I have to start with a big WOOHOO! This afternoon, Jezebel picked up Rabbit’s original No Makeup Week post. This thing just got big. Way to go, Mommy Rachel! <3
Over the last two days, I have spent a great amount of time explaining No Makeup Week to people. Several of my fellow women have responded with similar sentiments: “I don’t wear much makeup anyway.” “Every week is no makeup week for me.” I came away from these reactions with a big WHY floating in a bubble over my head.
I can’t speak for Rabbit or any other woman participating in this experiment, but I can do some personal self-exploration as to why this is an important week for me.
I mentioned in my Day One post that I have rules about makeup. Anyone who has taken a basic Psych 100 course can see that this is obviously rooted in low self-esteem. That’s an easy assumption. Let’s explore what we don’t know.
I was not allowed to wear makeup in middle school, save for translucent and/or scented lip gloss; I was the Queen of Bonne Bell. I watched other girls my age blossom into their training bras, batting their mascara-coated lashes at boys with spiked hair. I was awkward, flat-chested, and bare-faced. I felt invisible. For three years, I floated underneath the yellowing fluorescent lights, gliding past the purple lockers, completely unnoticed. It wasn’t until the very end of 8th grade that I found a bag of my mother’s discarded makeup. Inside the bag I discovered what would become my new best friend: liquid eyeliner. Choosing to live dangerously, I applied the liner ever so carefully to my lids and just like that, I was someone new. I looked older and cuter. I saw the inherent beauty in my large eyes. Paired with a nude-pink gloss, I looked chic and edgy (well, as chic and edgy as a Buffy obsessed 14-year-old could look.) I don’t remember what my mother said about the new look, if anything, but I do know this: I did not get in trouble. Makeup was no longer taboo and I could finally mature with my peers.
For the last 10 years, I have been brainwashed by black eyeliner. The black liquid against my pale skin and piercing blue eyes completely transformed my face. This was a face I could learn to like. I slowly started to feel pretty. The makeup became a mask not just for my face, but for my personality. It was all a façade created to hide the shy, insecure, spazzy girl that lurked beneath the heavy eye makeup and bold lips. With makeup, I could be whoever I wanted to be, as long as that person wasn’t me. Aside from being a byproduct of low self-esteem, hiding behind eye makeup caused quite a problem with my self-identity…I didn’t have one.
This is the crux of why No Makeup Week is an important experiment for me. Only in the past few years have I slowly started to establish self-identity, but I’m still entangled in my special relationship with eye makeup. I know I’m an intelligent, snarky, passionate person with a great deal of worth and people seem to respond positively to my presence. Despite knowing this, there is still a part of me that believes that I’m none of these things with naked eyelids. I feel like I am defined by my makeup.
Sometimes, when I’m getting ready for a night out, my boyfriend, Justin, will ask why I need to wear the makeup. “Babe, you’re beautiful. Who are you trying to impress?” I used to give the response, “It’s for me, not for anyone else.” The line was delivered with confidence. I played the part of a confidently sexy woman who lavished in the feminine feelings of being dolled up. What I’ve realized over the past two days is that, yes, I am wearing the makeup just for me…it is there for me to feel normal. I do love putting on makeup, but I'm loving it for the wrong reasons. I love how it changes me and hides my flaws, rather than how it showcases my natural beauty. That’s just not the right attitude and, frankly, I need to stop lying to myself.
I have not touched my liquid liner since Saturday night. I have had a completely bare face since late Sunday afternoon. Nothing horrible has happened to me. I still crack the same jokes. People I know still greet me in passing. I am still ME. This is why I desperately needed No Makeup Week. I needed to be reminded that I have worth and that my beauty is more than eyeliner and lipstick. My beauty emanates from my natural looks and personality.
So listen, black liquid eyeliner, I love you, but I feel like this 10-year relationship has become a bit controlling and abusive. I KNOW, I know, you didn’t mean to make me feel this way, but this is what is happening. I just feel that we need to take break from each other and get to know ourselves. I’ll never forget the positive things you’ve done for me, but I need to forget the negative parts of our love. I hope that we can remain friends and be there for each other when it’s right.
Bright-eyed and eyeliner free!