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.
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. 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.