it on when I know everyone else will be glammed up and lovely. If other women can wear it with confidence and not feel a slave to their cosmetics then to them I say: Rock on, sisters.
To those women who begrudge the time it takes to apply, the expense it adds to their budget and the way they feel less than when not wearing it I say: Ditch it. You don’t need it. In a world where we talk so much about accepting others for who they are, you don’t get much more real than letting everyone see your one and only face.
It’s the most beautiful one you have. Love it.