My Relationship with Makeup

*any and all men instantly click away*


Hi! I'm Katherine and for the one person who reads this blog (hi Mom) welcome back to another post. This topic is something I find myself talking about a lot, since I've been wearing makeup since eighth grade and I tend to wear a lot of it. And although I discuss the topic of my makeup wearing a lot, I don't often discuss the reasons behind it or the way a lot of the comments I receive make me feel about it.


But hey, this blog is supposed to be 100% me, so here it is: open and raw and 100% me.


My mom had a lot of rules growing up that revolved around turning a certain age. I couldn't get my ears pierced until I was thirteen. I couldn't go on a date until I was sixteen (although that was more my church's rule than my mother's). I couldn't wear makeup until I was in eighth grade.


I am eternally grateful for the makeup rule because I got to completely bypass the middle school blue eyeshadow phase. My mother's rules about makeup were simple: I could start wearing mascara in eighth grade, eyeliner in ninth, and then anything I wanted in tenth. So that's what I did: in eighth grade I started wearing mascara and in ninth grade I started wearing eyeliner. Or, more specifically, in ninth grade I tried using a pencil to do winged eyeliner. I hide pictures from that year.


But something else happened in ninth grade that severely impacted me, and still impacts me to this day. I don't want to go into too much detail because I'm sure in the future I will want to do an entire post on the subject, but I was bullied by four different people in two different outlets during the entirety of my freshman year of high school, and one of the outlets continued into my sophomore year as well, although the number of bullies in my life dropped from four to one.


But during my freshman year it was the absolute worst of it. I felt like everywhere I turned, I was being belittled for my appearance. I wasn't the cutest teenager, but I also wasn't a trash dump to look at. I had some major acne and I always thought my nose was too big, and my eyes weren't the best-looking. But overall I had never felt bad about the way I looked before. I was just...me. Then high school came, and the attacks came at me from what felt like all sides. The most intense of the appearance-centered bullying came from two boys at my high school, both of whom would call me a "horse face" and neigh at me when I walked past them in the hallways.


I don't know if that sounds silly to you, but it was absolutely traumatizing to me. I was a freshman with a solid friend group that I had had since the sixth grade and earlier, with an incredibly loving family. I had never been picked on before, and I had always tried to be kind to everyone. So these two boys, combined with the bullying I experienced in a place other than school, made me feel like I was worth absolutely nothing. I was fourteen years old. I am now twenty-one, and this still sometimes makes me cry when I think about it.


So when tenth grade hit and I was able to change my appearance through as much makeup as I was willing to pay for, I did it. Did it look amazing right away? Absolutely not. I was constantly changing what I liked and didn't like, but by halfway through my sophomore year a full face of makeup, winged eyeliner (with a liquid eyeliner at this point) included, was a part of my daily routine. By this time, the bullying from the "horse face" boys had stopped. No one was making fun of the way I looked anymore (and to this day, I cannot tell you what "horse face" meant. That I had a long face? That I had a big nose? Absolutely no idea), and something in my brain attributed that to the makeup I wore.


I didn't leave the house without makeup on. I didn't feel like I looked "like myself" without winged eyeliner. I still to this day struggle with loving my face without makeup. Because when I was in high school, at an age where all you want in life is to fit in, I started using makeup as a defense mechanism against the face that I hated. Because if I had had a different face, maybe I wouldn't have been bullied. That was what I thought. I have such vivid memories of coming home from school and sobbing in the bathroom so that my mom couldn't hear me, staring in the mirror and wondering what was so wrong with the way that I looked. It created a hatred of myself inside of me that has taken me years of actively working on it to overcome...and I'm still not totally there.


As I got older and into the last years of high school, I remember comments from people at church, from family members, from friends. "You wear so much makeup. You know you don't need all of that, right?" "You would look so much better without all of that stuff on your face." "You're so naturally pretty, why don't you let everyone see that?" "Why do you wear so much makeup? Who are you trying to impress?"


Who was I trying to impress? I was in a relationship at that point, and he had seen me without makeup. I wasn't trying to impress him. I wasn't trying to impress people at school. I wasn't even trying to impress myself. I was trying to not hate myself.


If anyone reads this post, they'll probably be shocked. Because by the end of high school, I carried myself with a confidence that bordered on being conceited. I thought that if I projected this confidence to the world, eventually I would start to buy it too. I told everyone that I wore that much makeup because I enjoyed putting it on, and I enjoyed how I looked. I told everyone that I knew I didn't "need" the makeup. I just liked it.


That was a lie.


It has taken all of the past seven years to learn to re-love myself. And I'm still not there completely. But I wanted to write this and put it out there because even as I sit here typing, I'm wearing a full face of makeup. But the difference is that I don't hate the face beneath it anymore. I genuinely enjoy doing my makeup in the morning. But if there's a morning that I don't feel like it, then I don't do it. And as silly as it sounds, I am so proud of myself for that.


So my relationship with makeup is a love-hate one. I love the confidence I have when I wear it, and I love doing it in the morning. But I hate the reasons behind why I started wearing so much of it in the first place. And while this post might be silly or pointless to you, it's something that I've wanted to share for a really long time. It's also something I wanted to share because honestly...women can wear makeup for whatever reason they want. And telling us that we look so much better without it isn't a compliment. You don't know the baggage a lot of women carry about the way they look, whether it has to do with their face or their stomach or their thighs or their...anything.


And it's okay to still be working on loving yourself. It's okay to still have to consciously remind yourself that you are beautiful. It's perfectly normal to have doubts about yourself. We're all working on something. Some of us are just working really hard on loving ourselves.

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