Let me preface this by giving some context: I have never gone to class since I was in 7th grade without wearing makeup.
At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the title as trivial, but for me, going without makeup was a terrifying experiment. Of course I go days without wearing makeup, but usually on those days I hardly go into public. Those days I spend lounging around my house or my dorm without a real agenda. But the thought of seeing my peers and friends with a naked face has always scared me.
In 7th grade, wearing makeup started as a fun, teenage thing to do. I would wear bright, sparkly eye shadow and thick, clumpy mascara. Going into high school, I used makeup more as a mask than as a way to complement my features. I never had the best skin, so it became more and more of a security blanket. By freshman year, I couldn’t go a day without wearing makeup. Even if I wasn’t leaving my house, it was the first thing I did when I got up in the morning. At sleepovers, I dread the moment that we all would go to sleep and I would have to take it all off. Most of the time, I didn’t. The only way I felt remotely comfortable taking off my makeup was if I considered the people around me to be my closest friends. Yet, it took me nearly a year to show my ex-boyfriend my face without any makeup and even then, I could only bring myself to do it once.
Flash forward to now, I still deeply struggle with the idea of going into public with a bare face. I have accepted the fact that while some people will always have beautiful skin, mine will never be perfect. But, something was triggered the other morning as I was rushing at 8:40 AM to get ready for my 9 AM class. Why should I bother? I could estimate that it would take me about 20 minutes to do my whole routine, or 15 if I cut some corners and half-assed it. That would give me 5 minutes to run to class and get one of the less appealing seats towards the front. Because of practicality, I decided to go the way I had woken up. But after the day was done, it became much more than a smart, logical decision.
The fact of the matter is, I hate wearing makeup.
It takes up a lot of time, it feels heavy on my face, and it usually doesn’t stay on all day, forcing me to reapply. It probably doesn’t help my skin, and it’s overall uncomfortable to feel like you can’t touch your face. I do like how it looks, but for all other purposes, it’s useless to me. This is also what ran through my mind before bolting out the door.
By about 8:50 AM, on my way to class, I began to panic. It was too late now to put anything on and so I grabbed my stuff and quickly locked the door behind me. I tried to forget how I looked but as I walked to class, it was all I could think about. I had my first class, and about halfway through, I remembered again. It made me instantly shut down and not want to draw attention to myself. I didn’t raise my hand or contribute to the conversation.
My second class was more comfortable; all of the students are really nice and we all are very friendly with one another. I found myself acting normally, perhaps even friendlier to compensate for how nervous I was about my appearance. After the class had finished, I honestly felt great. I wasn’t ducking when I saw the face of someone I knew. It was so strange to me that my mood and confidence could shift so suddenly, but it really did.
In the beginning of the day it felt like because I had chosen comfort over custom, I was uncomfortable. But as the day went on, the feeling that I needed to stick to what I knew, wore off. Every benefit that I knew there was to not wearing a second face became clearer and clearer. In the end, I was the exact same person but I was also comfortable.It’s been nearly a week and a half and I find myself wearing less and less makeup since then. Not to say that makeup is evil and people shouldn’t wear a lot of it; it’s all relative. If you think the pros outweigh the cons, go for it. Power to you. But this little experiment instilled a life lesson in me: What’s all of it for if you can’t be happy?