Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's on YOUR Face?

I'm in a makeup phase right now. I put it on most days before leaving the house. Even if I'm not going anywhere particularly exciting. I have a sort of complicated relationship with makeup. And, I'm telling you this because Clara told me to, and I always do what Clara tells me to do.

Okay, so this is probably the first time Clara has ever told me to do something. And, she didn't so much *tell* me as suggest that I write about my on-again-off-again love affair with the face paint when I alluded to some complicated feelings in the comments of this post.

I don't always wear makeup. At least not the way I have been lately. Sometimes it's just a bit of pressed powder and some lip gloss. Or some eyeliner if I'm feeling particularly crazy. These days I can be found strolling the aisles of Target with a face full of the stuff: foundation, blush, eye shadow, mascara, and my old friend, lip gloss. And by "these days" I mean the last four or five days. In a few more days I'll probably be back to wearing...chapstick. And, I'll continue to go back and forth for probably the rest of my life. I have Multiple Makeup Personality Disorder.

As a little girl I loved dressing up, painting my nails, and those rare occasions I was allowed to play with my mom's or my babysitter's makeup stash. I remember one day my babysitter, Linda, was putting makeup on me, my sister, and her daughter, Jennifer. Jenny and I are blonde, and my sister is brunette. I remember Linda telling us that blondes should wear darker makeup to contrast with our light hair, and girls with dark hair should wear lighter makeup. This pretty much contrasts with my current, though admittedly limited, knowledge of makeup rules. But, hey, it was the eighties! So, somewhere there exists a picture of my sister in a yellow sundress with the most delicate and "barely there" makeup on her face, standing next to what appear to be a couple of underage hookers. It's hilarious. Ah, I miss those days!

I spent most of my adolescence trying to figure out how to wear makeup properly. I endured lectures from my friends on how I wasn't following the curve of my lips with the lipliner. They helped me pick out shades of powder that would supposedly match my skin tone. I can't tell you how many times I have attempted "smokey eyes," only to have to wipe all the shadow off my lids immediately afterwards. Because when I do it, "smokey eyes" translates to "punched in the eyes."

And then there's the nail polish. I don't think I'm alone in this because otherwise we wouldn't have manicures, but I cannot for the life of me paint my own damn nails. And much like the eye shadow, there have been many occasions where I have no sooner put the stuff on when I'm wiping it all off due to a messy application. I once painted my nails black in a hurry to get to a goth nightclub. I hastily painted them while crouching behind the counter of the retail store where I was working. I got in the car before they had even dried, and by the time I arrived, it looked like I had just finished changing the oil in my car. Chris used to be really good at painting my nails neatly, and let's face it, that's pretty much why I married him. But, the other day I handed him some fuchsia polish, and the end result was DISASTER. Clearly grounds for divorce.

After twenty years or so of experimenting, I finally know how to look like a human when I walk out the door in makeup. More specifically, a human NOT dressed as a clown. But, I have found myself so conflicted about it lately. It isn't a feminist thing. I don't worry that shaving my legs and wearing lipstick makes me any less empowered than other women. After all, if we believe the mantra, feminism is about choice. So, there shouldn't be anything wrong with choosing to get dolled up if we feel like it. Of course, one could argue that I only *think* I want to do these things because I have been TRAINED BY SOCIETY, DAMNIT! But let's not swim in those murky waters right now.

I think my struggle comes more from the fact that I tend to gravitate to the more natural side of things. I try to clean with and bathe with as few chemicals as possible, generally. I buy as many natural and plant-based products as I can afford. And sometimes I get a little idealistic about wanting to look authentic and unencumbered by artificial cosmetics. Until I start to really examine my acne scars. Or the red splotches all over my face. Or my teeny, tiny eyelashes. Then I start rethinking how "authentic" I really want to look.

Or else I'll just see someone with really pretty makeup. And, I want some, too. Or I'm confronted with the rainbow of lipgloss shades. Good GOD, do I love a good lip gloss. Or sometimes I'm a five year old, and I just want to cover myself with pink sparkles from head to toe. These are the times my idealism goes out the window, and I start cruising the cosmetics aisle.

I may never commit to one style, one makeup philosophy. I may continue to be as indecisive and impressionable as I am today. But, maybe I'll just continue to hold cute babies next to my face, and no one will ever now the difference.



  1. I have a whole box full of make-up and I still have no idea how to apply most of it. Even if I did, I never have the time to wear it.

    BTW, Chris better up his nail-painting game.

  2. Oh my goodness!! This is SOOOO me!! There are entire weeks were I think, "I am going to have some pride in myself and do my makeup everyday!" As if somehow not doing my makeup means I do not have pride in myself. At any rate I usually get about 4 days in and then I realize that I actually can SLEEP if I forgo the morning makeup routine, haha. I both love it and hate it. It is my frenemy, haha!

  3. Considering that your hippie mother didn't wear makeup until she was 30, it is a wonder you even know what to do with the stuff at all. I was a bad role model in this respect, sorry. I missed out on those wild teen years.

  4. I think Linda must have been related to the make-up artist who did our faces when I was a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding. Bad scene, that. Especially combined with the floral, Laura Ashley style dresses, complete with crinoline.

    Ahhhh memories.

    I'm actually pretty good at nail painting. But I hear you on the smoky eye.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. @Lex- I know what you mean about having time to wear makeup. I have found myself applying it in the car as Chris straps Lotte into her car seat. I have gotten pretty good at the thirty second application.

  6. @Krissie- Laziness/sleepiness is also a huge factor in whether I wear makeup or not. Sometimes it just isn't worth the bother!

  7. @Mom- Yeah, how you managed to raise your younger daughter to be such a makeup enthusiast is beyond me. Allison is better than both of us put together. Must be all those years of the carefully applied black eyeliner she used to sport.

  8. @Clara- I'm going to need to see pictures of that particular bad scene...

  9. I love how everyone always thought she was the older of you two, because she always had uber-eye makeup on! Like that millennium New Year photo.

  10. I go through phases with makeup, but pretty much always put on powder and lipstick/gloss. I went through a phase where I had two drawers full of makeup. Now I've got one little bag. I like that better.

    But I do wish I could figure out that stupid smokey eye.

  11. I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE. Seriously, I thought I was the only woman on the planet who had trouble figuring out how make up is supposed to look/work/feel. This one time, I went with a friend to Sephora, and they did my face, and...oh, the horror. The whore-or, actually.

    Oh, and I got the smokey eye right exactly once, when I was going to a Cure show. Never again after that.

  12. @Perpetua- That's the perfect time to get the smokey eye right!

    My first Cure show I was trying a look that...just didn't work. Fishnets were involved. I probably shouldn't say more...