There are many lessons in my hypothetical ‘school for real life’ that I’ve missed out on. I missed the lesson where they taught you how to stop biting your nails. And the one where they taught you how to fall out of love. And I missed the one where you learn how to speak eloquently in public. All of these I deem useful skills that I wish, everyday, that I’d mastered many years ago.
There’s another lesson that I missed. It’s how to apply and wear makeup.
When I was at school I used to paint foundation on to my face. It was completely the wrong colour too. I walked around looking like a budget version of a clown for a couple of years and no one ever said anything. So that was great. At the time, my heavily made-up face served as some sort of shield. I could pretend to be someone who I thought was better. I could hide the ‘flaws’ magazines and the judgemental people told me I had. Big pores, bags under my eyes, acne. Things that in hindsight could not get better by slapping chemicals all over the top of them.
Now I’m a little less flappy about my appearance, so I don’t really care if some person in the street notices the big spot on my chin or my red nose (and no one really even notices that kinda stuff anyway). I can’t contour like RuPaul and Bianca Del Rio and I’ll probably never be able to so I admire their skills from afar and leave the house in all my bare-faced glory.
I know there are people who love make-up and the way it makes them look and feel. I get it. I do. And I respect your choices to put on your face whatever makes you feel good. I’m just not one of you.
I don’t wear makeup on a day to day basis. I, ehem.. ‘go bare-faced’. It saves time and keeps my anxiety levels way, way down. I’m not worrying if I’ve smudged anything or whatever because YOU CAN’T SMUDGE YOUR BARE FACE!
Every now and then, when I’m feeling a little off peak (by off peak I mean slightly sleepy or down) I might make my eyes extra big with some badly applied mascara, or my face a little less red with some fluffed about power. Even then, though, I want to scrape it all off with my (very very bitten) fingernails as a voice in my head shouts “THIS IS NOT MY FACE. IT WILL NEVER BE MY FACE.”
I don’t see it as a shield anymore, like baby clown me did back in school. It’s just something else that I don’t particularly enjoy about being a woman. What annoys me is that the presence of makeup has been accepted as the ‘norm’.
I watched a documentary a few years ago about a woman who woke up an hour earlier than her husband to apply a full face of make up and then she’d go back to sleep so that when he woke up she would look… I don’t know… perfect? Yeah, let’s say perfect. It seems a little sad, doesn’t it? She didn’t want her husband to see her ‘bare-faced’ naturalness, she thought her made-up face was better.
I think, I’m glad I missed out on that lesson at my hypothetical ‘school for real life’. I recognise my face as my face. I don’t feel the desire to change it, I don’t want to make people think that it looks different than it really does. And if I can accept my face for the acne-scared, red nosed, bagged eyes, big pored and poor complexioned face that it is, then there’s no way in hell I’m going to let anybody change my damn mind.
Go forth and bare face!