“Well, you are good at hiding your beauty!” It was the end of the Thanksgiving holiday and my mother listened with mild exasperation as my sister and I discussed how glamorous my mother is. I asked my mother what she meant about me hiding my beauty, and she responded that I do not wear makeup.
By walking around with a clean face I am hiding my beauty.
While the concept seems positively absurd when expressed so explicitly, I was not particularly surprised to hear my mother’s view. I remember how my mother used to make comments such as “my daughters are Plane Janes, but they do look great when they wear makeup!”
It is not clear that I ever internalized my mother’s views, but it does surprise me when subtler women tell themselves that they want their daughters to grow up believing that they are naturally beautiful, even though they show their daughters what they really believe by wearing makeup daily. My mother just happens to be more blunt.
A few weeks later I styled my hair and applied makeup. Then I put on glasses. I was going to negotiate. I wanted to look competent and intelligent.
I got what I wanted. It probably had nothing to do with wearing makeup, but I do wear makeup whenever I think it may give me an advantage. It contributes to a society with a skewed view of beauty. It is a form of participation in a cultural lie about what it means to be a woman. It is an act of acquiescence to a system that suppresses life in the fullest sense. But these days I prefer to participate in (mild) evil rather than sacrifice myself to make some sort of statement about what I think life should be.
Makeup is all but required for my job. In general I wear the least that I can get away with. Today I used the eyebrow pencil, mascara, and foundation pictured above. It takes me about three minutes to apply (because I am painfully slow with mascara, and yes, I curl my nonexistent eyelashes as well) and costs me about $20 each year. During times when I am motivated to improve my appearance (job-hunting, for instance) I may wear a bit more makeup.
I would not wear makeup at all in an ideal world, but for today I am unwilling to sacrifice the immediate gains that come from makeup for the sake of something as luxurious as a fully integrated self.
- Tired and Cryptic
- Live Like You Love