Thursday, July 14, 2016

War Paint

As I was driving to work this morning I was flipping through radio stations looking for some music like I always do. I am not a fan of talk radio as I find it distracting and also find morning shows are at best eye rollingly stupid to white knuckling my steering wheel rage inducing. It is better for my blood pressure and my driving abilities to listen to music instead. Every once in a blue moon I stop and listen to a morning show, normally because they are doing a trivia segment and I am a sucker for trivia. Every once in a while though I listen because the segment they are doing is actually interesting. This was one of those mornings.

"What happens when a woman forgoes makeup for 30 days, we will hear from our producer who has done just that in a moment."

I was torn. Part of me wanted to change the station because the premise of this bit is insulting. I mean going without makeup is not earth shattering, or at least it shouldn't be. Still there was another part of me that was curious to hear what this woman had to say about her experience of taking off her armor, because lets face it, makeup for a woman is armor.

Now let me be honest here; I do not wear makeup. I have makeup, I like makeup, I know how to apply makeup, but I just don't wear it. Mostly it is because I am supremely lazy. I would much rather sleep in an extra ten minutes than apply eyeliner and mascara. I also am lucky enough that I have a pretty good complexion naturally so I have never really felt the need to go to the effort of foundation on a daily basis.

If there is a special occasion or maybe a fancy date night I will make the effort to put on my face. Otherwise makeup is reserved for when I am performing. I guess it is part of having been a performer so long, but I associate putting on makeup with putting on a character. It is just one more layer to the costume and the performance.

When you think about it though, wearing makeup is always putting on a character.

Why do women wear makeup?

To feel pretty?
To look our best?
To hide blemishes and imperfections?
To enhance our appearance?

All of these things change us, sometimes subtly, sometimes not, but they change our appearance to the outside world and make us different people. A person who sees us with makeup has a different perception of who we are, and honestly so do we.

If I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and see dark circles under my eyes and sallow complexion showing how tired and bedraggled I feel I can fix that. Some concealer, foundation, and blush and suddenly I look well rested and am sporting a healthy glow. I may still feel like ass, but I look great and can pretend to the outside world I am. This is a character I am portraying; happy healthy well rested me as opposed to what I actually am right now.

If I am getting ready to go out and I feel frumpy and ugly I can fix that. I can pull out the contouring makeup, do some fancy tricks with color on my eyes that I learned on Pinterest, throw on some hooker red lipstick, and BAM! I am a total fox. A little makeup and I am ready to vamp it up all night long. It is empowering almost.

We call makeup war paint for a reason. It is something we can hide behind like a shield or a suit of armor. It protects us from the outside world which is, lets face it, cruel and judgmental.  It allows us to conform to societal standards of beauty and be safe from people who are not so accepting of deviation.

The song on my radio ended and the segment began. I was curious as to whether this woman would feel vulnerable and naked or empowered by her journey. She said that the first two weeks were really hard. She talked about being very judgmental of her appearance the first week especially, but for the most part people had been nice and supportive so it wasn't all that bad.

The guys on the show asked what she had learned about herself and her answer shocked them. She said she had learned that she was beautiful without the makeup, but more importantly she learned that she was full of spite. Yes she said she was full of spite. She went on to explain that she learned that if all of these men felt so free to tell her what was wrong with her physically due to lack of makeup, that she felt much more free to fire back at them. She was empowered to not take their judgy comments as acceptable. Without her armor she learned to fight.

They asked her if she would recommend this to other women and she said absolutely. She said people are going to judge you with or without the makeup, so why not do it? Learn something about who you are or who you can be.

And she is right.

Look people are going to judge you. We seem to be hard wired to look at a person and critique them. I am not saying this is right. I am actually pretty sure this is completely wrong, but it is a habit we all seem to have. It is most likely a learned action that is ingrained in us from an early age through the likes of media and social interaction with already judgy people. Who knows.

The point is people will judge you no matter what.  

You can put on makeup and they will think you are trying too hard and wonder what you are hiding. You can forgo makeup and they will think you are lazy and should take more pride in your appearance. There is no winning in the battle of public opinion.

So armed with this knowledge, why not explore yourself. Let down  your walls, take off the war paint, and see who you really are. Learn to see the beauty in  your own skin, dark circles and blemishes and all. The makeup does not make you beautiful, or who you are, you do.

There is nothing wrong with wearing makeup. If you like it that is great. Just remember there is nothing wrong with not wearing it either. It is about being comfortable in the skin you are in, no matter what you do or do not have on it.

Confidence is the most attractive feature any of us possess. It is a light that shines through you and there is no cream or solution they can sell to you in Sephora that will create that sort of radiant glow. Being able to walk out of your house in your rattiest clothes, your hair a mess, and your face as naked as the day you were born, and still knowing that you are amazing is by far the best you will ever look.

Confidence is the only armor  you will ever need.
Go out and be brave, be beautiful, and just be you.