It started as an experiment.
At first it was easy– I don’t usually wear makeup in the summer because it’s hot and I work outside a lot and I drip sweat like a melting polar ice cap so I don’t bother with it. But my makeup bag stayed closed even on nights out with the girls and date nights and on trips to places where my picture might get taken.
It felt freeing, but I also kind of felt like a fraud. I needed a real test.
So I went back to work in September makeup free.
Now I get that there are a lot of women who don’t wear makeup. Many of my friends and teaching colleagues don’t. And I never wore a ton of it– your basic foundation, eye shadow, eye liner and mascara.
But I’d been wearing it since 5th grade.
And now that I’m in my 40s, the lines are deeper, the skin pigmentations are stronger, the dark circles are darker.
So why quit now?
Because about a year ago Kathleen asked me why I wore makeup.
Several answers ran through my head– I look prettier, it hides my flaws, it highlights my strong points, I look more professional…
But all of those answers made me cringe. I HAD no real answer.
So I said fuck it and stopped.
My six month old experiment is over with now, but it has led to a permanent change. I was going to give myself until school pictures. I figured I might possibly be so grossed out by my photo that I would go running back to Cover Girl.
It wasn’t SO bad. But I was still unsure.
There’s a set of memes going around on Twitter that look like this:
Like saying ,”We women just can’t win! We’re never able to please everyone!”
And I have a problem with that message.
The thing is, I AM tired. I AM old. I AM often stressed and overworked. And I resemble the picture on the right with alarming accuracy…
But who gives a fuck? Aren’t we all? And isn’t that what the whole movement to understand mental illness is about? That I shouldn’t have to hide and pretend and cover up the outside to hide what’s going on inside?
And isn’t being honest the mantra we teach our daughters? That beauty comes from within? That she doesn’t have to change herself to be attractive? That people will like her for who she is and not what she looks like?
So fuck it.
I’m done with makeup. I’m done with doing things because the omnipresent “society” says I should so I can stay valuable as a human being. I’ll do things because I want to and no other reason. I’ll work out because it makes my body and mind feel better and I’ll eat a donut (or three) for the same reason.
Society only sends you messages if you’re listening for them. (It just got all deep up in here, yo)
I have a permanently red nose. NOT FROM BEING DRUNK. Mostly.
I have sun spots across my nose, cheeks and jawline from too many sunburns.
I have bags under my eyes that could fit a week’s worth of vacation clothes.
I have so many lines that I imagine little flea geologists study me like their human counterparts study the Grand Canyon.
And I found that this decision doesn’t just benefit Kathleen (I hope). My kids and husband still love me. My students still listen and laugh at me. My friends still hang out with me.
My face is just a face. Flawed, scarred and aged. Just like me.