I’ve been thinking about makeup lately…
Bear with me a second.
When I was young, my mom was an Avon lady and then later a Mary Kay lady. She used to use makeup all the time, and taught me when I was around 14ish how to do my own. Maybe younger? I forget. Back then I wasn’t super interested in “girly” things, though. She had this super cute, very fashionable style and she’d buy me things on these great deals at thrift stores or wherever she found great discounts, cute skirts or dresses or the likes, but I hated wearing anything but pants. Oversized ones, at that. I didn’t wear much makeup back in the day, but when I got contacts I did start wearing more because my eyes were more visible than they had been behind my thick ass glasses.
Time passed, it’s probably a boring and long story, eventually I started wearing cuter clothes. Venturing out in my own style.
YouTube became a thing. I started slowly learning more techniques by following people.
For my 30th birthday, I saved up and bought myself LASIK. My eyesight was ATROCIOUS. I literally couldn’t do most eye makeup looks because I couldn’t see. In order to see what I was doing, I had to be too close to the mirror. The brush handle would hit the mirror and I couldn’t do anything. But I didn’t like wearing my contacts while doing too much eyeshadow or mascara (at all, I HATED wearing mascara with contacts) because shit ALWAYS got into my eyes somehow and it was a mess with the contacts, and then I’d ruin the eye makeup getting the contacts out and flushing my eyes and ugh. Just. Ugh.
But after LASIK, my makeup game really accelerated. I realized I could actually fucking see now. I could actually do shit with my eyes. And the thing is, my eyes are the one thing about myself I’ve always loved, even throughout my anorexic episodes, even throughout depression or just, everything and anything. I have found reasons to criticize literally every part of me, except my eyes. I love their color. They’re like a mix of grey and blue with a bit of a weird hazel-green sort of??? When close enough in very certain light? Mostly they read as grey-blue. Usually they just read as dark blue.
I found that makeup made me really happy. I could switch things up completely day to day if I felt like it. Where my clothing was dictated by my weight, by my comfort, by my body dysmorphia, my face remained enough the same that I had a canvas every day that didn’t make me feel bad about myself. It didn’t matter if I looked ugly with or without makeup – it let me play up what I wanted to that day, or downplay what I wanted other days.
I emphasized my eyes only for the longest time; did a lot of eye makeup, didn’t have a clue how to do the face aside from foundation, had no idea you could even PUT anything in your eyebrows, and always used only chapstick because I felt weird putting color on my lips. Partially because I thought I looked odd but mostly because I’m messy AF and I get that shit ALL OVER MY FACE like I’m a toddler digging into her first cake.
Seriously. How the fuck does color end up everywhere when it’s on my lips but it’s a-okay when it’s chapstick? I mean?
I started getting more interested in makeup. Getting more daring. Instead of varying the same shades on my eyes I started looking for bolder colors, more variation. Colors I never would have ever thought to use in the past: yellow, chartreuse, orange, red, green, it didn’t matter. I could do whatever I wanted. I could experiment. I could do so much.
After LASIK, I realized mascara wasn’t as terrifying, which meant my eyes started standing out even more now fully framed in black. And when I learned how to do light contouring, when I started using blush, when I hopped on the highlighter train and never looked back, when I darkened my already dark eyebrows and saw it actually does make a difference holy shit what the fuck–
Every step along the way, it was fun, it was exciting, it was entertaining. And most of all, it let me be expressive.
Recently, I found a matte lipstick which FOR ONCE actually stays on my lips, doesn’t budge, and doesn’t go everywhere. And because of that, I’m now trying all sorts of colors on my lips for the first time ever. I used to try here and there but I’d make it an hour or two and wipe it off and put on chapstick instead. Now it stays all day.
In the process, I’ve had lip colors I never had before. Lilac, deep brown, purple, blue, even other colors. Basically anything other than light pink which I always used to do because that was my lip gloss option that seemed to work okay. But when I started expanding my eyeshadow game, using warm-toned lips with cool-toned eyes clashed too much, and I’ve started expanding again.
Recently, I realized something that startled me. The one thing I always was a little sad about for my eyes was a minor thing — I LOVE the color, but I wished the grey read stronger than the blue, because I think it’s pretty to have that grey hue. But you can’t really change your own eye color, you know? And with my complexion and hair color, the blue was always going to read the strongest. But what startled me was one day when I had a cool-toned eye color and wore dark lips for the first time pretty much ever, to my surprise when I looked in the mirror, I felt like the grey read a lot stronger. It was still clearly blue eyes, but a lot more grey-blue than blue-grey.
And that was so exciting! Here I have a way, for the first time in my life, to make the variations in my irises shift based on the colors on my face. Now I can not only choose clothing that makes me happy, and makeup that makes me happy, but I can also choose to reflect more grey or more blue based primarily on how dark I make my lips. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter as much if my eye makeup is cool toned or warm toned, so much as it depends on if I have really dark lips. It’s like the darkness balances my pale ass complexion, and that then balances my eyes, which maybe puts less emphasis on the eyeshadow and more on the eye color and how it interacts with the eyeshadow. If that makes sense.
Ultimately, it means all of this makes me really happy, and makeup makes me really happy, and it’s become my primary expenditure on discretionary budget because I love it. I love how I can look completely different one day to the next not just based on what clothes I wear or how I do my hair, but in what colors I put on my face.
It’s not even necessarily about looking “pretty” – it’s about self-expression, and the freedom I have to say whatever I want at any given time based on the different products I layer in different ways on my face.
It makes me so, SO damn happy. And it lets me fulfill these weird dreams I had since I was young, to be able to have more control over which part of my eye color stands out more, in a way I never expected could happen when I was younger.
And yet, people can be so judgmental about makeup. There’s this strange assumption that spending money on makeup somehow makes you… I don’t know? Wasteful? Superficial? Maybe even unintelligent? People criticize others online for spending what they deem to be too much on makeup, but why? Why does it have to matter to you?
Other people assume women wear makeup just so they can be “hot” and be attractive to men so they’ll want to fuck them. But I’m an asexual lesbian. Men + sex couldn’t be MORE unattractive to me. I’d say it’s downright disturbing and almost disgusting to think about, for me as a person (not for others – I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all for other people to be interested in that regardless of their gender; you do you, friend! <3) I couldn’t give any fewer shits about if a guy thinks I look good or not. I don’t even do it to look “attractive” at all – I just do it for fun and for happiness.
I’ve had people sometimes first interact with me as if they assume I will be unintelligent. Like some ditzy girl. And I wonder if they are making those assumptions based on me wearing makeup and liking to wear dresses (I know, I did a total 180 – now I hate pants. Go figure.) I’ve definitely had other women throw shade at me for how I dress and how I look and it’s just… so weird. Once, when I had to go to a specialty doctor because my arm was fucked up, she told me I was going to have to get a brace and wear it a few weeks to try to fix the issue, and if that didn’t work I’d have to come back. And she looked at me and she said in this sort of disparaging tone, “You won’t be able to get it in pink. You’ll have to get it in black.” Something like that. And I was just so thrown off I burst out laughing. What the actual fuck? I can’t use my fucking arm properly. I don’t give a fuck what color the goddamn brace is, are you kidding me?? I just want my arm fixed. But she acted like I was this superficial ditzbomb whose only concern was how I looked?? I mean does a person like that actually even exist? Who would say, “WHAT? It’s not in PINK? Then I’m going to do permanent damage to my arm! Fuck that! I can’t be seen dead without the right color brace!” Not to mention I wore nothing pink-related that day. I was wearing all browns and blacks and creams. So black matched better anyway?? And if you’re wondering if I was done up like I was going to the Oscars, I wasn’t. I had on a comfortable brown/black dress, some black leggings, a pair of little black shoes, and makeup. That’s it. Nothing special.
But for some people, for some reason a woman just wearing anything “feminine” and wearing makeup is enough for her to be dismissed as not intelligent, or as being superficial, or self-involved. And these are all such weird fucking assumptions and stereotypes, when you think about it, because it’s solely looking at the cut and color of clothing, and what products were put on one’s face. It’s not about the person, it’s about the way others view that presentation of themselves.
And this would be fine, but for some people, anything “feminine” is seen as inherently Lesser Than, whether they realize it or not. That’s the same reason men are looked down upon for being too “feminine” or for wearing “feminine” clothing or wearing makeup. Why gay men are looked down upon. Why transmen get a bit less shit than transwomen do. Because a man “lowering” “him”self to being a woman in any form is unacceptable. And a woman being too “womanly” is unacceptable. If there’s too much femininity, it just goes to show that person shouldn’t be taken seriously, or should be dismissed as being too worried about their outer looks, or perhaps they’re too seductive or just want to look good for men because that’s all that matters in this world. How a man feels. Or how women perceive a man will feel about another woman and therefore how that should dictate how that woman should interact with the other woman.
I’m just someone who loves makeup because I love how fun it is, I love the self-expression, and I love how daring and bold I can get with colors and it always washes away at the end of the day. I’m too afraid of needles and not strong enough with commitment to ever get a tattoo, so this is my version of a tattoo instead. It’s much less permanent, and lets me change my mind a lot more. And bonus Jonas, it’s completely pain-free! (Except when I get makeup in my eyes still just what even how is this still even a thing?!)
I really wasn’t able to come fully into my happy makeup-wearing self, to emphasize the things I love most like my eyes, until my eyes were fixed and I understood more the art behind makeup instead of using it as a quick coverall for blemishes or a way to protect my skin from the sun.
I don’t really have a moral of the story on all this, by the way. I was just thinking about makeup, and how weird it is that people can be so judgmental or make such snap assessments based on it, when their conclusions are so based in stereotypes yet they don’t seem to realize it consciously at lot of times.
And as for the idea that it’s inherently wasteful or a poor decision to spend a lot of money on makeup — who gets to make that decision? Would it inherently be better to spend that same amount of money on a car? On video games? On books? On lessons? On subscriptions? On whatever else? None of these are inherently good or bad things to spend your money on, they’re just options. I would of course argue books and education are great priorities, but they also don’t affect your daily life except as hobbies or self-improvement. They’re a bit more of an internal focus than an external one. And I love me an internal focus, don’t get me wrong. But why do things always have to be either/or, black and white, good and bad, right and wrong? Why can’t it just be understood that hey, yeah, let’s spend money on food, and sure, go for it buying books or going out or whatever you want.
You do you.
But if someone wants to spend that money on makeup, that doesn’t inherently make them wrong or bad. It just makes them someone who likes makeup for whatever their reason may be. And if that’s how they choose to spend their money, it shouldn’t be judged or questioned any more harshly than anything else would be judged or questioned. For that matter, we shouldn’t be judging or questioning how anyone spends their own money. It’s up to them.
And if wearing makeup makes them happy every day, how is that an unintelligent, superficial, seductive, or stupid choice? How is it a bad thing, to make yourself smile over something that lets you feel completely free to express yourself without words being necessary? Shouldn’t that be seen as a really cool thing, instead?
Oh and PS: since I buy a lot of things, of course a lot of stuff ends up not working for me. You can’t really easily test things out when it comes to makeup. I don’t throw it away, though — I give it away to others. I give a lot away to friends, family, and social service groups who can accept it in the right form. That’s something else I love about makeup: it lets me share the love, lets me give other people an excuse to be a little daring by getting something for free they would never try, themselves. It lets me see others smile.
And, again, how is that a bad thing?