The Beauty And My Beast

Like every other young girl, I was fascinated with makeup at a very young age. My first ever makeup encounter was watching this lady on the subway smoothly swiping on this gorgeous bright shade of red lipstick with steady hands during morning rush hour. After that, I was hooked, I was obsessed, and I fell in love with makeup.  I would scour all magazines at the dentist and pediatrician’s office in hopes of finding new makeup trends and new products. I never wore it because I was still quite young at this age, around the 3rd or 4th grade, but my obsession for makeup grew and grew until I could actually start buying it. Nothing nice like Givenchy or Anastasia Beverly Hills, but rather, in middle school, I would save up my weekly $20 allowance and head to the local Walgreens or Rite Aid and look for the cheapest deals in Covergirl, Maybelline, and L’Oreal. I started buying random products I didn’t know how to use; loose powder that was too dark for me, bright colored eyeshadows that I didn’t know how to blend properly on my eyelid, dry eyeliners with no pigment - but none of that mattered to me because I got to have my own products for the first time.

Fast forward a year or two, I had discovered Michelle Phan on YouTube. A few minutes into her video on “Natural Looking Makeup Tutorial”, I had declared her to be my very first role model- she was everything I had wanted to become. I binged her videos every single day after that, slowly discovering more and more of these YouTube beauty gurus. At this age, I merely only played around with makeup at home. I never felt the need to wear it out because well, let’s be honest and try to imagine a middle school me playing around with kohl liner, black and brown eyeshadow with bright red lipstick. I was naïve but not that naïve. Within the next few months of watching makeup videos on top of makeup videos, I started learning more of what products I should be buying, how to match my foundation to my skin color, how to pick the right concealer, the right setting powder, etc. My makeup collection grew with my knowledge and soon my cabinet at home no longer had enough space to fit my obsession.

At this point, I was still learning about makeup but had a pretty comfortable understanding of the techniques and application of it. I was about to start high school, transitioning to become one of the “older kids” as the younger me would have put it. But then it happened – I started getting acne. Not just the one or two pimples kind, but a few of all over my face kind. Truth be told, it didn’t bother me nor made me feel self-conscience at all at first. However, as the first two years of high school went on, I started feeling the need to cover up more of my face. Adding on primers, foundation, concealer, setting powder – all the works. I had a few people make jokes and remarks at me, but being the prideful person that I am, I never showed that I was butthurt or that hearing that made me immediately feel so much smaller than I was. 85% of all teenagers get acne (UC Davis Health). I knew that number was big, but it just felt like it was me against everyone else at times.

Somehow along the way of being passionate about makeup, I became dependent on it. Every morning, I would get up at 5:30 AM to make sure I had time to put on my moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, and etc., get breakfast, get on the bus and then later to transfer to the train and be at school by 8 A.M.  I did this for all four years in high school. To be honest, part of me does not regret it. In my mind at that point in time, I was just falling more in love with makeup. I just kept expanding more of my collection and finally starting to buy nicer brands for myself like Laura Mercier, Becca, Urban Decay, and so on. Yet, I didn’t know how to value myself if I didn’t have makeup. I didn’t know how to appreciate myself and love myself without makeup. There was a fine line between me loving makeup for me and me needing makeup to be me. I had crossed it without realizing it and it took me a really long time to even realize and acknowledge that.

To be clear, I never confused myself thinking that me with makeup is who I really looked like, I knew I looked slightly different with and without it, but it was me not being able to appreciate who I am and solely relying on makeup to value myself by that made me so nervous to go to college. Living with a roommate, hall mates passing by, friends stopping by at night – all of this made me feel truly vulnerable and anxious to see how they would value me with and without my shield. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely without a doubt love (like really love love love) makeup, but opening up and admitting that the one thing I had loved all my life was also hurting me was the hardest part. I grew up admiring makeup products, makeup artists, everything and anything beauty related – and somehow along the way, it consumed me and made me forget me.

Now nearly two years into college, I’m still working on learning how to appreciate myself for who I am. I’m not perfect, I still get nervous not wearing makeup just as much I still feel very vulnerable at times without it. This whole learning and being-honest-to-myself process took a lot of time and support from my friends and sorority sisters.

To simply put it, makeup is for you; it highlights your best features while hiding what you want to hide. Yes, you can drastically change your physical appearance with a few swipes of this and that, but who you are as a person, how you value yourself – that will never change unless you realize how you are the same individual with and without it.