I know a lot of people who wouldn't dream of going out in public without makeup on. As for myself, I prefer to go without. Sometimes I might wear lipstick, but nothing more than that. I feel more comfortable in my natural state. But it's not always that simple. It's taken a long time for me to accept that my natural appearance, though perhaps not the best as far as societal standards go, does not need to be changed. Over the years, I've struggled with makeup and how it makes me feel. Did it make me feel more confident, or did it make me feel more self-conscious and aware of my "flaws?"

When I was in elementary school, I loved to play dress up and pretend I was someone famous. Of course, I didn't think there was anything weird about it then, but now I realize that it probably wasn't the healthiest game to play as far as self-esteem goes.

Eventually, I grew out of that phase and existed as a carefree child, fully myself. That didn't last very long, though.

During my first two years of high school, I painted approximately ten pounds of eyeliner onto my eyes before leaving the house. It drove everyone crazy, especially my parents. I knew this wasn't how I was "supposed" to apply makeup, but it was part of my teenage-angst phase. I was satisfied with the fact that I was making myself "different." But even though I wasn't applying makeup in the way most people would, I was still pretending to be someone I wasn't.

After my sophomore year of high school, I gave up on my alternative, contrary, "emo" image, because I realized I thought was making myself stand out, but in reality, I was just painting over my true self and subscribing to another stereotype.

Throughout the past couple years, I've had an on-and-off relationship with make up. At some point, I decided to try concealer, and that's where I ran into some trouble. First of all, it felt really gross on my face. But it also occurred to me that the point of concealer is to cover up "flaws," and that idea just made me feel worse, because my mind took that as confirmation that my flaws needed to be covered up if I was to be considered acceptable. I felt a lot of pressure to make myself into something I wasn't. But sometimes I tried. Without fail, I ended up washing it all off in a fit of frustration before the day was over.

When I wear make up, I don't feel like myself. I feel constricted and trapped. For me, it is physically and mentally stressful to put on make up and keep it on for the day. I would much rather struggle to accept my natural appearance than struggle to maintain an image that is not true to who I really am. I want my skin to be able to breathe, and I want to be able to breathe in my own skin.