This past July was the first birthday I actually requested makeup products as a present. When I unwrapped a kit of over 100 different eyeshadow colors, from shimmery and metallic to simple purples, along with a small contouring palette and two tubes of glitter eyeliner, I was incredibly excited. And if you told fifteen-year-old me any of that, I would have cringed in disgust.
It took me a long time to get into the makeup game, and even then, I was reluctant. High school me thought that makeup was something people did because they were insecure about their appearance, or wanted to attract guys. I was offended when family members kept trying to persuade me to put on blush, lipstick, and eye makeup for my junior prom.
Actually, I’m still a little offended by that (more on that in a minute), but my overall views on makeup have changed drastically.
It began three summers ago, right before I started college. I bought a small eyeshadow palette and foundation on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Whole Foods. I was still uncomfortable with the idea, feeling like I was doing my younger self—the one who swore to never cave when it came to makeup—wrong, but thought it might come in handy one day. I felt almost ashamed about it, like I was betraying my face and saying, you’re not good enough for me anymore.
Cut to the summer after freshman year. Somewhere along the way (mid-April, but who’s counting) I turned into a major Supernatural fangirl. The term “fangirl” doesn’t even cut it, because the show means so much more to me than just something cool I’m obsessed with. It literally changed my life. And surprisingly, a small part of that was my view on makeup.
Misha Collins, an actor from the show, runs a huge week-long international scavenger hunt every summer called GISHWHES. It involves activities like making art, staging photos, performing acts of kindness, and other crazy things. I’ve always been an artist by nature, and convinced my sister to join with me so we could have fun together.
It was one of the best weeks of our lives. My favorite part was completing all the items involving cosplay—specifically, doing my sister’s makeup to make her look like a man, a 90-year-old woman, an optical illusion, and more. It was the first time I realized: makeup is really fun. Later, when I bought a ticket to the first-ever Supernatural Jacksonville convention, I was ecstatic to head back to the makeup section of Whole Foods and buy everything I needed to make myself look like one of the female demons from the show. I spent hours practicing to figure out what would best match the character’s looks. After that, I had a huge appreciation for how much work went into makeup design, and it started to occur to me: makeup didn’t just have to be for dress-up. I could use it anytime I wanted!
I started using it for special occasions like dinners and auditions. It’s an art form, and when someone told me how pretty I looked, it felt like they were complimenting my art—the canvas was my face. This was a big change from believing that when people complimented me on my appearance when I had makeup on, they were complimenting a fake version of myself, and that it was more embarrassing than flattering.
I realized makeup wasn’t about trying to impress people, or looking more conventionally beautiful—it was about making yourself happy. Sure, part of that can include using it to fix your insecurities, but there’s no obligation to do so.
I feel it necessary to say, going back to my earlier experience with my junior prom, that I still don’t like how society looks at makeup. I hate that there are people who think not wearing makeup looks sloppy or unprofessional, or that you look plain without it, or anyone who makes a well-meaning comment like “Yeah, she could use a little blush” or “Wow, you should wear makeup more often!”
That is your natural face, and there is nothing sloppy or plain about it. It’s totally fine to prefer the way you look with makeup on, but to shun people who don’t feel that way or to make them feel like they need makeup is not okay in the slightest. I think makeup is incredibly fun and cool, but personally, I do prefer the way I look without it. Nine out of ten days, I don’t wear any. But that’s a personal choice and if you prefer the way I look with makeup on, you really don’t need to let me know. Actually, unless I straight up ask, please don’t.
Younger me saw how magazines and movies pushed beauty standards and thought she was fighting against that by rejecting makeup. But truthfully, that was almost as bad. Women (and men!) have the right to decorate their faces as much or as little as they want, and it’s no one’s business but theirs.