When I was thirteen I had just begun to wear makeup. I don’t remember it being a big deal, or my parents being against it. My mother was an active arts student at the time and relied on my independence, my dad probably teased me gently about the fact that I was growing up. What I do remember very clearly was my immediate sense that, as far as the big picture goes, I was somehow less when I wasn’t wearing it. It got so bad that I actually refused to be seen in public without it!
One particularly strong memory from that 13th year: my family was driving home from our cottage one lazy Sunday afternoon and my parents decided to stop at a roadside chips’ truck for a snack. I refused to get out of the car—because I WASN’T WEARING MAKEUP!! What did I think would happen? That the chip truck attendants would scoff at my slovenliness? That the teaming throng of hot young 13-year-olds would condemn me on sight because … I was wearing no mascara???!!! My parents, as you can imagine, were aghast. I huddled in the car, determined to keep up the bargain I had made with my self-slash-the devil.
It took many years of growing up to develop a sense that I was okay without makeup. Interestingly, I get as many compliments for my fresh-scrubbed look (“so natural!”) as I do for my makeupped version (“so nice!”). Rather more interesting, these compliments often come from two different sets of people. Hence, the certain sense that one man/woman’s idea of beauty is another man/woman’s “yeah, whatevs”. To this day, I go without a second thought to the gym without a stitch of makeup, but when I get ready for my day—which is often midday!—I don’t think twice about applying my routine look: under-eye concealer, mascara, eyeliner (on inside of upper lashes), brow brush. If I’m getting more dressed up, say for an audition or a night out: the same, plus eye shadow, blush and lipstick (I never wear foundation).
I—get this—just feel better with that little bit of makeup. Even if I’m the exact same person. I want to know that if I catch my reflection somewhere—in a window, in a mirror—I look a certain way (ie a bit of pop in the eyes, not as much of a dark circle underneath). But the question remains: why do I feel better? Is it because I feel brighter? Or is it because of this engrained notion that my looks must be amplified in order for me to be valued?
I doubt my mind-set will ever change vis a vis my face and its adornments. I will always love a special outfit or a pretty necklace or a lovely fragrance. These things will always make me feel better, even if they don’t exactly “make me”. But why?
These are 2 photos from my files (I'd wanted to do a little session for you, but lost track of time). Sorry for the poor quality: they're with my computer camera, but they are reasonably similar in composition and timing. The first is not a stitch of makeup, at work at my computer, the second is my "day look" (but also showing off the gorgeous necklace a friend gave me).
PS As another point of interest, someone once asked Deb and I how we could dare show our non-makeupped faces on the blog. Not like an insult, but like a truly perplexed, couldn't-undestand-the-logic question. Obviously there was a time when I would NOT! But no more. This is me, baby.
Deb: When I think of makeup it always amuses me that it was men who first started wearing it and women who ended up getting stuck with it! :-) As for me, I am not an obsessed makeup gal either. Like Barb, I will go out without it. When I am in my ‘hood, just shopping around and doing chores, I more than often go out without any at all. I am fine with my naked face and quite comfortable with it. When I am in the house for the day doing house chores, I never wear makeup, but I certainly do my face for events and for anything social. Like Barb, I do not dramatically change my look. It does help to have long black eyelashes and that makes it easy when I am sporting the natural look. As to why we feel better with makeup, I don’t know. I guess it’s because we sat at our mother’s dressing tables as tots while they put on their faces and thought how glamourous it was and how pretty they looked. It was a right of passage, this makeup. Made us feel grown up. And when I am getting ready to go out on a date with my husband and I see a little colour on my cheeks and lips and the depth of my eyes popping, I feel pretty. Can’t help it. I like the naked faced Deb in the mirror, but I also love to see my “Sunday go to meeting face”.