Kiss and Makeup

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.

photo-21It’s not a problem that women wear makeup. It is a problem when the relationship between women and makeup is destructive.

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?

photo-22This 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. 

photo-27Instead, 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.

22 thoughts on “Kiss and Makeup

  1. Your story sounds so familiar. It’s indeed so strange to let something like make up change the way you feel about yourself, in a good and bad way. Thank you so much for this post, it’s important for people to read this and feel confident about themselves.



    On Friday, October 3, 2014, Victim to Charm wrote:

    > Sabina posted: “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 r”


  3. Hear! Hear! I have been generally going without make-up since my teen years. I am 50 now, and there have been periods of time in my life where I had an office job and started wearing light make-up to look professional. But generally, I don’t like wearing so much make-up that I would be anyway UNrecognizable without it. As soon, as I get habituated to seeing my face ALWAYS with make-up … it is disturbing and alienating.
    I remember having a housemate who used to spend a couple of hours every morning getting herself together – hair and make-up – as if she was going to a photo shoot every day. I am now in my 50’s and the amount of make-up I need for any special event fits into a small pouch, and takes a half an hour – tops.

    One thing, I want to suggest, is wear a sunscreen regularly. And your natural beauty will last longer : ) Personally, I think skin is better off without all those chemicals from make-up slathered on for years!

    I wrote a post a couple weeks back – similar to years – but looking at women’s preoccupation with body-image and what we sacrifice for doing so — time, money, peace of mind –

    Would love for you to check it out, if you have time beyond your busy college schedule.
    I am really enjoying your blog, and feel the world’s future is safe in the hands of young women like yourself. : )


    • I’m generally okay about sunscreen, although I tend to go the stay inside/in the shade route most of the time. In the summers I don’t lie out to bake though–skin cancer is way too prevalent in my family to make that attractive. I’ll go check out your post!


  4. Congratulations on finding the relationship with makeup that works for you! It’s great that you recognize the role it played in your self-esteem and that you took the action to set yourself free.


  5. Seriously needed this today. I always think other girls are so secure about being seen without makeup and when I see my friends I always thought, I can’t even tell a difference when they don’t have makeup on, and I wish I could be that confident. I am not to the point yet where I can go out without it… but I am getting very tired of that feeling..

    Also, your point about girls doing it for themselves and other girls it totally true hah.


    • At first I felt really self conscious ALL THE TIME but then I started living a normal life with no makeup and I never feel self conscious anymore. To me that’s worth it


  6. Thanks for the follow! Stopped by to see what your blog is about and enjoyed reading this thought-provoking piece. Our self-confidence as women is so tied to our appearance, and makeup is a big part of that. Enhancing what we were born with, putting our “best face forward.” As we grow, it becomes less important; we focus, instead, on the beauty of the spirit, rather than the external. Each of us has to decide where our comfort zone is, what best represents our personal truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely. I still focus somewhat on external beauty (I think it’s impossible not to) but I used makeup before to make up for insecurities, which only contributed to them.


  7. Pingback: 101 Blog Posts | Victim to Charm

  8. I think this is a tough lesson for any young adult female to learn. I’m not gonna lie, i wear makeup pretty much on a daily basis, because I’ve found that I prefer to look mature and more my age (23) and without makeup I’m often mistaken for being under 18. However, I learned that going without makeup is just fine too. I even learned that glasses + no makeup will not destroy me. I loved this post, and everyone has to find what works for them.


    • I’m always thought to be older than I am, which at this age isn’t a problem but may be someday. I definitely understand why you wouldn’t want to be mistaken as younger, though. It definitely is a good lesson to learn that the world won’t collapse during a makeup-free day.


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