Self-love, Makeup, and Beauty

I’m a no-makeup girl who wears makeup.

Wait, what?

First off, why is O! Wandering Folk, supposed proponent of the deep and philosophically weighty, talking about something so superficial as makeup?

There’s no digression here, my friend – I believe there’s a deep root and eternal proportions to everything.

Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? My mother did not teach me about makeup. It just wasn’t a thing in my family. She didn’t wear much, if any, and when I looked at her face – her freckled nose and light eyebrows – all I saw was beauty.

I remember at an open house night for my middle school, she noticed a sixth-grader with a face full of makeup (and glitter, as was the trend in those days) and shook her head, saying to me, “Girls this age are just so naturally beautiful, it seems a shame they feel like they have to wear makeup.”

I often have that same thought. I look at women with heavy makeup caked on and my heart sadly wonders – why is she hiding herself?

Through most of high school and college I wore little to no makeup. I often wore foundation, because I have acne, and I went through phases of playing around with a very, very small amount of eye makeup. That was it. My best friend was – is – a pro at cosmetics because her mom taught her how to use them well. She would occasionally beg me to let her give me a makeover and I’d consent reluctantly – although the root of our friendship is actually her chasing me shrieking around a sleepover trying to brush me with body glitter.

My friend would proudly pronounce my makeup done (sans glitter) and tell me to look in the mirror.

“It looks really nice,” I’d say, truthfully, because it did. Then I’d slowly add, “but it doesn’t look like me.”

Fast forward through this unnecessarily long story, to grad school. I got irritated with people assuming I was a “fresher” (UK slang for freshman, I quickly learned). One day I wore eye makeup and someone passing out brochures stopped me in the street – “How old are you, 22?”

“Oh! I’m 23!” I answered eagerly, not caring that he was trying to sell me something. I was just glad he didn’t think I was 17.

I started wearing makeup almost every day. That was the start of my journey to learning that I can present myself to be perceived a certain way, and thus the start of my struggle between changing my apperance to garner a more desireable perception, or being as comfortably “me” as I wanted to.

Perception is something, I learned, that you can manipulate, if you know what you’re doing. And there’s power in that – enticing power. But it’s also wearying. Wearying for the effort it takes. And wearying for the idea that your “unaltered” appearance might not reflect how you feel on the inside.

It goes beyond makeup, of course – wear a pencil skirt and heels and you’re a power woman. Jeans and Converses and you’re youthful and carefree. A cat eye is chic and a red lip is classically bold. Too much makeup and you look like you’re trying too hard – or you’re too easy. If you know what I mean.

But it’s not all about deception. And that’s why I still like to wear makeup, even though I feel confident enough now that I don’t feel like I need to wear it. The older you get the fewer shits you give (which gives me great joy anticipating how few shits I will give when I’m actually old, because, I’m still quite a youngin in the scheme of things). No, I’ve grown to like the creativity of it. How my makeup and wardrobe choices can give me a certain type of confidence, or express a facet of my personality. Today I feel punk. Yesterday I felt like Audrey Hepburn. Tomorrow I’ll feel like a wild woman and I’ll just wear moisturizer.

I still feel sad sometimes when I see girls or women wearing a lot of makeup. I understand it is an avenue for creativity, a means of self-expression. But I think that too often these are the buzzwords used justify hiding, or self-deprecation. Well-done makeup is beautiful. A completely natural face is also beautiful.

I love to see those “celebrities without makeup!” photos. Recently in the news for going sans makeup are Alicia Keys (all the time now!), and Adele in an apology video made for her fans. Makeup trends make everybody look the same, I think – and that’s a real shame, because I believe beauty is found in variety.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not against makeup, and I’m not against no makeup. I like both. I do both! What I am against is hating your uniqueness, fearing the opinions of others, feeling the need to hide, or thinking you have to alter yourself to be beautiful.

In the interest of full disclosure, and because you read all the way down through this Wandering, here’s my face. I struggle with self-love, like all women, but I’ve learned to give myself – and my face – the kindness I deserve.

An “everyday” office look.


And just me, clean and ruddy.



11 thoughts on “Self-love, Makeup, and Beauty

  1. I am now regretting any comment I have ever made about your makeup. I can distinctly remember a couple times when you showed up at the office with obvious time spent asserting accepted beauty, and thinking that I should reward effort with acknowledgement. Was my effort in error? Regardless, I must say this. You. Are. Beautiful. And I see it…

  2. I love a strong, powerful & intelligent mind. I love it because I am also a no make-up girl who wears make-up, sometimes. lol. I would love your feedback on my blog LADYHOOD I have multiple posts, most recent, “Self-Love Quotes” & “Beauty Is…” I aim to challenge women to become the best versions of themselves and push back against the pop culture standards of what a woman is. I would love some constructive criticism.
    Great post!

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