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.