As I’ve mentioned, my February Level Up was to learn how to apply my own makeup. I attended a makeup lesson on Saturday, and have been putting off talking about it, to make sure that my initial reaction wasn’t an over-reaction. Since this year is about becoming stronger, and sometimes growth involves growing pains, I want to give myself the time I need to adequately interpret new experiences and feelings. I walked away from the makeup lesson feeling sad and resentful, and that emotional response has actually grown into a gnawing discomfort in the pit of my stomach. Guess it’s valid.
To begin with, the lesson wasn’t bad. The makeup artist was very nice, and she patiently walked me through each step with care and kindness – even though I was asking remedial questions that probably blew her mind. She introduced me to some product types that I’d never even considered using before (like a brow pencil, which is totally unnecessary), and the look she created was absolutely beautiful. I went out that night, and got a bunch of compliments on various aspects of my makeup, so I know that the job she did was masterful.
Though the look was lovely, it was a mask. I didn’t look at all like myself. I didn’t even look like an improved version of myself. I just looked like a different woman. On top of that, I could feel the makeup on my skin, a thick, humid mask, suffocating my epidermis. It was disgusting. The foundation was too thick, the lipstick kept smearing on everything, and I was so highlighted that I glowed like a Twilight vampire. (I should note here that my overall skin tone is very pale, and it’s one of my favorite features, so I’m not necessarily upset to look like a vampire, just HOLY SHIT this wasn’t a costume look – this was a recommendation for my “basic” look for work.)
I can rationalize that everything I’ve talked about thus far can be corrected. I can put on less foundation. I can skip a majority of the highlighting and contouring. I can tone down the lipstick, skip the bottom lid eyeliner, and make sure that everything is smudge proof and ready for all kinds of weather. These are all fixes. I can still learn from my experience, even if the lesson is more about what I dislike than what I like.
But the real experience came after I stepped out of Sephora.
I live about 20 minutes’ walk from the center of the French Quarter, and had arrived at the makeup lesson appointment wearing a yoga capris and a t-shirt, with my hair up in a headband. I love that look, especially now that I’m losing weight. It’s not fancy – but neither am I. I’m interested in long hikes, contraband whisky flasks and beef jerky tucked into the bottom of a 60L pack, sharing big thoughts around a small campfire. I know who I am. I am disappointed that I haven’t yet met my match out here, but hell, maybe that will never happen until I get out of this town, or get out from behind a blog, or who knows what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m figuring it out, right?
Anyway, you might be able to see where this is going. I walked out of the Sephora and got ogled within the first minute. And again, and again, and again…all the way home. People were openly smiling and flirty in a way they just typically aren’t, and at a volume that made me wholy uncomfortable. It wasn’t rude, but it wasn’t welcome, either. I felt like here I am, pretty awesome and still somehow invisible, but then I slap a fake face and all of a sudden NOW I’m worthy of being seen? What’s the point of it? Why live like that? Why do we do this to ourselves as women? And no wonder we find ourselves conditioned to feel worthless and ugly in our own skin, when the truth of the matter is that it’s fucking difficult and lonely to remain naked and vulnerable, when we know that wearing a mask will get us instant results. It’s so much easier to give up and just hide our selves, and accept the resulting second rate attention focused solely on this illusion of physical attractiveness.
Lucky for me, I’m shit at lying. I just can’t stomach wearing a fake face. I might have trouble loving myself, but that’s OK, I can keep working on it. And if finding myself means staying alone for the long haul, by the gods I can haul better than most anyone. I’ll make exactly the amount of effort that makes ME feel pretty and loved by MYSELF, and not one step more. I think that after Mardi Gras, I’m going to look for another makeup artist to see if I can get a different perspective from someone with a much lighter hand. I’m definitely buying that under eye brightening cream, though – MAGIC.