Beauty is 10, nine of which is dressing

The complex art of face painting is still foreign to me.  And when I refer to a painting of the face, I’m just fancifying the act of applying makeup.  General, every day, convenient store selling makeup that every woman seems to have in stock.  And please don’t mistake my tone for sarcasm or disdain.  I think makeup, when applied correctly, can enhance features.  I think it may enhance a woman’s self-confidence.  It can reinvent a person in the span of minutes (again, when you are better versed in application) from a softly lit clean-faced office worker to a no-holes-barred, vixen of the night club rat, with the right smear of eyeliner.  Better yet, there appears to be no rules in making up.  People lay it on thick, or keep it quiet.  The only similarity I find amongst the made up is that they are, in fact, made up.

This has become something of a constant in my life, but I’d sooner skip the sociological implications and focus on my present predicament; namely that I feel exposed when not concealed.

This makes perfect sense when you strip it of literal and figurative meaning.  We all in some sense chose to hide in working ways so as to conceal ourselves.  The what and the way is specific and privy to the hider, but in owning up to my own insecurities I’ll admit that I slather on the makeup because I’ve convinced myself that I need it.  That without it I’m helpless, lost, subject to the ridicule we all met as children and forever fear as adults.

This is a complex problem with seemingly simple solutions: stop hiding.  Love who you are.  Be the change you wish to see in the world.I’d subscribe to all the aforementioned, but they are hard to hold onto.  Like a fad diet or anything after 5 minutes of meditation.  It’s remarkable how well we morph into something we thought we weren’t.  To demonstrate this I don’t know that I was so quick to clog my pores until my senior year of college.  As a teen I lived in the shadows of a “super hot” older sister.  She got the attention and took pains to perfect her face.  She had kind of cornered the market in physical beauty and the attention thereof, so I seemed to focus my efforts elsewhere – on school, college applications, weight, and the like.  It didn’t bolster my self-esteem, but I wasn’t preening for hours on end.

Queue college – I still seemed oblivious to the laws of female sex appeal.  I’d scurry around town with wet hair.  I wore what was comfortable and would be ready for parties in 10 minutes, when it took  many of my female counterparts hours.  Now this isn’t an exercise in bragging.  In fact, it’s hard for me to look back on a younger me; a me of waning self-assurance.  But, in turn, I also do miss the brazen lack of concern for wearing what I wanted to wear and adorning my face in a more minimalist manner.

Some things do change, though.

During my senior year I was hired as a server at a popular college bar.  My counterparts were a mix of sorority sisters and former bar keeps that wore their baby-doll uniform shirts tight, and the shorts, short.  They were choosen, in part, for their beauty.  I got the job because I knew the manager.

There was no transformation, or make-over apotheosis here.  I wore an oversized shirt to work, still, and maintained my own style.  I made friends and truly enjoyed the countless hours of beer slinging kitchen fighting.  When a group of frat boys entered I’d willingly transfer the table to some pretty young thang in exchange for the professors that frequented the joint.  I knew my strengths and never felt much pressure to change.

But I suppose you can’t be amongst that much pretty without feeling some kind of pang.  And so, I took more time to prepare myself.  I experimented with make up application.  I began to really assert myself in fashion.

Again, this is nothing to be ashamed of, and I quite like how the face becomes a palette with which to play.  But I have noticed, of late, in the many years that followed my college graduation, that while I enjoy playing with makeup and coordinating clothes, I have grown fearful of being without.  It’s as though that girl with wet hair, Bohemian skirt and oversized baby tee is no more.  Cognizant of as much, yes.  Willing to do without, I wasn’t sure…

With what would seem an about face I thought I’d start the year off confronting something close to home.  I awoke early morning, took a shower, put together a convenient and nearby ensemble and left for work with a bare face.  No makeup, no ornamentation, no nothing.

To say it felt liberating is a lie.  When I mentioned as much to my fiancé he supported me.  When he later mentioned he was meeting up with a friend after work I immediately chastised him for not inviting me on account of my not wearing makeup. 

He called me crazy.  He was right.

 It has become a veil and in not wearing it, to work and after work drinks, was more difficult a challenge than I’d initially suspected.  But it was glorious to be caught unaware – to be chatting up a co-worker or shuffling through the aisle of the bus, feeling so unencumbered, so light and free.  It was the me of years past, and a lovely little reunion at that.