Ten years ago, I moved back to the United States with a shipping container full of makeup and a dream. (OK - the part about the dream is a joke.)
Like many women, perhaps more than most, I believe that cosmetics - liberally applied - will lead to a dramatic life transformation. It's not exactly vanity. More of throw-your-hands-up-well-at-the-very-least-you'll-stumble-through-your-miserable-little-life-looking "put together"-sort-of-thing. A belief in the possibilities being sold across the counter. A solution to every problem. Or, at minimum, an everyday enjoyment of some nicely scented stuff.
My first makeup artist was Gary at Charles Ifergan in Chicago. The gay Carmindy of his time, Gary knew what he was doing and he made me not only look, but feel beautiful. He provided me with a take-home Xerox copy of a face, with all the colors brushed right on. A kind of road map to beauty. Though I don't wear the "face" anymore, I still have all the relevant cosmetics (and the map) in my drawer. I can't bear to throw it away the memory of what beautiful felt like.
The origins of this life approach can be traced back to my youth. By 7th grade, I was spending my entire weekly allowance at Walgreen's on Noxema and nail polish, trying to sneak into the house without my "not even lip gloss until you're in 8th grade" mother hearing the crinkle of the paper bag in my hands.
You know what I'm talking about. That internal, teenage feeling of hideous-ness that has relatively little to do with how you actually look on the outside. Where does that come from? One day, you're happy enough and the next the inner troll just appears - whispering comments in your ear as you cross the lunch room: that boy will never love you; if you just had the right jeans with a Goody comb in your back pocket things might be different.
And, just often enough, hair, makeup and clothing does change life on the inside. Ask any fan of TLC's What Not to Wear. The most dramatic transformations are those we watch happening on the inside - the TV client looks in the mirror and usually, for the first time in a long time, sees their own worth. A person worthy of being taken care of, a body and a spirit that has been given permission. A person that deserves time, care, and respect. Maybe a stronger person doesn't need to wear makeup to feel all of that. But that person wouldn't be me.
Tell me about your experiences with (or without) makeup.