I have a confession to make; a dark little secret that I share with very few. Of the things I’ve written about on little blog, I’m probably the most nervous of sharing this. The fact is I am full on, flat up, addicted to make-up. I love it. I love the colours, the textures, I love the rituals, the camaraderie, the special alchemy of the stuff. I love it’s transforming nature, how it can enhance, I think it’s genius. I’ve got buckets of it and I play happily with it for hours. Only to wash it all off before leaving the house. Phew, that feels better, one less secret now.
I’ve spent time (and believe me, I’ve got time), pondering why this feels like such a great big secret and the answer is “feminism”. I used to believe it was anti-feminist to enjoy makeup because I was dumb.
I believe in equality for all, therefore I am a feminist. I heard it broken down that simply recently, takes all the pressure off. Liking something as frivolous as makeup in such an obsessive way used to make me feel stupid, ditzy, an anti-feminist. Are there more intellectual hobbies, more improving ways to spend time and money? Would you like me to answer a more obvious question? But it’s my joy, my hobby and just as my love of Radio 4, patchwork quilting or my love for my allotment doesn’t define me; this shouldn’t either.
I actually feel sorry for the men out there who feel they can’t wear makeup. Imagine facing an Ex, a job interview, a funeral without a few reassuring swipes of something fun or comforting. It shouldn’t be a prescriptive thing – I don’t like the idea that it’s armour exactly – it’s makeup, it should be a joy. I never go to a doctors appointment without some on, though. It’s my little “fuck you” (not to the Doctor).
People, mostly women I guess, abuse their makeup, leave it hidden in dirty cases, gathering grunge. Like it is something to be ashamed of because smart can’t be pretty and pretty can’t be smart. Well, studies, discussions and countless Women’s Hour panels haven’t sorted through this one, and I doubt I can here but it’s bullshit, frankly.
We are all smart enough to know that society and the media dictate a ‘Pretty’ and for whatever reason, that version, shines out to a lot of us; like a street lights to bugs. Whether it’s everyday or occasionally, we all feel less than perfect (for any number of reasons).
I try to live by the simple rule; that the days I ‘win’ on feeling good about myself – whether that is my version of pretty, smart, kind, helpful, strong or brave – need to out-weigh the number of days when I don’t. Those days when comparison robs me of my sense of humour, when acceptance is just that tiny bit out of my reach. If I don’t tip the balance the right way, well then, something needs to change.
I was very freshly diagnosed when the ‘no-makeup selfie’ furore (good grief – can the fact that this was a debate at all, when there are simply bigger issues for women-kind make me feel a little sad?) broke out. Are we not all wise enough to know; if you cannot walk down the street without an inch of makeup, if you struggle and hide behind a wall of the stuff; this includes pretending to just really like yourself with that amount on (the jig is up). If you only feel ‘worthy’ with makeup on, then we need to help the self-esteem issue you have?
Enjoying and Needing in every walk of life should be a battle which we can win, in order to lead balanced lives. Everyone is more ‘beautiful’ with less makeup on, please stop the caking madness, it’s bad for you.
For the record – ‘no makeup selfies’ cannot cure cancer. I did not feel like I had less cancer because of it, but nor did it remind me that I had cancer, everything reminded me of that…
Do I feel sad that the ‘Tag’ existed? No, cancer itself makes me sad. People feeling futile, while those they love get sick and creating a movement? This does not make me sad or even question society. Some people run, bake, shave their heads, it’s all the same, trying to feel less useless in a scary situation. Who are we to judge how others do that? But if you felt overly brave doing it, that makes me sad because wearing makeup is a pleasure and a privilege not a necessity, never a necessity.
I used to pack powder (Boots 17 Nicely Natural – only if your ‘natural’ shade was orange- whoop whoop) on. I’m talking hourly, I’m talking you cannot see skin under it, tide marks round my clothes, packed on. I felt naked without it, I honestly thought children would cry and flowers die if I unfurled my naked face to the world.
I was 14 years old and had the skin of a peach, seriously. How foolish are the young. Thankfully, I grew out of this reasonably quickly. I cannot remember what switched in my brain but all of a sudden I didn’t need that amount of stuff on my face. Perhaps a little self-confidence. Not much mind, as I still struggle with that.
I do remember the feeling of freeing myself from it though, of just being brave and not caring.
I get that feeling quite often now, of just simply not worrying what the world might think of me, it’s a positive of all this. It allows me to write about my love of make-up or my blue nipple and know that those who matter, me included, love my quirks and my ‘flaws’.
If you need to try and teach yourself the trick of this,the freeing joy of not caring, try to do it without the cancer and the chemo – you’ll be happier, trust me.