Made Up

make upNo one has seen me without makeup for the past decade.

It all started when I was twelve. My mother had a rule – seventh grade would be each of her daughters’ coming of age, so to speak, and that mean makeup, the tweezing of brows, and the like.

She insisted throughout the entirety of my childhood and adolescence that my appearance reflected on her ability to parent effectively. If I looked a mess, it made her look a mess, and vice-versa. In her mind, I suppose this logic justified the hell’s version of “What Not to Wear” that became my life.

Throughout my childhood, there were always rules as to what I should look like – I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts to school (they were too casual). I had to wear a dress or skirt to school at least three times a week. Everything had to match – always. I was the only six year old who knew that dots and stripes never went together, and that wearing navy blue and black at the same time was a major faux pas.

When makeup became a “have to”, however, a new era began. My mother was an expert at telling whether or not you had it on, and whether you were wearing the right amount. No blush? I looked too pale. No eyeliner or mascara? My eyes looked like “two piss holes in the snow.” From seventh grade forward, I took hell if I tried to leave the house without makeup on, without my eyebrows tweezed the right way, or, god forbid, in clothes that didn’t match or fit properly.

The more I wore it, the less normal I felt without it, even though deep down I wanted nothing to do with the stuff. Suddenly, my skin didn’t feel right without concealer, I DID look too pale without blush, and well, my eyes were more appealing with the appropriate shadow/liner/mascara combo. I became as obsessed with makeup as my mother, in the sense that I stopped trying to sneak out of the house in the morning without it, and started to refuse to go anywhere unless I had it on.

I know that my blogs aren’t usually arenas of confession, however, my statement at the beginning of this post is entirely true – no one has seen me without makeup for the past ten years. I no longer feel comfortable if I don’t have it on. It’s like going out without a bra – as if I’ve left without something significant and everyone can probably tell it’s missing.

Perhaps more interesting – or more unsettling – is that there are people in my life who believe that surely they have seen me without makeup. My ex fiance, for example, or countless other people with whom I have had significant relationships, or the people with whom I’ve traveled, or, perhaps, my family. But the truth is, they haven’t. For me, “no makeup” has become equivalent to “just concealer – perhaps a tinted moisturizer – and some powder.”

Times that I claim to not have any makeup on, I am wearing both.

I put it on as soon as I get out of the shower.

I wash my face and put it on when I go to bed.

I have it on when I wake up in the morning.

When I work out, when I eat, when I watch television, and whether or not I know I will see people or not.

I am no longer sure of whether to identify this as a need, habit, or compulsion, and it is one of the things that frightens me about myself. Despite the zeal with which I have upheld my mother’s rule, there is still a very recognizable part of my consciousness that recognizes it as unnecessary, and frankly, a little insane.

It’s on the list to be conquered. It took me years to stop kind-of-obsessively matching my underthings to my outfit (in case I was ever in an ambulance and they had to remove my clothes, of course. What would the EMT think if  my underwear just didn’t go?!), so I’m sure that being seen without makeup is at least a possibility.

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