When I get ready every morning, I find myself pondering the same question, " Should I put on makeup today?" (Granted, I usually only draw on my eyebrows and wear mascara and the occasional glittery highlighter.) I can spend up to 30 minutes in the bathroom redrawing my eyebrows over and over again, making sure they're the same shape and length and that one isn't darker than the other. Every day I decide if I want to spend all that time doing something I more often than not rather opt out of doing, and I almost always decide to.
I hate that I do this, but like so many young women, I am conditioned to think that I need to put makeup on as part of my daily routine. I learned it from the people around me, even though they weren't explicitly telling me that.
When I started high school, I made the choice to start wearing makeup every day. Right away, I noticed an increase in compliments from both people I knew and didn't. It gave me a huge increase in self-confidence, something that I desperately lacked. As a young teen girl, I took this a win for myself.
A few weeks into my mini self-confidence party, someone close to me condescendingly told me that I looked better with makeup than I did without. Then people started to make what seemed like insignificant comments when I didn't wear makeup on a particular day. "You look exhausted/tired/sleepy." "You look sick." "Are you okay?" "You don't look so good." The only difference in me these days was that I decided to just not wear makeup. I started to feel more insecure when I wore a bare face, but I still would willingly go out like that.
One time, I was hanging out with someone I am very close with. I did not have any makeup on, and this person told me that I looked like a "washed up dish rag" because I wasn't wearing makeup. This person may not have realized the seriousness of their words when they said that, but that simple phrase has stuck tightly with me for years.
I took those probably more seriously than I should have, but I grew to hate the way I looked without makeup. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror or go out if I didn't have it on. The worst part about it is that I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. So many women, young and old, believe that they are not beautiful or pretty unless they are wearing makeup, and that is simply not true.
So many other women are told that they look tired or sick or not okay or ugly if their faces aren't made up every day. Wearing makeup is a choice, not an obligation. A lot of women wear it to feel powerful and/or to enhance the features that they like best about themselves. It is ultimately another form of self-expression, and we should celebrate that, but we shouldn't tear someone down because they choose not to wear it.
All women are beautiful both with and without makeup. We should be celebrating that, and building each other up.