It wasn’t until grade eight that I began wearing make-up. Most of my friends, and even my older sister, had started experimenting with lip gloss, mascara and eye-shadows two years prior when they were about twelve. I was always more of a tomboy.
When I was thirteen-years-old I started listening to bands like The Ramones, Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper and with my new found taste in music came a new style and I delved into the mysterious world of make-up for the first time.
Unlike my friends who preferred pinks, purples and blues, I bought mostly black make-up. Looking back I realize that I did an awful job as I tried to copy Alice and Ozzy’s eye make-up and I’m glad there are barely any pictures of me from that time. Even though there aren’t many pictures, I did carry other remnants with me from that period of my life, like insecurities with how I looked.
From then on I could no longer leave my house without putting my “face” on. I traded my green lipstick in for pale gloss, but my eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara remained black. I perfected the “cat-eye” look and the smokey eyeshadow, and by grade ten I even drew on my eyebrows after deciding my natural ones were too bushy and caveman like.
At the time I convinced myself that my make-up was just a form of self-expression, a way to rebel against society’s norms and reject mainstream beauty but now I know differently.
It was a mask all along. I felt insecure and ugly and by putting on this intense make-up and dressing up in alternative fashion I was really putting on a costume that helped me feel better about myself. I belonged to a group of like-minded individuals and could easily hide behind this persona I had created for myself.
My values and opinions were genuine, don’t get me wrong, and I still adore goth and punk fashion; fishnets, animal prints, Doc Marten boots and heavy eye make-up, but as I got older and finally more comfortable with myself I eventually stopped trying so hard to look like other girls I saw online and at school.
I felt fine, just the way I was.
And with this new confidence I started wearing more plain t-shirts, jeans and other clothes for comfort. I started going out more and more with less make-up until eventually it became rare for me to ever wear make-up or even hair products.
It felt nice, fresh, clean. I could get ready to go out in a matter of minutes and so much time was saved without all of this extra primping and grooming I was so used to.
Until, eventually, it started to have a negative effect.
It got to the point that whenever I would put make-up on and style my hair I felt awkward. I started to think of myself as too ugly to bother, that people would look at me and think, “Why does she bother with make-up? She’s too fat and ugly to even try to look good.”
And so I stopped altogether. I began to withdraw from social events, I hated talking to people and I rarely wanted to go out any more. I became more and more comfortable just staying at home in my track pants and baggy t-shirts. I became socially awkward and unsure of how to act in public. I was sure everything I said or did made me look stupid and I started to have anxiety attacks at the idea of having to go out and do things.
Over the course of two years, starting when my social awkwardness was at it’s worst, I’ve really worked on myself and have been doing my best to convince myself that I am fine just the way I am. It’s getting better and although I still feel like I am socially awkward I maintain a busy social life. I go to school, hold a part-time job in customer service and full-fill my work placement’s requirements without the unnecessary panic attacks, as well as making time for my circle of friends and family.
And now I enjoy wearing make-up and straightening my hair again, without having to add shock-value to my wardrobe. I can go out without wearing make-up when I’m in a rush without it being a problem. And I can get dolled up for special events when it feels necessary without feeling like an ugly phoney. And most days I can put on some neutral eye-shadow, a flick of liquid liner and mascara and feel good about my appearance.
What about you, do you feel more comfortable wearing make-up, or not? Did you ever experience a time in your life when you couldn’t imagine leaving home without make-up on? Or even a time when you felt too ugly to even bother with make-up, like I did?