When I was younger I watched my mom effortlessly apply makeup to her already beautiful face. I thought to myself, “I can’t wait until I can wear that stuff.” Not because I thought my mom needed it, but because I assumed every young girl transitioned into womanhood with the help of makeup.
My first tangible run-in with makeup started at the local CVS in Providence, Rhode Island. My sisters and I would walk four blocks down the street with our bestie to peruse the makeup aisles, oohing and aahing over the pretty pink glosses and sparkly shadows. Again I thought to myself, “I can’t wait until I can wear this stuff.”
The glossy covered magazines did nothing but reinforce my need for makeup. Women’s faces with perfectly placed liners and blemish free bronzed skin adorned every teen or grownup magazine. I did not know the meaning of Photoshop or the fact that it was used to make women flawless.
I wanted to wear makeup to look like them. I, as a twelve-year-old girl, wanted to be flawless. I, as a twelve-year-old girl, wanted to look sexy. I know there’s something wrong with that.
I’d ask my mom over and over, “When can I start wearing makeup?” She’d tell me, “Honey, you don’t need makeup.” Of course she was right, but I just wanted to try it like my tween peers at the time.
Eventually, she gifted me a cheap eye shadow palate that I had no idea how to use.
With my torso slightly bent over the bathroom sink and face close to the mirror, I used the tip of my pointer finger and rubbed the sticky silver shadow onto my eyelids. That was it. No mascara. No eye liner. Nothing but sticky silver eye shadow.
I probably glided on a dark maroon gloss to my lips to “complete” the look. I can’t remember if my mom commented on the new me or not, but I know I ran straight down the street to show off my shiny silver lids to my bestie.
Her mom said with an East Coast accent, “Ooooh, you look great, Jessica!” I actually believed it.
Unlike what seems to be most fellow 25-year-olds, the makeup thing never stuck with me. I tried my hand at foundations, fake lashes, and smokey eyes, but the routine always seemed daunting. I could never get myself to look like those women on the magazine covers.
Today, I understand the concept of Photoshop. I realize every magazine staring at me from the checkout lines of grocery stores and drug stores portray unrealistic versions of women. Whether that means computer tools erased face zits or created a thinner body, the butchered women on magazine covers should not make a 12-year-old wish to be like them.
My daughter is 8 months old. When she was born, I looked at her button nose and big blue eyes and thought, God, you are perfect. I assume most parents feel this way about their children.
However, society does a great job at making young girls (and boys) insecure and women (and men) feel ugly.
I understand a large part of my daughter’s confidence will be shaped with education and showing her people are beautiful inside and out no matter what. I will tell her she doesn’t need makeup, but maybe she’ll be just like me at twelve, thirteen or fourteen years old.
No matter what, the truth is I am comfortable walking around with a bare face, but it doesn’t mean other women need to be or want to be.
You keep doing you, ladies. Rock a bare face or rock your makeup. Your beauty is found in everything you do.