Pop culture loves to glorify men who love their women au naturale (Drake and Bruno Mars, anyone?). In response, researchers in the UK have studied this preference. The study is problematic: small sample, biased methodology, condescending analysis of the results. The comments section emphasizes that women don’t necessarily wear makeup to please men. Instead, many commenters argue, women usually wear cosmetics either to 1) satisfy themselves (because it’s fun, it’s an outlet for creativity, or they simply like how they look with makeup on) or 2) because other women expect it.
Flashback to senior year of high school.
I couldn’t make myself leave the house, even to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment, without my classic brown/black eyeshadow design and concealer to cover any flaws in my complexion.
I dreaded the moment I would have to wash my face at a sleepover.
If a friend stopped by my house unexpectedly before I had made myself up, I wouldn’t be able to relax during our conversation–instead I would squirm and spend the entire time worrying about what they thought of my “natural face.”
When I woke up in the morning, I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror until I did my makeup. And I didn’t like that.
Sometime in August last year I stumbled upon a question. I don’t remember where I found it, but that’s not what’s important.
“You have to decide: When do you let him see you without makeup?”
This struck a chord with me. I was about to go on an overnight trip to see a concert in Seattle with my then-boyfriend, who I had been dating for three months. He would be seeing me without makeup for the first time.
I immediately loathed what the question implied. Why did my boyfriend seeing me without makeup have to be a big event? Why did the idea of anyone seeing me without makeup cause me stress and anxiety? How had I let cosmetics gain so much power over me?
It was the final straw. I had let my relationship with makeup become destructive. I’d let makeup trap me, I’d let it dictate my actions and emotions, and I’d had enough.
I came to college, and I stopped wearing makeup.
The world didn’t explode, time didn’t stop, I wasn’t shunned Hester Prynne-style.
Instead, I became more carefree and confident. I had always relied on makeup, but now I make eye contact with my reflection in the mirror every morning and I’m okay with my appearance without changing it. Wearing makeup only made me hyperaware of my so-called flaws, but now I unashamedly leave my blemishes uncovered.
My makeup routine to go to college parties is the same one I used to do for class in high school. I now put on that face and remember how I used to need eyeshadow to feel normal and okay with myself. It blows my mind how strongly I felt I needed such drastic eye makeup, and I now pride myself on escaping from the neverending cycle of dependency that cosmetics created.