“Yikes,” I thought, looking at myself in the mirror. “I looked tired.”
I’m certain I’ve felt more exhausted at other times of my life, but these days, it’s decidedly more noticeable. My tiredness is visible on my face, in the skin under my eyes, the dullness of my complexion. I wonder if I need to start wearing makeup to cover up the effects of a busy life. At 32, I also wonder if it’s high time I start wearing makeup to look more professional at the office.
I’ve always been the type of girl who was fresh-faced and wore my hair in a ponytail. Easy breezy beautiful in my own way, without Cover Girl, thank you very much. But I’m also a creative person who loves having my makeup done for weddings or special events. I enjoy watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. I am wowed by the creativity and execution that goes into a glamorous full face of makeup. The color palette, the technique and precise lines; much like graphic design, with makeup I see the process come together for a beautiful final product. And being a hipster, whether it’s music or makeup, I always like being in the know about the next big thing before everyone else. I love Sephora and shop there enough to be in the middle-tier rewards program.
But makeup isn’t an everyday thing for me. I like doing it, but only if I have an extra 45 minutes and can relax with a glass of wine and blast ’80s tunes while I get ready.
Most days, I’d rather have 20 more minutes in bed than spend that time dusting my cheeks with pressed powder or coating my lashes with mascara. I can’t tell you the number of times my stressed-out hand drew a line of eyeliner closer to my eyebrow than my lash line when I was rushing it. And being a Virgo perfectionist, if I can’t make it look like a professional did it, than I would rather not do my makeup at all.
And I’m not alone. Well-known singer/songwriter Alicia Keys made headlines this summer with her #NoMakeup movement. Maybe you are a fan of “The Voice” or saw Keys on the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards, totally barefaced and proud. It should have been a non-event (it’s just a talented artist at an awards show who happens to not be wearing makeup—what’s the big deal?), but the celebrity news writers went nuts over it.
Why should women be judged so harshly on their physical appearance and be made to only feel like a woman when in full makeup? (But let’s get real. Keys is an incredibly beautiful woman with or without makeup.) Sometimes I think it’s a hard movement for the rest of us to get on board with when we have someone who is so naturally beautiful as our champion. Regardless, her movement to challenge the definition of beauty is not lost on me and womankind in 2016.
But also, I sometimes really like wearing makeup. It makes my eyes pop, evens my skin tone and makes me feel more confident (and thus more outgoing and social). And, yes, it helps hide the tired on my face.
It’s a wonderful choice to have as a woman in 2016. I get to control my image and what other people see, with or without makeup.
Katie Bell is a Portland-based freelance writer who has contributed to publications throughout Maine, New England and London.