Thursday, March 27, 2008

The makeup junkie speaks

I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but I’ve somehow developed an addiction to makeup. What started out as an innocent romp in the land of pearly eye shadows and sparkly lip glosses has turned into a near-obsessive fascination. Strangely, though, if you had told me a year ago that I’d soon become gaga over makeup, I’d have thought you were crazy. I’ve spent over 28 years practically makeup-free. It’s not that I ever had an issue with other people wearing makeup. It just didn’t feel right for me, and I couldn’t be bothered to spend the time putting it on. (It already takes me long enough to get ready in the morning—ask anyone who’s ever lived with me. I’m a total slowpoke when it comes to preparing for my daily grand entrance into the outside world. Who needs to add another 5 to 10 minutes to the process?) But now I find myself staring at women’s eyes on the subway. I actually pay attention to magazine cover girls. I carefully examine what they put where. I look at colours, amounts, application techniques. Is that a hint of silver I see just on the inside corners of her eyes? Hmm, I wonder if she uses an eyelash curler. It looks like she doesn’t wear mascara on her bottom lashes. Is that brown eyeliner? Ah, I see.

My makeup addiction started innocently as I got ready to go to my friend’s wedding this past fall. I decided I wanted to be pretty, so after coordinating my adorable black dress and killer heels, I took a trip to the drugstore to pick up 4 key makeup items: eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss (with sparkles, of course!). So I wore makeup to the wedding. And then at Christmas. And then to the occasional party. And then to work on days when I felt like dressing up. And then to work on days when I was dressing down but wanted to look a bit more edgy. (I learned that smudged eyeliner can work wonders.) And now I have to almost stop myself from wearing it every day. Like, literally, there are days when I want to wear makeup to work and I intentionally forbid myself from putting it on.

Why the ridiculous restraint, you ask? Here are my reasons.

First, I’m not always convinced that my makeup looks good after I’m done applying it. Okay, big time confession here: I, the makeup virgin, am not very good at makeupping myself. Yes, sometimes I even get mascara in my hair. (I hang my head in shame.) And then there was the time when I intended to create a smoky eye but the result was a cross between Tammy Faye Bakker and Liza Minelli. I have to keep reminding my fledgling self that less is more before I end up getting busted by the makeup police.

Second, I’m afraid of developing a crippling dependence on the stuff—you know, like becoming the kind of woman who can’t go outside without “putting my face on.” (I shudder at the thought of ever uttering those very words.) I don’t ever want to feel inadequate if my eyes and lips haven’t been painted on. Girls and women are continually told that we’re not good enough just the way we are. Remember Maybelline’s slogan? “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” Well, sorry, Maybelline, but I kind of want to spend my life believing that I’m born with it. I don’t want to feed on the cosmetics industry’s bullshit or ever feel like I look like a corpse when my face is naked.

But, more importantly, I keep asking myself: what does this new affinity for makeup say about my gender presentation? Who is this new femme that looks back at me in the mirror? Do I even like her? Someone once described my gender as “butchy femme.” But is the new made-up me waving goodbye to any hints of butch-ness that I might have previously harboured? Am I becoming a conventional girly-girl?

Now, before I get myself into some serious hot water, I should make it very clear that I think femmes are great and it’s not my intention to bash femininity (because we all already know that girls and feminine things are generally undervalued in our world). I guess the reason I feel so conflicted is because I’ve always prided myself in my ability to gender fuck, and my compulsion to look like a cover girl makes me feel like I’m selling out. It makes me feel like I’m becoming ordinary. And what’s the fun in that?

Anyway, if you see me wearing makeup, you should probably know that I both love it and hate it at the same time. And, if you think it looks good, you should go ahead and tell me because, if you’re lucky, I just might bat my long and perfectly voluminous lashes at you in return.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear mr. lady--

as someone who didn't start wearing make-up until my twenties and has been erroneously considered both "butch" and "femme" allow me to say:

1. it might all be drag to a mister lady like you.

2. it's best to have fun while you can. (more concisely, we're all going to die).

mr. pixie
(aka, carol)

March 28, 2008 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Mr. Lady said...

yes, mr. pixie, you're right. it is all drag. i'm so glad that people like you are around to remind me of that!

March 29, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Sabine said...

It's totes drag, dude, especially when you pair it with a discussion on the disturbing representations of mothers in episodes of "William's Wish Wellingtons."

March 29, 2008 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, seeing as we are of the female gender, if we want to feel pretty, I say go for it. Just be sure it doesn't affect the intelligent and sassy and strong personality we were given. Push _that_ even more!

K from work!

March 29, 2008 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger 'col said...

You know what I say? A tiny dot of white at the inside corner of your eyes is a neat effect. Also, your eyelash curler is your new best friend.

Makeup is fun, as long as you don't drink the kool-aid.

March 30, 2008 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Hello, Mr. Lady:

This blog is simply marvellous! It's already been beamed into my favourites!

I don't have much to say on the topic of eyeliner, other than every time I hear the word "guyliner," I somehow find it even funnier than the time before. But why?

April 1, 2008 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Mr. Lady said...

"Guyliner," eh? Yeah, that's actually the first time I've heard that. Evidently, I'm not as in-the-know as I thought I was.

April 1, 2008 at 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Mr. Lady,
I, too, have shifted into enjoying The Makeups. A younger weed once lectured boys about how oppressive lipstick was, etc, but now I keep an impossible shade of dark matte red in my heart and watch for its manifestation on this material plane, so's I can aquire it. I'm down with the drag, but my own conversion relates more to the everyday possibilities of Halloween.
You are pretty and tough and pretty tough,

April 3, 2008 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Ditto to the max.

As The Bride at that fall wedding, I can't tell you the pressure I had to wear makeup that day. ("Not even for the photos?!")

I didn't, by the way (okay, other than some concealer on a monster zit).

That was like my last big fat test on whether I'd wear makeup when the heat is really on. Because I didn't wear makeup at my wedding (*le gasp*), I finally, finally feel that I've sufficiently stuck it to Maybelline and the beauty militia -- and now I can wear all the makeup I want whenever I damn well please.

And please I do. The good stuff too (Nars, you overpriced bastards). You and me Mr. Lady, we gots to make a trip to the makeup counter.

Promise you'll teach this makeup n00b how to do smudgy eyeliner -- in return I'll show you smoky eyes, it's the one thing I know how to do :)

July 20, 2008 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger Dolly said...

Since turning 13 I have obsessively applied makeup to my face everyday before I would leave the house. Not because I thought I looked bad without it, but because I felt I looked better with it. Like you I enjoyed trying new things, playing with colours and techniques. Recently though I have stopped to consider exactly why I can't leave the house without putting on my face (yes I was one of those people). I feel like I gain immense confidence from putting makeup on and it generally makes me feel better about my appearance. With that being said I've realized how completely ridiculous it is to cover my natural face every single day. Since turning 18 in april I have begun wearing less makeup, trying lighter applications or skipping it altogether. And you know what, I still think I look good.

Thanks for posting this blog!

October 30, 2008 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Mr. Lady said...

Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Dolly! (I love comments!)

It's funny because I think putting on makeup every day can just become a part of your routine--something that you don't even think about anymore. Making a conscious decision not to put it on anymore probably takes a lot more courage than most people realize. I think wearing makeup can be fun, and anyone who wants to wear it should do so without guilt, but I guess, personally, I worry about it becoming a kind of crutch.

I actually got to a point where I started to feel moderately less attractive without my makeup on. When I got there, I realized it was time to ease up a little. So I stopped wearing it as frequently, and now I feel better about myself. I think I look great with makeup and without. And that's really where I want to be.

Thanks for sharing your story.

October 31, 2008 at 2:37 PM  

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