1 Aug

The first piece of makeup I ever purchased was a cherry flavored Bonne Bell Lip Smacker that all the cool girls at school were using. I remember seeing them applying it during lunch, and envying their newly shiny lips. I couldn’t have great hair, great skin, a great physique or even great clothes, but I could have a cheap tube of carcinogenic lip goop.

Having that little red tube gave me a brief moment of normalcy. When another girl would see me carrying it, there was an unspoken acknowledgment that I momentarily belonged. I belonged. All thanks to flavored Vaseline that cost less than a dollar.

Preteen lip crack

Preteen lip crack

Fast forward almost 20 years, and my love of makeup has only grown. I love the colors, the packaging, the texture, and how it makes me look. Some people collect stamps; I collect makeup.

Anyone who knows me knows that I won’t leave the house without makeup on. Sometimes it’s just a little concealer, powder and mascara, but I need to have some on if I’m venturing out. People have teased me about it over the years, but I’ve never thought there was anything wrong with wanting to be presentable.

As most of you know, I’m in therapy now. The thing about therapy is that you’re forced to confront things you hoped you’d never have to, and things you didn’t know you’d need to. My love affair with makeup is the latter of the two.

You see, I’ve discovered that I don’t leave the house without it because I don’t think I should. I don’t feel happy or confident when I don’t have it on because I’m incredibly plain. Ugly. Weathered. Jen-like. My makeup is a mask I use to look less like myself, and more like others that I am (unknowingly) trying to emulate.


Much like Junior High Jen, I think I must be a certain way to be accepted. Makeup should be fun, like painting a masterpiece on an already beautiful canvas. It shouldn’t be used to cover up your individuality simply because it doesn’t fit in with a standard others may (or may not) have for you.

I am a person with incredible resolve, and when I decide that I’ve had enough of my own bad behavior, I really commit to fixing it. This is why, last week, I left my house without first putting on any war paint. I went to the bank.Β  I grabbed a coffee. I conversed with a neighbor at the mail station. All with a bare face.

I won’t lie, I was terrified before leaving the house. I was completely emotional before I got out of the car and went into the bank; in fact, I almost didn’t do it. Sometimes you’ve got to push yourself outside of your comfort zone if you want to get better. I did just that.

And you know what? It was fine. Actually, It was more than fine. People still smiled at me, they still made conversation, and nobody tried to stone me to death. Jen, regular ‘ol Jen, was good enough as-is.

I’ve gone out twice since then without makeup, and it was easier each time. I stare at my reflection each morning, choosing to focus on what is right about me instead of what isn’t. I’m learning to love the fact that there is only one me in this world, and that shouldn’t be something I’m ashamed of. On the contrary, it’s something I should embrace.

I love the artistry of makeup, using colors and shadows to create various effects on my face. Applying it relaxes me, and it’s the one time in the day that is all my own. I’ll never stop buying and wearing makeup. I’ll just be doing it for the right reasons now.

My name is Jen, and these are my two faces. I’m learning to love both of them equally.

Me and Me

Before and After

78 Responses to “Two-Faced”

  1. jargonette 09/20/2013 at 9:02 pm #

    You lucky, lucky, woman. I look blind without mascara. The first time I slept over at my partner’s house, he sat up in bed with a concerned look on his face and asked me if I was okay.

    • Jen and Tonic 09/21/2013 at 3:18 pm #

      I’ll agree, my dark brows and dark lashes do add a “little something to my face”. I will say that the dark circles under my eyes (at times) do get people questioning if I’m ill or not.

  2. persephone2013 08/18/2013 at 8:28 am #

    First off, you are beautiful. Period! Many years ago, I worked in an office, so I wore a suit and heels, jewelry and make up every day. A few years later, I switched careers completely to working on the ocean in boats. When I did wear make up, I felt naked without it. But, after I let it go, now I don’t even think about it. One night, in the middle of the night, when I was working on a ship, one of the guys on board made a comment that I was pretty but I should use some under eye cover up to cover the black circles under my eyes. Fortunately, my only thoughts were something along the lines of who the hell was this guy to tell me to wear make up on the schedule that I worked (constantly sleep deprived and no days off for a minimum of six months at a time). And I’m not his girlfriend and certainly am not looking, so he can go “f” himself!! These days, I wear make up once in a while when I go out.

  3. adixon210 08/13/2013 at 12:53 pm #

    I love this post so much I wanna marry it! But seriously, good for you for facing your fears — you look beautiful. I stopped putting on makeup before leaving the house a while back (mostly out of laziness) and I haven’t looked back. Although it’s a bit difficult meeting up with my always made up to perfection best friend during these bare-faced times, I know it’s worth it.

  4. BrainRants 08/10/2013 at 8:07 am #

    With a smile like that, Jen, how would anyone notice whether you had makeup on? Also, if it makes you feel better, I do not wear makeup. Except for green face paint. Sometimes.

  5. Main Street Musings Blog 08/09/2013 at 12:39 pm #

    By the time you reach my age, you leave the house without makeup because you’ve forgotten to put it on. πŸ™‚

  6. vyvacious 08/09/2013 at 12:52 am #

    Gorgeous in both!! I actually had a roommate who used to give me so much shit for not wearing makeup when I go out to do normal things. I know it’s weird, but I’ve actually had to talk myself into using makeup over the years. Maybe it’s more so due to the fact that I work in a man’s world and I hated whenever people automatically assumed that a pretty face meant that I sucked dick to get where I am. Fuck that shit. It’s taken me time to realize that I can look damn good AND do a kick ass job and not have to deal with other people’s bullshit. We hot ass/hard working ladies gotta stick together πŸ˜‰

  7. travellingmo 08/07/2013 at 10:09 pm #

    I always find it interesting to hear people talk about makeup and self-image. I am right smack dab in the middle of it all with a job at Sephora, practically the nucleus of the modern beauty industry. I’m so proud of you for finding the right reasons to wear makeup! Alas, I make money because people think they need to “fix” themselves, but the double side of the coin is that my industry also exists because people love the fun and self-expression that comes with any artform.

    With your two photos, all I thought was “That girl is adorable! Look at those green eyes” πŸ˜‰

    Here’s to self-love and self-expression!

  8. Stacie Chadwick 08/05/2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Seriously? You look the same with and without…beautiful. =)

  9. DeeDee 08/04/2013 at 6:45 am #

    Jen, you’re beautiful! Not that I’m surprised – what a smile, though – it made me smile right back at my computer.

    And to be honest, I can’t see the difference in the images except that one appears to have better lighting overall.

    You won’t be surprised to learn that I’m a non-makeup person. Give me a little Burt’s Bees lip moisturizer and I’m good to go – even when I’m broken out, oily, or have rings under my eyes. I do fondly recall my first Lip Smackers too – but that was more about, “hey this Chapstick doesn’t taste like ass!” I did paint my face when I worked at a professional theatre and that really was about fitting in to the crowd, but I haven’t ever done the makeup thing consistently either before or after that time.

    The main reason? MAKEUP FEELS GROSS. I feel dirty, oily, smeary, and messy with that crap on me. If I accidentally touch my face, I end up with crap on my hands that then transfers elsewhere and craps up my clothes or whatever. There is nothing un-sexier than making out and getting crap all over your partner’s face, or having to take a break to wash crap off so you can be properly intimate, or leaving face-prints on the pillow if you are too wasted to do more than just fall into bed after a fun night out.

    Makeup is crap. It makes people feel like crap. Enough with that crap!

    Also, I freaking love your cartoon! I’m proud of you for going out without that defensive layer between you and the world.

    • DeeDee 08/04/2013 at 6:46 am #

      Also, my eyelashes are so long that if I put on mascara, they smear up my glasses.

      Go on, hate on that. πŸ˜‰

  10. writerwendyreid 08/03/2013 at 7:34 pm #

    I think your before and after are equally beautiful. xo

  11. El Guapo 08/03/2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Check you out, all great smile and confident in both pics!

  12. The Hook 08/03/2013 at 10:43 am #

    They’re both beautiful, Jen.

  13. MissFourEyes 08/03/2013 at 10:34 am #

    You have such a pretty smile, Jen.
    My first piece of makeup was a Watermelon Lip Smacker. Now that I think about it, it was silvery-pink and…weird. πŸ™‚

  14. thoughtsappear 08/02/2013 at 12:05 pm #

    Ah, Bonne Bell. My first was blueberry.

  15. midwestkite 08/02/2013 at 3:37 am #

    I am pathetically makeup dependent. One of my most extreme examples is the time the tornado sirens were going off, and I was in the bathroom slappin’ that stuff on Speedy Gonzales-style. A few months ago, I had an emergency operation, and while I was in recovery, I actually got up and RE-APPLIED MY ENTIRE FACE. Having said all THAT, I REALLY admire you for stepping outside of your comfort zone. This makeup addiction is silly and shallow, but it is REAL, and you are brave. I gotta say, if my real face looked as nice as your real face, I’d probably kick the makeup habit altogether. That stuff isn’t cheap, and you are naturally beautiful!

  16. celeryhills 08/01/2013 at 9:02 pm #

    You are gorgeous either way, and most excellent orthodontia!

    At least makeup still works for you. I am of the age where a face full of makeup makes me look WORSE than before I started: concealer under the eyes works for dark circles but dang it sits in those fine lines and wrinkles so much so I look like I have patchwork leather bags from the 70’s beneath my eyes. I just gave up, the screams of fear were getting to me.

  17. iRuniBreathe 08/01/2013 at 6:12 pm #

    Both of those photos looks gorgeous. The biggest difference is that one of them has a striped shirt on and in the next photo it’s a green shirt.
    I get what you mean about feeling ‘presentable’ or ‘confident’ or whatever when you have makeup on. Even a little bit. I just got too lazy to put it on, too tired to figure out what worked right, and I got used to just seeing me as me. I didn’t have to be anything for anyone else — and actually no one really noticed either way.
    So you do what makes you feel your best, but know that underneath it is the part that people love.

  18. Elyse 08/01/2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Gorgeous with or without. Everybody is probably looking at your friendly smile, not your makeup.

  19. PinotNinja 08/01/2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Girl, what are you doing covering up that gorgeous glowing skin??

    That said, I totally hear you on loving make-up and the fun of putting on a super-glam face. There’s nothing wrong with playing up your eyes and throwing on some diva-esque lipstick when the mood strikes you. What you don’t need is piles of concealer and foundation, because you’ve got nothing to hide.

  20. Lyssapants 08/01/2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Bravo for being so candid.

  21. DetroitFamilyFun 08/01/2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Great story and fantastic share! You look beautiful before AND after πŸ˜‰

  22. Samantha 08/01/2013 at 1:06 pm #

    You are gorgeous! Good on you for now wearing it for the right reasons. πŸ™‚

    I used to wear mascara every day, but that was it. And it was mostly because I look younger than I am, and wearing it to interviews tends to be a good idea so I don’t look like I’m 17 instead of 24. For me, it’s also laziness. I don’t even know how to put on anything except mascara and eyeliner.

  23. Fat Bottom Girl 08/01/2013 at 12:41 pm #

    With that award-winning smile, I doubt anyone will notice whether you’re wearing makeup!! Rock it girl, you’re beautiful!!

  24. mrmarymuthafuckingpoppins 08/01/2013 at 12:38 pm #


    If I was single I’d buy both of you a drink, chat you up at the same time, tell you what the 80’s were like and how good a time we would have listening to Duran Duran’s Come Undone because, that just how I roll.

    I don’t see much difference between either picture, either. The thing that stands out the most is how warm your smile is. I will share with ya the wisdom of what some older men told me: There are two things that makes a woman look most attractive, and one of them is a warm inviting smile. It implies a lack of bitterness and approachability. You also look like you smell nice, like you would have that nice girly smell that’s a combo of shampoo laced with fruit essences, spice rice and everything nice…. Kind of makes me wanna be less of a asshole and dress nicely etc

    It’s great to see how committed to changed you are. this is great. I feel this will be really great for you. Virtual fist bump and hugs because I spilled mustard on my angry birds t shirt. You fucking rock

  25. michellestodden 08/01/2013 at 11:42 am #

    Either way, you are beautiful.

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