Made Up – Facing the Day

If I had to sum up my feelings on makeup in one photo, it might look a little something like this

On an average day,
I wake up, wash my face, look in the mirror
And think, “Yup. That’s my face.”
And maybe, “Oh, pimples” or “Hm, eyes”
And then move on, because who has time for anything else.

I don’t wear makeup.
I hate wearing makeup.
I tell people I only wear makeup
For shows and for weddings
And even then, only if it’s the wedding of someone I like

I break my own rule
More than I’d like, sometimes
Professional obligations where a professional woman is expected
To have finishing touches on her face to be “finished.”

On a non-average day
(where I’m wearing makeup)
I wash my face with trepidation
Dry it in anxious anticipation
And look, and look, and look
For all of the flaws I need to hide
Because if I’m not getting them all, then what’s the point?

My skin is pretty good
I have good days and bad ones
My skin is not perfect
I get breakouts from stress
And dark circles under my eyes
And I’m porcelain pale
But no major complaints

I want to say that my objection to my face getting
Made up
Is a feminism thing
(Boo gender double-standard, arr patriarchy, &c.)
And it kind of is,
But I mostly just hate the feeling of stuff on my face
And I hate the looking the mirror
And picking my appearance apart

Some women use makeup for artful expression and clever craft
Some women don’t like to face the world until they have their signature
I don’t begrudge anyone that, really.
You can do pretty fun things with makeup,
If you know what you’re doing

But I’ve known women who put on makeup
So much or so constantly
That when they don’t have it,
It’s like something is wrong
Like they feel naked
Like they aren’t recognizable without a layer
Over all their little imagined imperfections

I like my imperfections
I own my imperfections
Dark circles from not-enough-sleep?
You bet. I work long hours.
Breakouts from stress?
Hell yes. I work hard.
Pale skin?
Guilty as charged. Doesn’t matter how much sun I get – I’ll just burn.

I look in the mirror to get made up,
And all I can see
Are the things I need to cover.
And when I take off makeup,
All I can see
Are the things I was hiding, like they’re brand new
And so very disappointing

(I’m going to wear makeup for our wedding.
I’m fine with wearing makeup for our wedding.
I’m paying someone else to put on my makeup for our wedding.
I’m not going through that
mirror stare-down
self esteem tear-down
for our wedding.)

I’m not trying to say what’s right for everyone,
I’m not trying to deny anyone the joy of their favorite eye shadow,
This is just about trying to explain what’s right for me
And why it’s right for me

And the reason why it’s right for me
Is that I don’t want to cover up, accentuate, flatter, or play against
Who I am
I don’t need an extra layer.
I don’t need to feel like I’m wearing a mask.
I don’t need to be the prettiest version of myself every day.
I want to face the world with my face
Not a face that’s just
Made up


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