“When I was your age…I wish I’d known that I already had everything I needed within myself to be happy, instead of looking for happiness at beauty counters.”- Ilene Beckerman
I had ordered a drive through McDonalds earlier this week and had just pulled up to the second window to collect when a young girl opened the windows and I just stared. It was difficult to hide the surprise I felt when I looked at her as I couldn’t get past the fact her neck was a few shades lighter than her face, her eyes were dark black and her eyelashes looked so heavy I was amazed she could blink. Here was a young girl, clearly pretty, caked in make-up fit for an actress on the stage about to go under severe lights and having to be seen from a distance.
I really wanted to ask her why she felt she needed so much make up. Her skin was flat and toneless, yes it was flawless but hiding all the blemishes meant that she hid everything that made her, well, her. There were no distinguishing features, no freckles, changes in pigment just a matt flat face. Her black kolled eyes were nothing to her lashes though. Again, caked with mascara it would be enough for my eyes to start watering.
Once I’d noticed this girl, I looked about and noticed more young girls wearing just as much make up and felt a little sad. Were they putting on a mask ready to confront the world or wearing a mask to hide from it…? I couldn’t figure out, I don’t know them all but I know that being someone who rarely uses makeup (even then it’s just a bit of mascara and lipstick) it’s a big event when I put make up on. That got me thinking –why don’t I wear make-up? I was given my first proper make-up when I was 14 and I thought it was wonderful. The smell of eye shadow and the gorgeous colours available meant it was special in many ways for me. My mother clearly had put some effort into my present, getting the right shades for my skin and I was over the moon. I used it all the time and people commented on how grown up I looked. But then I slowly stopped. I felt self-conscious when people made comments, I wore less and less until I didn’t wear anymore and by then my mother had left my father, and me, and I had no-one to turn to for advice. The make-up sat in a box, a special box, that I had found as this was the last present from my mother and it somehow reminded me of her.
I was always a bit of a tomboy and I suppose I still am. Jeans and t-shirts are my uniform of choice but I don’t pass up the chance to put a frock on and get my legs out. I make an effort with my hair, find those heels at the back of the wardrobe and yes, I put a little make up on. My boys tell me I am beautiful and for that moment I feel amazing. They always want to cuddle and kiss me I think they are somehow drawn to a ‘womanly’ woman, even from an early age. Still, the way they make me feel is always the best thing to start a night out; being told you’re beautiful by 3 wonderful sons is an antidote to most things life can throw at you.
I choose not to wear make up most days. I think I’m actual too lazy to bother. Perhaps if I wore some it would take away the tiredness and give me a bit of a glow. Maybe I should try it more. I have lines appearing on my face, mainly around my eyes. But I’ve had 3 children, goodness knows how many unbroken nights and I am 35. I’ve lived life and my face shows this. The laughter lines that frame my mouth no longer go when I’m not smiling but then if I have this scar from smiling and laughing, I’ll take it because there’s been lots of laughter in my family. I don’t think of covering them up, making my face flat and featureless because this is what makes me me and I wouldn’t change it.
I have sons and not daughters and in this instance I’m glad. My sons will never have to cover their face, try to make themselves more beautiful, so their skin will always feel the sun. But if I did have a daughter I would try to show her that she needs to accept who she is and what she looks like and use make up for those special times, to enhance what she already has and not to cover it up. I would tell her she is beautiful and that as she is loved she can do anything. It’s true that beauty is only skin deep but if you can’t see the skin then you’re missing out on a lot of the person.