The answer is simple: Nothing.
I hate makeup. It’s something I’ve been indentured to since age eleven when my first pimples lit on my face. I come from a long line of compulsive pickers, and I’m no different. I made a nasty mess of my skin every opportunity I got throughout my teens and early twenties in an ill fated effort to, I don’t know, fix it by force or something.
As a hairstylist in college, my job required me to “look like I was going on a nice date,” and that included a full face of makeup, hair done, nice clothes. It went against everything I was growing into, and my off-duty look was one of few bras, lots of thrifting, and little to no styling. The boss at one point downloaded the entire American Apparel catalog, printed it out and hung it in our break room as a PSA “to all employees” of what attire was off limits. I knew it was directed at me and only me.
I joined YouTube a year ago, hell bent on making a splash. What happened instead was that I found new reasons that I didn’t fit in. (YouTube isn’t to blame for that. It’s a community of amazing and talented misfits who all deserve to shine. My problem is I’m impatient, but that’s for another post.) Mainly I was trying to embrace my beautician background and my knowledge of light, color and proportion, all the time fighting what I’d known about myself for years: I am not a makeup girl.
Sure, it’s a means to an end. After all I haven’t crunched hard numbers on the issue, but I’m anecdotally sure that people are nicer to me when I look like I’ve put myself together. People tend to liken the “zombie” look of going makeup-less with having had a “long night” or something. And those terrifying zits that erupt from our faces and seem to take months to leave are enough reason to at least own makeup, if not become adept at applying it.
But when did we decide that the standard of beauty was Kylie Jenner? (Or any Kardashijenner for that matter.) She’s a 17-year-old with lip injections and eight pounds of NARS contour on her face, with her surgically-fat-injected rear end tucked into a Balmain crop set who, by all accounts, is just as entertained by her ever-evolving facial features as her fans are. Who wouldn’t be at that age? To have every impulse and insecurity indulged by your deep-pocketed momager and doting-but-clueless dad-turned-Caitlyn? I know, we’re off the rails. The greater meaning here is that this is not reality.
Reality is the chase. The pursuit. I don’t need to belabor this part; Advertising is unrealistic, models’ looks are unattainable, only Gigi Hadid is Gigi Hadid and them’s the breaks, kid. But is it really so bad?
At the top is an untouched picture of my face, hashtag-no-makeup. Like I said, I’ve been cruelly digging holes in it, burning it off with harsh chemicals, and piling loads of this and that on it for nearly twenty years now and you know what? I prefer it to made-up me. And once I decided to prioritize taking care of my skin over painting it to the nines every day, I found that there was a lot less invitation to pick. Funny how that works.
Here’s my question: While we’re busy shaking off society’s terms for imperfections in our feminine physiques (read: “saddlebags” are a no-no now), why are we still embracing society’s condemnation for “dark circles” and “age spots”? It’s your face! There’s nothing WRONG with it.
Every time I would flat iron my hair dead straight like a broom as a teenager, my mom would always say, “God, I can’t wait for THAT trend to be over.” And I remember the day I decided to try going without the flat iron. I looked weird. I felt less confident. It wasn’t a victorious moment, but more of admitting defeat. I would never have real straight hair, and it was time to throw in the towel and settle for a less perfect me.
But I got used to looking at me in the mirror. After that I thought I looked weird with my hair flat ironed, not the other way around. And it was the same way with my face, weird at first, and then incredibly liberating.
I still wear makeup on special occasions, or when I’m feeling particularly motivated before work in the morning, but I think a smile and a confident attitude is all I really need to overcome the little insecurities my bare face might bring to light. Now when I feel the need to wear “special event” makeup for an office party or something, I find myself longing for the moment in the evening when I get to wash it all off and be me again.
Not everyone is like me, of course. If you’re into makeup, cheers. I have a staggering stash of Sephora spoils that have both wowed and disappointed me for various reasons, and I don’t think wearing makeup makes you less of a confident person at the end of the day. All I’m saying is to try to love the face underneath first and foremost – warts and all, as they say. After all, it’s you. What’s more beautiful than that?