My round of trips recently got me to thinking about why I don’t wear makeup. As in, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve put anything other than chapstick on my face in the last year on one hand. When I went to pack my suitcase for England, it didn’t even occur to me to put any makeup in until a friend floated that I might want some in the event I went out to really nice restaurants in London. So I threw in a mascara (still in the packaging), some powder, and lip gloss. Everything came back unused because I was happy with my Burt’s Bees chapstick. Crazy, right?
Maybe not. I just never got into the habit. When other girls spent hours in high school learning to perfect their eyeshadow techniques, including many of my own friends, I looked on while reading or scribbling in my journal. I knew about stage makeup from my years in ballet, but never bothered to ascertain my ‘best look’ for everyday life. In my junior year, I took a stab at putting on makeup every morning for school, but that fizzled after a week or two because I was already waking up at 6am and didn’t see the point in rousing myself earlier.
It wasn’t that I was a tomboy – not by any means. In fact, I am way more conventionally athletic now than I was growing up. I did ballet seriously, dabbled in competitive gymnastics, tried my feet at figure skating, and spent a couple of years as a varsity cheerleader. Basically all the physical activities for girls where appearance actually DOES matter. I was very girlie. My favorite color was and continues to be pink. And yet, I somehow missed the part where I was supposed to like experimenting with makeup, except for the LipSmackers phase (who didn’t love LipSmackers?)
I figured out how to do a little for the few events where makeup was deemed necessary – my brother’s bar mitzvah, some school dances, a couple of sweet sixteen parties – never using more than five products. Mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, flesh-colored powder, and lip gloss. By the time I went off to college, I had accumulated a small stash of these. Five items purchased for me by my mother or my friends, determined to ensure that I was able to look my best on meeting all the people who would surround me at Oxford. During Fresher’s Week (orientation), I made my second attempt at putting on makeup every day, and it ended just as quickly as the first.
Nobody ever seemed to notice that I wasn’t wearing makeup. I recognize now that I was a teenager blessed with extraordinarily good skin. My idea of a major breakout was a few little pimples scattered on my nose, barely noticeable if you weren’t standing right in front of me. The only reason I tried to get into a makeup routine in the first place was because my mom kept telling me it would be necessary when I was older, and that everyone, no matter how pretty, could use a little makeup to highlight their best features. She was, and is, probably correct. I know that if I had my makeup professionally done, my face would look magazine cover ready. But I also know that I was insecure about my looks for most of my life, and that trying to use makeup to fix that didn’t do me a bit of good. You know what worked? Eating right after a long battle to get there, finding exercise that was enjoyable, and attaining the glow of a generally healthy person!
When I got to law school, and when I started my summer internship at a law firm, I again attempted to get some makeup on my face each day and just as quickly abandoned those attempts. I’ve been told makeup would make me look older, which could be helpful as I begin my career, but at the same time I’m not going to go crazy with it until I want to. For a fancy party, a graduation, a wedding? Absolutely. I’ve got nothing against makeup, or the idea of it. If it’s your thing, and you enjoy experimenting with it, by all means do.
With time has come perspective. Wearing makeup won’t make boys notice me, or get me new friends. I admit that I can look particularly lovely when I add the right amount. It takes about five minutes, and incorporates the five products I mentioned, most of which I have owned since I was 16. (My best friend made me replace the mascara and eyeliner last autumn before the Apollo Circle Gala when she realized that what she found in my bureau drawer was actually the same stuff she’d seen in my drawer back in high school). You can see the result of 5 minutes and 5 products in the photo above! But makeup doesn’t give me a confidence boost. Being happy and healthy does. If I wake up one day with the burning desire to learn how to apply a smoky eye, I’ll go for it. Until then, I’m pretty happy with not losing precious time to standing in front of a mirror with an army of products every morning, and I can do a lot with the money I save not buying makeup. What it comes down to is, I like my face the way it is 🙂
What’s your take on makeup?
Do you wear makeup every day, or more on special occasions?
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