Growing Up Playing with Makeup
Like many young women, I experimented a lot with makeup when I was a pre-teen and teenager. My friends and I went off to the local drugstore and bought eye shadow in virulent shades of blue, green, and purple. We got lip smackers in soda flavors. We tried out different eye liners and mascaras to try to get dramatic and smoky eyes.
We bought sparkly glitter lotion from Bath & Body Works. We bought nail polishes in every spectrum of the rainbow. We tried French tips and stripes and polka dot nails. If there was a make-up product we tried it.
Before every dance or teen event we straightened our hair within an inch of its life. We sprayed ourselves with overly floral and sweet perfumes.
One time, me and a friend (who both believed we had really hairy arms and moreover that it was completely awful to have hairy arms), bought a wax kit to remove the hair from our arms. We did it in my house in the middle of the day. I’m not sure what my parents thought of all the screaming and cussing. Although we were happy with the results, that was the first and last time we did that!
Steadily Abandoning Makeup in College
My freshman roommate spent hours every morning putting on a full face of makeup and straightening her hair. She got up early before class (sometimes even instead of class) to effect this transformation. Many people didn’t recognize her the occasional times she went to get food first thing in the morning without makeup.
I, on the other hand, woke up brushed my teeth and hair and got dressed and went off to my early morning classes. I did a bit of lip gloss and mascara some of the time and never went to class in my pajamas. And I made sure to do a full face of makeup and my hair for special events…or frat parties early on in college.
However, over time, I stopped straightening my hair and left it wavy. I kept my makeup minimal.
And I felt happier for it. I recognized myself in photos and the mirror. I was able to sleep a little more.
Today I Barely Wear Any Makeup
I respect all the women and men who love makeup and feel happier and prettier wearing it. That is their right.
However, it is also my option to not wear makeup. I don’t need it to make me prettier, happier, or more desirable.
I leave my hair in its naturally wavy state. I don’t emphasize my eyes with makeup. I use chapstick and occasionally on date night lipstick. I don’t use foundation to cover my blemishes. Instead, I clean and moisturize my skin every morning and night.
Sometimes, I feel out of place when I am around others wearing more makeup for work or an event. It feels almost rebellious to not wear makeup—to protest against some of the ways the beauty industry makes women feel like they are not good enough or pretty enough on their own without modification.
And it is true that I am doing that in my own small way. I do feel brave not wearing makeup when it is so expected by many. I know that for some it might make me look tired or not professional.
Yet, that is not enough for me to do something that doesn’t feel right to me. I can be professional and beautiful without makeup.
Instead, I focus on taking care of my body to feel healthy and beautiful. I try to get enough sleep, eat healthy food, take care of my skin, exercise, and go to the doctors I need for physical and mental health. These are my priorities.
Occasionally, I still paint my toes yellow or use a little lipstick.
I am not rigid in my approach to makeup or my other values. I stay flexible in my approach to living and learning.
But not wearing makeup serves my other values at the moment–values like taking care of myself, loving my body and face as they are, and spending my time and money on things that are important to me.
As such it makes it easier for me to eschew even when I am surrounded my women with full faces of makeup and a little bit of doubt enters my mind.
I know that I am enough.