Sometimes a blog post needs to percolate in my head for a while. This one started out as a vaguely apologetic examination of why I’ve gotten out of the habit of wearing makeup lately, but the more the idea fermented, the less apologetic I was feeling. In fact, I’m feeling rather defiant about the whole issue now, perhaps in part thanks to an article I read on Jezebel called Please don’t tell me that I look better without make-up. It’s not so much that I disagree with the author, or that I have some moral opposition to makeup and those who wear it – I am just over feeling apologetic about my choice to not to wear it.
For me, this is about overcoming insecurity and the ridiculous notion that I must wear makeup or else appear like I was “letting myself go” or the idea that women of (ahem) a certain age need makeup to make up for the loss of dewy youthfulness. It’s the idea of makeup being mandatory that irks me – that you would feel like you couldn’t leave the house without it, or that going around without makeup is like going around in a stained shirt and torn trackpants.
If you wear makeup and love it, great! I’m glad it works for you. It has never worked for me, though. I wore makeup for years because I felt like I had to, because I was supposed to, because I wasn’t attractive enough without it. Except I was never particularly good at applying it, so I never felt terrific when I was wearing it, either – I felt self-conscious either way, but I was self-conscious AND uncomfortable when I was wearing makeup. Up until recently, I felt obligated to wear makeup to the office in the same way I’d wear work-appropriate clothes. Except I love dressing up in my work clothes, and I just felt hassled by remembering to put on makeup.
Now that I’ve more or less given it up entirely, I’m feeling rather liberated. Here’s five reasons why I’m happy that I finally got over the idea that I was obligated to wear makeup:
1. It’s expensive. I learned young that you pretty much get what you pay for with cosmetics, and when I did wear makeup I was a sucker for the higher-end brands. It’s especially expensive if you follow the recommended guidelines and replace it every few months but you only ever apply it often enough to use 1/10 of the container. I can’t tell you how many mostly-full eyeshadows and mascaras I pitched because I couldn’t remember how many years old they were.
2. It’s a hassle. You have to remember to put it on, and you have to remember to take it off again. Getting eye-makeup off is an even bigger PITA than getting it on properly. And you have to remember not to rub your eyes, or cry, or lick your lips. And you have to carry a patch kit, and have spare makeup stashed in your desk or purse for the days you forget to put it on before you leave the house. And it doesn’t stay on your face – you get foundation on your pillow cases and lipstick on your coffee mug. Ick.
3. It’s unhealthy – or, at least, my skin is healthier without it. “U.S. researchers identified 10,500 industrial chemicals used as cosmetic ingredients, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxics, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants,” according to the David Suzuki foundation. Sure there are toxin-free alternatives out there, but they’re usually even more expensive. And sure, there are chemicals in my shampoo and moisturizer and everything else I touch all day long, but if I’m eliminating one more source of toxins, so much the better, right?
4. It changes the way you look. I know, duh, that’s the point, right? But I don’t like the idea that how you see me is through a layer of paint. I don’t like the fact that if I wear makeup nine days out of ten on that tenth day you see me and say, “Wow, she looks like shit today” because I’m not wearing my war paint.
5. It’s a self-perpetuating tyranny. This is linked to the previous point. The more often you wear makeup, the more you feel obligated to wear it and the more like you don’t feel like yourself if you aren’t wearing it. You-in-makeup becomes baseline you, so you without makeup is somehow not as good.
This is me, unvarnished. No make-up – and no Instagram filter, either. (Not even with the white balance and exposure adjusted, which is way harder for me than not wearing makeup.)
Ha, it is so much harder to take and post a photo like this than to leave the house without makeup! Eek! But I have to admit, unlike the author of the Jezebel article, I DO feel like I look better without makeup — and I’m more than happy to hear you tell me so!
So what do you think? Why do we feel apologetic about NOT wearing makeup? Do you feel makeup because you love it, because you feel like you have to, or you don’t bother? Is it about being pretty, or your sense of self? Does it bother you to leave the house without fixing your face first?
What say ye, bloggy peeps?
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