When I Set Out to Learn to Use Makeup and Also Learned to Love Myself

I had never been interested in wearing makeup. I tend to sleep in late, press snooze a few too many times, and throughout my prime start using makeup years I never even woke up in time to eat breakfast, let alone paint my face. And I wasn’t insecure about it. Makeup is time-consuming and expensive, I never put that much effort into any part of my appearance, and I was decent enough looking without it that I never felt it was necessary.

But then, college graduation started approaching. And I felt like I needed to start being an adult. And I thought that surely being able to correctly apply makeup is a necessary part of adulting – it’s something women are just expected to do at a certain age. So, much to her absolute joy, I finally allowed my sister to teach me her ways. We spent over an hour on the phone while I tried to pick the right colors and items from a CVS, and then I watched YouTube video after YouTube video to learn how to put it on.

As a result, just in time for my (successful) job interview, I learned. My interview was on a Wednesday. The Sunday before, I tried everything I had picked out with the help of my sister to make sure I knew what I was doing. I made adjustments based on what I liked and didn’t like, as well as YouTube-suggested “interview” makeup, and tried the exact look I was planning for my interview that Tuesday. With just a few other, small changes, I created that look again on Wednesday for my interview.

One thing that surprised me on all three of these days was how much more self-conscious I was of my face with the makeup than without it. I felt like I was wearing too much, like people were judging me for having stuff on my face, like I was faking something. I knew, of course, that most women my age wear makeup everyday and it’s likely that nobody other than me paid any attention to it, but I was still grateful for the day after my interview when I knew I would be able to go bare-faced all day after so many days made up.

And that’s when something happened that I especially didn’t expect: I felt pretty without makeup. Really pretty. And not just the day after my interview, but the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that – on and on for weeks, there was not a single day where I looked in the mirror and thought anything other than “I look awesome right now.” I even started sending a greater volume of snapchats because I actually liked looking at myself.

I said before that I thought I was decent looking enough without makeup, but not like that. It was usually like “eh, yeah, you’re about average.” There were certainly some days when I felt pretty, but they were usually weeks or months apart – never every day for weeks at a time. This was different. This was great. I thought I looked better, I felt better, I spent way more time worrying about whatever I was doing instead of however I looked… it was amazing.

I don’t really have a good understanding of why this happened, but my best guess is that trying to apply a full face of makeup helped me learn to appreciate all the things that already look nice. For example, I’d always hated my eyebrows. I felt like they were too thick and bushy by my nose and then got weird and sparse by my ears. So the first time I tried all my new makeup, I penciled them in at the thinner parts. And then I found that that was even worse. The second and third days I makeup-ed? No eyebrow pencil. And I haven’t had a negative thought about them since.

Whatever the reason, learning to use makeup gave me one of the biggest ego boosts that I’ve ever had. And the best part was that it came entirely from me: it didn’t matter how many people told me my makeup made me look “so pretty” or “more mature” – I liked myself better without it and that made me feel awesome.

Will I still wear makeup on occasion? Yes, of course, for special events or (as I’ve been doing) when I wake up in the morning with particularly bad dark circles and decide to throw on a bit of concealer. But especially since I was afraid that learning to use makeup correctly would make me feel like I needed it, finding that I’m pretty happy with my face just the way it is was incredibly liberating.

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