*This is an archived post from my first blog Smile, Sugar. It got a lot of praise, so I want to repost it here. This post was originally written and shared in spring 2016.*
A confession: I love makeup.
This is a bit about myself I never wanted to admit. You see, liking makeup isn’t something I can simply acknowledge and go about with my business. Oh no – saying I like makeup is the antithesis of the insecure views I once clutched to like they were my lifeline.
It’s no secret I used to the think I was ugly. Like, my day got a little worse every time I looked in the mirror ugly. Like, please to don’t look at me ugly. Like, can I disappear forever ugly. Like, no one would ever love me ugly.
Desperate to be beautiful and loved, I thought makeup could be my cure – I would be okay if learned how to line my eyes and apply lipstick like the girls in movies and shows. When I was in 7th grade, my mom took a classmate and I out shopping where this other young
girl guided me in the ways of makeup. She helped me pick out a powder, a blush, a mascara, and a few other pieces. We then went back to my house where she taught me how to put it all on. The next few days at school, I honestly felt pretty.
However, the makeup began to make me feel worse than I already did. I didn’t actually look that way. I loved that I felt pretty with it, but when the makeup came off and I saw my face again in the mirror, it was a sticky spoonful of sadness. I began to reject the makeup, only wearing it occasionally.
I thought if I wore makeup, I was a liar. It was better for me to be honest about my perceived ugliness instead of trying to hide it. I decided out of self-righteousness I was better than other girls who wore it because they were clearly fake. They were insecure and couldn’t bear to go about in the world without painting on their lies. The beautiful faces that surrounded me weren’t real and it was their fault I felt bad about myself. It was them and their makeup that were the problem, not me.
Soo… imagine how strange I felt as I became more confident and grew an increasing desire to wear makeup. Awkward much?
My world view became disoriented. I was starting to like myself: I smiled when I looked in the mirror, and there wasn’t this throbbing phantom ache inside me. I mean, I was starting to linger in front of my reflection because have you seen this cutie??
How could I feel so good about myself yet want to wear makeup?
I got a little perspective on how confident people use makeup when I saw this video from Anna Akana. In her video, Anna relates makeup to psychological traits and behaviors. She calls eye shadow optimism, foundation balance, and blush kindness. These cute alterations are impactful in shifting one’s understanding of makeup. For someone like myself who had demonized it so much, it made me view it in a wholly positive way. How can a girl touching up her kindness be bad?
I began to learn that makeup wasn’t what I thought it was. Makeup was and is a form of expression and the extension of self. When you put it on, you aren’t putting on a mask – you are extending yourself, putting your personality and who you are on your face. I can be delicate, intense, quirky, adventurous, classic, bold, and anything I want to be. I can be a classic babe teasing my words through red lips or a porcelain doll with long-lashed eyes and pinked cheeks. All these facets of myself can be fully expressed with the help of makeup.
While I was never actually ugly, my thoughts were. I was full of anger and sadness and hurt, and it showed in how I presented myself. I was only ugly because it was how I felt. It was on me to realize nothing outside of myself was going to make me happy – no amount of makeup could cover me up and hide what I thought about myself. When my thoughts became beautiful, I realized I was beautiful. Makeup is just a way to enhance it and express myself like wearing a pretty outfit.
There are people in the world who will want to be vicious about a person’s choice to wear makeup. As seen in My Pale Skin’s video You Look Disgusting, people will be cruel either way. When I apply my balance, optimism, and kindness, I have to know it is for myself, not others. I am doing it for expression, not beauty, because I already am beautiful.
While I’m still not slaying with cat eyes or contour, I’m a happy work-in-progress. I celebrate days where I go natural and days where I doll myself up. Both are representative of me. Now excuse me, I need to go touch up my kindness.