Magic's in the Makeup
I don’t think I ever knew makeup existed until I was about eleven years old. I just took it for granted that all the starlets on Loveboat and Fantasy Island had big eyes and glistening lips. My mother had never worn makeup as far as I knew. Then one day I walked into my mother’s room and saw her putting on pink lipstick and blush, and blue eyeshadow, and my world changed forever. Turns out that she had gotten a makeup consultation for an imminent family portrait, and was practicing. In the portrait, she looks glamorous and beautiful in her dark blue kimono; my father looks elegant in his navy suit, my youngest brother and sister look like precocious royalty, and me and my next youngest brother look rather like the gawky, awkward and nerdy pre-teens that we were. Throughout the next year, my mother permitted me to wear a dab of lipgloss or blush on recital nights or other special occasions, lending me a bit of her glamorous image.
And then I entered junior high school. With contact lenses, a new school far away from the “geek” label I’d lived with in elementary school, and free range for self-expression, I reinvented Dora. I discovered black eyeliner and frosty eyeshadow, painted my hair with peroxide patterns, and learned to talk like a valley girl. Let’s just say that the next six years were filled with daily experimentation guided by magazines and best friend consultations. Yes, those were awkward years as well.
By the time I’d gotten to college, there was no time for daily make-up-ing. What with classes, walking to classes, institute and leadership roles, work, and physical activity, it was an unnecessary daily expenditure of time. It became a special occasion event … dances, extracurricular events, and when I was dating.
And then I got my first job … night nurse in a small PICU. And the problem with putting makeup on became that I had to spend a couple extra minutes taking it off when I got home in the morning. A couple extra minutes that I could have been sleeping.
Anyway, after a few years of un-make-up-ing, I’m finally ready to do pretty again. Not that I decry those who choose not to make these efforts. As evidenced by my checkered past, I reserve the right to switch allegiances at will. I have a strong belief in makeup. In this present stage, I might even go as far as to say that makeup is true. When it comes down to it, there are surprisingly few people who are actually physically ugly. I tend to think that almost everyone can be made more presentable with a good haircut and a little makeup. Maybe that’s why I love makeovers and Susannah and Trinny so much.
So, a little makeup at work, and a little more for social occasions. And I actually feel more confident. More personable and magnetic. More inclined to speak out. More able to get hard-headed people to compromise. Magic’s in the makeup.
Or is it? I’m not sure if it’s the actual physicality of my presentation, or the invisible feather clutched in my hand that’s making the difference. Are people responding more favorably to me just because I put my hair up and put some eyeliner and powder on? Or is it that I feel more confident because of what I’ve done? If I were a more genuinely confident person, would I be able to get the same effect without putting on the frills? And what does this mean for young girls in a world where a certain type of physical beauty is so predominantly visual in all types of media? What have been your experiences with trying, or not, to find the magic in the makeup?