My first piece of makeup was a gift. On my 16th birthday, my Aunty hooked me up with a tube of mascara, bronzer and a massive eye-shadow palette. To be honest, I didn’t quite know how to use the stuff, but it made me really happy. I felt grown up.
I can’t quite pinpoint at which point I felt the need to have makeup on to feel beautiful, but I think it all started during my first year at University. Like most humans, I was a little anxious about meeting new people, and I just wanted to feel my best when I did.
The thing with makeup is that it hides flaws and blemishes and has the power to make us look, and importantly make us feel more attractive. Like everything with a positive effect, it has a negative side to it. It can be addicting. It reached the point where I was wearing a full face of makeup to class every day. I went from only using mascara to full face beat – foundation, highlight, contour, lipstick – everything. I couldn’t leave the house with at least some concealer and mascara, because all of a sudden, I felt like the hyper-pigmentation around my eyes and mouth was atrocious. I felt ugly bare faced. I couldn’t even take a selfie and share it online If I didn’t have makeup on.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with wearing makeup. I love it! I think it becomes a problem when we start thinking we are not good enough without it, and that we can not leave the house without it. It becomes an invisible chain. For example, I once met this guy on a night when I had a full face of makeup on. We saw each other for a while after that, and the whole time I never saw him bare faced, because I thought that I would look like a whole different person to him, and that he wouldn’t like me anymore. That’s messed up right?
At some point during my unhealthy relationship with makeup, I got annoyed at myself and irritated by the situation. I wanted to be free of this mental lock. I wasn’t brave enough to go cold turkey, so I started off by slowly removing steps of my makeup routine. First I stopped the foundation, then the concealer, then the blushers and the highlights and eventually the mascara and winged eyeliner. Feel the fear and do it anyway right?
As women, we’ve been fed so much crap about how we should look to the point that our own perceptions of ourselves get distorted. I think that even if the ‘perfect woman‘ existed, she would still find something about herself she didn’t like.
My advice to any woman or girl wanting to feel just as good with and without makeup is to firstly recognize the unhealthy relationship with makeup that you may have. Then have a real one-to-one with yourself about the reasons for this unhealthy relationship -how it started, why it continues, and how it makes you feel. Finally, it is to challenge yourself to have more days than not, make-up free, until you don’t feel the need to wear makeup.
It’s not about the act of putting on makeup, it is about the state of our mental well-being. I still enjoy putting on makeup. But I took the power it had over my confidence away.