My mum was a brilliant woman. So was my grandmother. So is my aunt. So is my other aunt. It’s pretty cool the amount of brain power all the wymmyns be bringin’ all up in this family. I used to sit on the corner of mum’s bed and watch her put on “her face” in the morning, and I never really understood what all of that was about. Sure, wearing makeup is a rite of passage in western culture, but it was always a nonsensical one to me.
I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to feel like they look their best. I do, however, begrudge the entire society that tells people they don’t look their best without all that shit on their faces. That imperfections aren’t part of the beauty. That youth and smooth skin are the acme of attractiveness. I tried wearing makeup. I really did. I had the foundation (mousse, because the other stuff just made me feel like I was wearing grease paint from drama productions), the eyeshadow (greens and browns), the mascara, the lip gloss. I tried curling my eyelashes (nearly put out my own eyes multiple times. Note: eyelash curlers are basically the exact shape and size as an eyeball scooper-outer).
It was different when I wore theatrical makeup or when I hid behind the white foundation and the black eyeliner. Or I guess I didn’t hide behind it so much as I just really liked the aesthetic. That was conceptually different for me because although it still hurt (putting anything on my face, even most moisturisers, hurts. It burns like burning things), it wasn’t about trying to be someone else’s ideal of what was attractive. It was about what I liked to look at in the mirror.
Anyway. Point here is that I never quite grokked makeup. Fast forward a few years, and an aesthetician I was in a play with told me I probably have rosacea. That certainly made sense, as my cheeks have always been apple-red, and the skin on my face is prone to burning. Not from the sun, but from sunblock, lotion, moisturiser, cosmetics, and pointed stares. I don’t really care most of the time. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, and I deal with it as best I can. Some day if it gets Really Bad, I’ll go see a dermatologist. For now, it’s just one of those annoying things, like those wee little ants at your picnic.
Today I went to a cosmetics shop, because I’m tired of the burst blood vessels in my cheeks making me look like a drunk. I walked in and I said, “hello, cosmetics consultants. I do not wear cosmetics. I do not wish to start wearing cosmetics. I do, however, wish to stop looking like a drunk because of my rosacea. Please help.”
It only took a little bit of me saying “no, that is foundation. I do not want foundation. I do not want to even out my skin tone. I want to make the burst blood vessels in my cheeks look less red, without having to put crap on my whole face” and “sister, the only blending I do is with ice, tequila, and margarita mix” before the consultant showed me a moisturiser (which I may or may not be able to use; we’re testing it today) and a colour-correcting cream that is not a tinted moisturiser or a foundation or anything I have to match to anything else. I said, “it takes me less than two minutes to get ready in the morning. I don’t want to add to that.”
She said, “what the hell are you talking about? It takes me two hours!”
I did the math.
That’s like a month a year she spends getting ready to leave her house. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what she wants to do, more power to her. But I’m sure as shit not giving up a whole month a year just to gouge out my own eyes and paint minerals on my skin.
She asked me about my “beauty routine”. I said it was reading.