For me, makeup was never something that I found to be overly important. When I was younger, probably in middle school, my days were full of electric blue eyeliner and a whole lot of teenage angst. As I grew, however, I didn't lean so much in makeup defining my looks and how I felt about myself as a person. I found that I had been allowing makeup to be a sense of worth for me.
I found myself thinking that I was less than when I didn't wear it, so just like that, I cut it off.
I stopped wearing it cold and really don't even remember many comments being made about it. During this point in time, I found myself receiving compliments that were exceedingly unique. I was complimented on things like the complexion of my skin of the arch of my eyebrows. The comments were a lot more specific to natural features I had.
Now, as an everyday makeup-wearer, I receive ones like "nice eyeliner! I like the wings you did today." The compliments I received while wearing makeup were about my makeup as opposed to the compliments I received on my actual features when I did not wear it.
When wearing makeup, I did feel different. I hear this said all the time by makeup wearers all around the world, however, after not wearing makeup for a year and a half, I had forgotten what the sensation of wearing it even was. I did not necessarily feel more confident when I wore makeup, I occasionally felt more awake or more put together, but overall the only thing I noticed feeling more of was more inconvenienced. "I want to be able to rub my eyes and not have dramatic black streaks across my face." I told my friend. I wanted to live a life that was a bit barer.
A life that is barer is quite different from one that is not. I did have boyfriends during this time and being a bisexual woman, I had girlfriends as well. As cheesy as this line has been given time and time again, who I was inside was truly what they felt attraction to. I never really got complimented on my looks by partners, but that never really bothered me.
Not wearing makeup often times was a lot bolder of a statement than actually wearing it. It would seem dramatic smokey eyes, thick black liner, and ruby red lips would be a much bigger statement than a bare face, however, I found my natural look to be something that people often took as a lot more of a shock. When someone saw my face and realized it was free of makeup things like, "Oh, it's because you're feminist" or "Wow, you're so brave."
This always baffled me. I didn't choose not to wear makeup because I am a feminist. It was because I could sleep in 20 extra minutes in the morning, because I could roll out of bed and go to class, and because I was simply comfortable in the person I was without it. The comments and compliments that I received during this period of time were a lot more backhanded. "You're so pretty, but I would love to give you a makeover," or "You've got great eyebrows, you should let me fill them in." I received comment after comment pretty much reassuring me that there was potential here if I just took the time to do it right.
It seemed to me like every person was telling me I wasn't hideous, but I could do a lot better and this suggestion of a makeover was there nice little nudge in telling me so. I never quite knew how to take this comment. I would always just sort of nod and say, "Oh...well thanks. We'll have to go and do that some time." I knew what the words behind their words were. I was capable of reading in between the lines. I wasn't ugly and there was certainly potential, but you can do better seemed to be the overarching theme of every comment.
The part I did find the funniest about all of this was that an a massive statement of feminism couldn't have be further from the reason from my bare face. Yes, I am a feminist, but I do not line my lower lashes in the name of feminism or refuse to do a smokey eye in order to smash the patriarchy. The reasons were all exceedingly practical. I liked to sleep and I liked to wipe my eyes without a gallon on liquid eyeliner coming off on my fingers. I want to be able to swim or cry without worry of my master piece being ruined.
I now wear makeup again. I started back a few months ago and though I swore I would never let it become such, it has transformed into a chore for me. I do it out of a sense of routine and obligation as opposed to any sort of artistic choice or confidence enhancer. My compliments have returned to ones that are based around my makeup as opposed to ones about specific, individual features of my face. I don't feel offended either way, but that doesn't mean I haven't realized the shift.
I believe that woman should do what makes them the most comfortable whether that is full face makeup, bare-faced, or somewhere in between. I do feel slightly different when I am wearing it to when I am not, however, the one thing I find to be the most important is that I am still me. I was Lizzie Bowen yesterday, Lizzie Bowen the day before that, and I will be her tomorrow. So shine on, whether that's with a little mascara or your beautiful natural lashes.