It’s been a month since I last went out in public wearing makeup.
That’s right, despite…well, no real temptations, other than the idea that I could wear stage makeup for the show I’m doing interactive audience work with, I made it thirty full days without a single application of eyeliner. Without a hint of blush. With no highlights that nature didn’t give me.
Taken in aggregate, my documentary pictures are a study of natural versus artificial lighting, sleepy-eye puffiness, and the difference between the actual iPhone camera on the back of the phone and the camera when you turn the image around so you can see what the phone is recording.
So what was it like, not wearing makeup for a month?
Well, as you might have gathered, it really wasn’t that difficult.
The one thing I did notice is that I do, in fact, still get puffy eyes most of the time. Maybe part of this is that I took most pictures in the morning right after getting up. But it’s always been something I noticed in myself, and I notice it in these pictures too. I’m still a dark circles/puffy eye lady. Maybe it’s nothing a couple of refrigerated spoons applied til warm couldn’t help. I also don’t think it’s a huge deal.
I honestly thought I was going to be treated differently, but I noticed no such thing. For the most part, my face is my face. I rarely wear such ridiculous amounts of makeup as to look like a different person, like in that documentary about porn stars before and after makeup application. That’s a good thing. I think plenty of people didn’t even really notice I wasn’t wearing makeup.
The question becomes: What happens tomorrow?
Well, I have a bunch of client meetings tomorrow, and just for kicks I think I’ll probably really doll myself up. Just to see what that’s like after a hiatus. After that…
Honestly, I’ll probably go back to a certain amount of makeup each day. Some concealer, some eyeliner. There’s a pleasure in it for me. Especially now that I see that people don’t start to treat me fundamentally differently when I’m makeup-less. It feels less like something imposed on me now and more like a choice to make for myself.
I also want to be honest about something. I talk a big game about not caring about looks, about how looks aren’t important, they’re something you’re born with and shouldn’t define you, yadda yadda yadda. I think on the one hand I believe this more now, seeing that artificial cosmetics don’t usually account for drastic changes in treatment, and it’s most likely more about whatever genetic jackpot you won, lost, or drew in.
I just want to cop to the fact that I’m not perfect. I’ve been meeting a bunch of people in this new program and I find myself drawn to the mentors who are more conventionally attractive. It’s a small but, to me, pretty stark example of how our looks impact our lives, even when we’re aware of how problematic basing any kind of judgment off appearances alone can be.
I was hoping I’d have a big light bulb to share at the end of this month, but all I have is this: If you’re hygienic, you probably don’t have to worry too much about whether or not you put on concealer that day. People probably don’t notice, and even if they do, it’s not enough to create a significant change in their behavior. Try to be aware of your own biases when it comes to how people look. It’s a step forward to just notice when you look more favorably on someone because they’re conventionally good-looking. Noticing is the step that leads to being able to do something to counteract any unconscious bias.
And if we’re going full-out confession, I’m glad I look the way I look. I like it. I like me. I think I’m pretty darn cute, with or without eyeshadow. It feels like vanity to say, but I choose to interpret it as a healthy self-image. These days, when I look into a mirror, I feel like I’m not just seeing isolated body parts–a creased eye here, a stomach bulge there, the pronounced curve of a nose when I turn–but a gestalt, something greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s something I’m not just comfortable with but happy with.
All in all, I’ll take it. And I’ll adorn it–this face, this body–as it pleases me, day by day.