Who is That Girl I See: Makeup and Hating My Own Reflection

I have to admit, the first time I consciously made the choice to touch makeup was to spite my ex-boyfriend. Make him regret for breaking up with me. It may not be healthy or politically correct, but it’s the truth. Ever since then, I’ve started a (possibly permanent) relationship with makeup.

Though it’s true some people wear makeup to lie cover their true self, I think the main purpose of makeup is to give your face dimensions. It’s not always about false perception. If you got it, flaunt it. Makeup will enhance your greatest assets. Though in some cases makeup can be a misrepresentation of yourself, in many cases (like mine, for example), makeup is a weapon tool I use to represent my true self. It doesn’t compute to me that people are okay with putting on clothes, but they go mental when it comes to makeup. It’s essentially the same.

Like any acquired skills, it took me a long time to be able to wear decent makeup on my face. There’s no such thing as pulling off a winged eyeliner at the first attempt. I also went through many phases of lip color craze. I have them all colors: nude, pink, red, vamp, black, you name it. I have more than 30 lipsticks, I’m too scared to find out the exact count. Then there’s the obsession of flawless complexion. I tried everything: primer, foundation, bb cream, loose powder, so many technique you need to apply to look camera ready. Then the Kardashians flaunt their sculpted cheekbones, and I just had to painstakingly contoured my face.

One time my guy friends asked me why I put on so much makeup (this was when I was experimenting on vampy looks). I told them that I wore it to represent myself. Much like the clothes you wear, I put on makeup based on how I want to be perceived that day. Do I want to look cute? Steal attention? Intimidate people? I even have this policy that when I’m meeting clients, I put on dark red lipstick, because it makes me look older. I don’t want them to dismiss my opinion because they think I’m an inexperienced child. But when I dated this younger guy, I made a point of not wearing red lipstick (nudes and pinks only!), so it wouldn’t look like he was dating a sugar mama. I wear the same soft colors when I want to look less intimidating (than I usually do).

From top left, clockwise: full makeup, vampy phase, no 'makeup' makeup, literally no makeup. I look the same yet different.

From top left, clockwise: full makeup, vampy phase, no ‘makeup’ makeup, literally no makeup. I look the same yet different.

Recently, I’m too lazy to put as much makeup as I used to, so I keep to the basic. Fill my brows, thin eyeliner or dark eyeshadow (because I’m too lazy to draw my eyes), blush (to look fresher), and soft lipstick. But even such little makeup is enough to alter the dimensions of my face. I look more awake and generally healthier. It reaches a point I don’t like seeing my bare face in the mirror. Bare faced, I look pale, like I haven’t slept for days. I don’t like it. I feel like my presence is gone without it. I know it’s not healthy. Like any relationships, you gotta maintain a healthy one.

This article funnily enough confirms what I have always suspected (and practiced). Makeup does matter in your career (and dating rate). Men tend to think makeup-wearing women are more prestigious, and I never fail to wear makeup on dates. My success rate hasn’t been bad with it lol. Females tend to think makeup-wearing women are more dominant. It’s funny thinking that wearing makeup gives you more credibility, but I personally think that those who wear makeup are competent, because I know makeup takes skills. At the very least, it shows that one has a basic skill of coordination :)) You cannot be lazy when you wear makeup (zits!). But then the article talks about how women assessment of makeup is closely related to jealousy, and it only confirms my anxiety even more. Here’s one that talks about makeup and mental health.

In another article, a study concludes that women’s biggest competitors are other women. I know that today we’re moving towards a world where women should unite and help each other. We say that we doll up for ourselves, not men. But let’s be real. In our daily life, that’s not always what happen. Call me shallow, but I have to admit there’s a little bit part of me that take the effort to gain approval from both men and women. I rarely go out without my makeup, no matter how little. It’ll feel like going to battle without my armour on.

Now I’m still looking for reading material on makeup and mental health, because I’m getting attached. I’m not at that insane level yet, where I never wash my makeup ever. But I’d like to feel good about myself, with or without makeup. Most importantly, I want to feel like myself, even without products on my face. Here’s something that Zara wrote, “Magic’s in the Makeup”. The experience is of course different, but you can see the red thread.

For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not saying that I should entirely leave makeup. It’s the love of my life. However, it’d be great if makeup and I can grow together and fill each other. I want it to be a friend that makes myself better by supporting me, but I’m still ok even when it’s away, because I know it loves me. Does that even make sense? I do think makeup is a gateway to an extraordinary self-discovery.

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