Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No Makeup Week-- Day Two

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!


  1. Hello! Well I finally got off my blackberry and onto an actual laptop that would let me comment. Really enjoyed reading this. I find your exploration of the relationship between makeup and self identity really interesting. I'm also personally trying to engage with what it means for a woman to wear makeup 'for herself' so it's fascinating to read you talking about that. I hope there'll be more on that topic!

    I just posted about my first day - I'm a bit behind everyone cos I only found Rabbit Write through Jezebel - I'd been missing out! My first post is here if you wanna check it out http://bit.ly/cyDtWJ

    Anyway it seems like your blog is quite new! So I thought I'd say that I think you're a great writer. Looking forward to reading more.

  2. So glad you're enjoying the blog! Keep exploring your relationship with makeup, I know I will.