About a year ago I decided to cast aside my habit of wearing makeup every day, in hopes of a lifestyle change. I convinced myself that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but really it had been brewing in the back of my mind for a while.
When I was younger I was the tomboy many fathers dream of having for a daughter. I loved sports, getting dirty, and wearing baseball caps and pants rather than frilly dresses. The thought of going shopping for nice, girly clothes or shoes made me cringe. I had a love-hate relationship with Barbies and preferred to play with trains, trucks, and especially the good, old-fashioned sticks from my backyard. To be honest, I still have many of those traits. However, despite having so many stereo-typically male characteristics, there was one thing that I always wanted to try: makeup. I would look at all of my mother’s bottles of goo and palates of powder and dream of the day I would be allowed to slather it upon my face and play the role of 1950’s housewife. I don’t know whether my idea of beauty was shaped by the media or socially accepted norms. Either way, I couldn’t wait to join everyone else and hide my real face with synthetic shades of pink and harsh lines of black.
When I entered middle school I knew my time had come. My parents said yes to makeup. I rushed to the store to gawk at the huge selections and waited impatiently to get home and try my hand at the art of formal face-painting. I was hooked from the first swipe of eye shadow. My father, on the other hand, was not. For the next ten to twelve years I wore makeup every day. My skills improved and I could do a pretty decent job, but there were problems involved.
The first of these problems that I noticed was that I found I couldn’t go out into public without donning my makeup because I felt extremely self-conscious and vulnerable and naked. No one wants to feel like that. It’s terrible. But, I pushed this problem out of my mind because I was still enamored with wearing a wonderful mask of cosmetic products.
The next problem became apparent around the same time I was going through the horrors of puberty. My skin began to break out. And, as every woman who wears makeup knows, you begin to develop an unending, devastating cycle. As my skin would develop blemishes I would use more makeup to hide my flaws. This inevitably resulted in a worsening of my skin condition because the makeup would seep into and block my pores. Guess what! That meant more makeup was needed! I ignored this problem as well for a long time.
The straw that broke the cosmetic camel’s back arrived in college. I vividly remember every morning I would wake up—very early to both apply makeup and get to my nine a.m. class—and begin my trek across campus. These walks were terrible. As I made my way through the paths of my beautiful campus, my eyes would water as if I just found out some heart-breaking news. And, who was to thank for this? My dear makeup. My eyes were so sensitive they began to reject anything I would put near them. I started every day basically applying poison near my suffering eyes. Finally, I realized something had to change.
So, one day I stopped. I hid my many containers of eye shadow, mascara, lip gloss, cover-up, powder, and eyeliner from myself so that I wouldn’t be tempted in the morning. I thought I would suffer from my new decision due to being so attached to the stuff, but I was completely wrong. I never felt freer. I expected people to either a) not recognize me or b) be disgusted with my sudden loss of “correctional” products. Neither of these happened.
And, the perks of the shift didn’t stop there. With my bohemian personality I felt better about using less harmful chemicals on my skin that would ultimately end up back in nature. I would no longer support the commercially-made makeup business with my monetary contributions and daily use that acted as free advertisement. I also saved so much time in my daily preparations. And, most importantly I could sleep more in the morning rather than applying cosmetics. As a college student this was a blessing of the highest order. In addition to this, I saved money. Makeup is ungodly expensive. Again, my poor, college student bank account thanked me profusely. My skin improved, my eyes stopped burning and watering, and most importantly I was happier with how I looked. I am of the opinion that people, that means everyone, is more beautiful when they are completely natural. When you don’t rely on factory-made products to define how your face looks you allow your true beauty to shine through. When I see people without their makeup I feel as though I am seeing who they really are; the unguarded, strong inner personality without the protective barriers and false decoration that makeup provides.
My friends from home were astonished to find out about my revelations. And, when I went to a club for the first time they were shocked I wasn’t going to add a drop or an ounce of makeup to my complexion. I’ve tried to explain it, but I guess they’re still trapped in the same thought patterns I recognize in my old self. I’ve made a promise to myself that no one can change: I will never wear any makeup again for any reason and under any circumstances. I am in control of who I am and how I present myself. I prefer that people see my unaltered, natural appearance. It’s the first step in allowing others into the world kept I’ve hidden.