This week I spent $23 on an eyeshadow pallet. It was the first "expensive make-up" I had ever bought. And I thought I would regret it. In our current Instagram driven culture, as a woman, it's hard not to also get roped in to the make-up culture that has recently arisen because of Instagram.
So I thought that's why I did it, and so I would regret it. But I don't. And it got me thinking about why I wear make-up.
So why do I wear make-up? Just as it is for most women, for me that's a hard question to answer.
I spent most of my life before college wearing little to no make-up. I might put on some mascara before school. If I was feeling particularly moody I might even line my eyes. But that was the extent of it.
Back in high school, I wore make-up "to enhance, not correct" because I thought that made it more feminist somehow. (For the record, wearing or not wearing make-up has nothing to do with whether or not you're a feminist. Neither does shaving your legs).
Then I got to college, and my diet had to change since I was living at school and didn't have a car or my own kitchen. I ate as healthy as I could, but still not as healthy as I was used to. And my skin showed it. That year I also happened to have a gorgeous French roommate whose make-up always looked amazing.
And so I started getting more into my own make-up look.
It took me a couple years, but I finally figured out the right make-up routine for my frustratingly combination skin inclined towards intense blushing. Oh, and I bought a lot more eye-liner because, even at 20, I'm still an emo kid at heart.
And my self-esteem has increased because of it. I smile at random people around campus now. I strike up conversations with people I don't know. Some of this is just because I've gotten more comfortable with myself as I've gotten older, but I know some of it is also because I'm not worried they're judging me because of what my face looks like. They aren't staring at that zit on my chin, and they aren't going in to shock over how red my face actually is.
And then there are the boys. I would love to say I do my make-up for me and me alone, but that wouldn't be true. I would love to say I don't seek validation from boys, but that also wouldn't be true. Just because I know I shouldn't look for my validation from guys telling me I'm cute or pretty doesn't mean I don't.
But I also don't wear make-up solely for other people. As it is for many women, getting up and even just spending 5 or 10 minutes on my face to do the bare minimum is a form of self-care. And feeling good every time you look in the mirror is a form of self-care too.
So I guess I wear make-up because I enjoy it. I like spending time on it, I like trying out new products, and I like how it looks on me. And yes, part of that enjoyment comes from the attention and compliments I get from other people, particularly boys, but if it brings me joy, I don't think that's a bad thing.
I don't hate my face without make-up. Sometimes taking my make-up off is the best part of the day. Make-up is just another tool for me to use to maximize my self-esteem in a world that tells me that, since I'm a woman, it really ought to be low. And I'm okay with it being that tool.