I was never the makeup person. The first time I remember wearing it I was nine or ten years old, and it was for a ballet recital. I hated it. It was awful. I never wanted to do it again. When I was eleven, however, my mom let me buy mascara and a tinted chapstick or lip balm, and I started using those a lot. Suddenly, I didn’t seem to mind wearing makeup if it was super minimal, as long as it didn’t draw extra attention to myself.
In middle school, I had a really hard time making and keeping good friends, and it didn’t help that I went to such a small school. One of the extra consequences of going to a super small school is that, at least in my case, people tend to be put into boxes a lot. For me, I was the smart one. I took pride in that, but always wondered what it would be like to be one of the girls that everyone liked. To be completely honest, I really wanted a boyfriend at fourteen (which now, at nineteen, seems absolutely ridiculous. But it’s the honest, middle school truth). Towards the end of my time at that school, I started to wonder if I would have better luck if I changed a couple of things. I wasn’t willing to stop trying my best in school, so I decided that working on my appearance was the obvious thing to do.
I was fourteen when I asked my mom if I could start wearing makeup. She took me to Sephora and I had one of those things where someone does your makeup and then tries to get you to buy the products they used, which I’m pretty sure is what we ended up doing. And then I started wearing makeup almost every day. It was a weird switch in my brain, and I definitely didn’t know what I was doing. Soon after, I went on a retreat thing with the girls from my class, and there was a morning where we were all standing in front of a mirror doing makeup together. I did what I had been doing, and instead of everyone carrying on and doing what they were doing, all of the attention was suddenly on me. I was told that I was doing stuff wrong, and was kind of told how to fix it, but not really. It quickly became clear that wearing makeup was not going to be the thing that got me a boyfriend. I’m pretty sure I stopped wearing makeup after that for a few months, and then returned to it slightly around my eighth grade graduation.
Once I got to high school, I returned to days of not really wearing makeup. Sure, I went through stages, but it definitely was no longer an every day thing. Makeup become something I only used if I was trying to impress someone- a boy, a group of girls I wanted to be friends with, or even family members if I hadn’t seen them in a while. I wore it to events, church (on the rare occasion that I went), and sometimes I just wore it in my room to remember what I looked like. The first time I wore red lipstick was to a Christmas banquet my senior year, and while I thought it looked okay, I was quickly told that it needed to be fixed. The difference, though, is that the girl fixed it for me, and even though I didn’t love feeling like I couldn’t do a typically feminine thing, I liked that I was told what to do to fix it.
Since starting college, I have found that the only time I really wear makeup is if I’m involved in a show. Since stage makeup is so much heavier than regular makeup, I find it important for my skin to let it breathe when I’m not wearing a good pound of it every night (that’s what it feels like, at least). For the Festival of Shorts back in winter quarter, I learned how to do my stage makeup. I never thought it looked great, and I took every chance I had to let other people do it for me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to learn, it’s that I had tried to learn and I had never been successful. For A Wrinkle in Time, I had a lovely friend do my makeup every night for me, and I never had any complaints. I didn’t hate how I looked, and since I trusted her to do a good job, I wasn’t anxious about it, either.
I guess I now have a sort of complicated relationship with makeup. I don’t wear it unless I’m in a show or I’m just having a day where I feel like it, and on those days it’s always super minimal. If I’m not in a show, I don’t like other people doing my makeup because usually they make a big deal out of it and it always comes across like they’re trying to change me in some way (that’s how it comes across to me, at least). I have found, though, that as I’ve gotten older and moved further and further away from middle school, I’m not judgy of the people I see who do like wearing lots of makeup everyday. What I’ve learned is that, whether you wear makeup or not, it’s your own decision. If you want to wear it one day and not the next, that’s fine. If you want to wear it everyday or not at all, that’s fine too. On that same note, I think it would be a good idea if we stopped paying attention to people’s makeup decision so much. Whether you wear it or not, it’s not a huge deal unless it’s your job to care about it. Let people live, make choices, and change their minds as much as they want to.