Day 3: Makeup is Magic!

Friday, Sept 13

It’s funny how when I was a teenager I wore makeup to look older. Even in my 20s, I wanted to look older. I was “blessed” with a bit of a baby face, and I knew someday I would want to look younger and would appreciate said baby face. But at that time, I wanted to look like an adult. And makeup helped me accomplish that more mature look.

Oh, how time flies.

Now I feel like, without makeup, I look older, but not in the same kind of good, mature, womanly sort of way. More like the tired, obviously has kids, seen better days sort of way. And so I feel I need makeup to look younger. Alive, even.

And when my 6 year old told me how “magic” my makeup was, it got me thinking about what kind of example I was setting for her. Would she grow up and feel like she “needs” makeup in the same way that I do? Not only will this become an expensive habit, but one that I feel is unnecessary during a time when she should enjoy her flawless complexion and the confidence of looking in the mirror and recognizing how beautiful she is.

But then I’m torn. Because as much as I feel like maybe makeup is my crutch, it’s also something I think of as being really fun! Makeup is creative. It’s a form of personal expression. It’s sort of like accessorizing your face. And I would never want to hinder my children’s freedom to creatively express themselves. I try to help coordinate their outfits so they wear matching clothes, but I also allow them to wear whatever silly combo they come up with on their own. With that said, I also know there are limits.

I would not, for example, want my baby girl to wear “bootie shorts” even if she strongly feels they express something about her personality. Because I feel that what they express is a) that she’s oversexed for her age, b) that her parents don’t promote modesty or age-appropriate modesty at least, c) that she’s a target for people to look at and sexualize an innocent child, d) that her and possibly the family has been highly influenced by society’s advertisements which market sex at every age demographic and make kids/teens/adults feel like they need to show skin to be beautiful, and that skin has to be cellulite-free and flawless (even though we “know” their body has been airbrushed and that their fresh face is actually covered in makeup to look as if they are “natural” beauties, which they probably are if someone actually let them look like themselves). Whew! Can you say, run-on sentence?

But, on the flipside, short shorts might also mean that a) she’s confident with her body? Okay, that’s as far as I got on the flipside list. Wait, here’s b) that she is innocent and shouldn’t have to cover up her body simply out of fear that other people will look at her in a certain way, or c) that somehow it’s her “fault” that people look at her, and that she’s the one making herself into a target, once again reinforcing the misconception that women ask for rape by wearing certain clothes. However, given that we live in a society with so many pervs, I would rather err on the side of covering up and not inviting unwanted attention, even if she should be free to wear short shorts without someone looking at her inappropriately and/or making a judgement about her and using her clothes as an excuse for their own urges which we act like they can’t control because they are men who are wired to respond to visual stimulation. Bah! A bunch of crap, in my opinion. It’s just another ploy to blame women and excuse men when it comes to sexual conduct.

I think back to my time in middle school, when the makeup thing began. I had a huge blemish, and was so embarrassed. When one of my friends (a grade younger) took me to the girls bathroom and helped me “cover up” that stupid thing. And, like my daughter, I was like “Wow, that is magic!” And that moment changed my whole life. I realized that, just because you don’t have perfect skin, doesn’t mean you have to be self conscious, because that’s what makeup is for! To make you feel better, more beautiful, make your outer self look like the person you are on the inside.

And even though I’ve always considered myself minimalist in the makeup department (as in using cover-up, mascara and lip gloss), I’ve discovered you can use eye shadow and blush and bronzer and eye liner all to enhance that look, and to accentuate your features, or coordinate to your outfit, or set yourself apart from the norm.

Although I will never forget Lisa Turtle’s famous advice. You know Lisa, from Saved by the Bell. It was something like: “The key to wearing makeup, is to look like you’re not wearing makeup.” And I think I’ve been fairly successful with this. Since, when I tell people I quit makeup, they remark “But you don’t even wear makeup.” Which means I either a) am REALLY good at applying my own makeup and sticking to Lisa’s rule, or b) I REALLY suck at putting on makeup and have wasted my money for some 15 years (well, the first few years it was my parents’ money, sorry guys!).


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