It wasn’t until my senior year graduation in June of 2020 that I started wearing makeup, so I was kind of a late bloomer going into this world of beauty and cosmetics. In retrospect, maybe it was for all the wrong reasons.
In elementary and middle school, I wore makeup for the first time for dance recitals twice a year, and once I stopped taking lessons, I didn’t wear makeup again (or want to, for that matter) until I was 18. It was never my favorite thing as a kid either because of how much my mom had to cake on my face as stage makeup, so it wasn’t something I cared to wear afterward. Also, she didn’t want my sister and me wearing makeup regularly anyway, so I had an out for not wearing it besides not liking the feeling.
Once I got to high school, I started to notice how many other girls were wearing makeup on a daily basis. This was also the time when I could really comprehend the beauty standards and marketing to teenage girls who did want to wear makeup. While my sister did like wearing makeup and started wearing at least mascara regularly toward the end of her eighth grade, I was still not wearing anything. My excuse was that I didn’t like it on me, which I didn’t, and that I didn’t have the will to put makeup on in the morning before school, especially as someone who isn’t a morning person. I saw wearing makeup like getting a tattoo, where it looks good on other people, but it just wasn’t for me. It might have also been because I had that mindset of being different from everyone else for not conforming to this idea that girls have to wear makeup, but that was a terrible thing to think as a kid because people have the right to like what they like.
It wasn’t until last June that I decided to try wearing makeup again — mostly so I would be a little more dressed up for my abnormal graduation. I went out and purchased a small set of drugstore makeup products to start my collection. Part of it was mostly out of pandemic boredom. Doing my makeup and practicing how to apply everything gave me something to do, especially as the summer vacation at home was beginning. However, I think another part of me wanted to start wearing makeup to look “prettier” and more mature. I know that I look younger than 18, and it never bothered me until my senior year of high school, and I wanted to make sure that I would look older going into college. Again, not a great way to start off wearing makeup on a semi-regular basis.
Another part of the teenage beauty standards also came from getting an Instagram account for the first time. I didn’t get one until I was 17 because my parents didn’t want me on social media, but once I did get one, it did open my eyes to these standards for young women that I was only sort of privy to through movies and TV. On Instagram, you can see everything, from fun DIY projects to women who may be more confident in their appearance than you are. There is a slippery distinction between liking and following someone because of their looks versus their content and personality, and it’s valuable to learn that you can’t change your face, even with makeup. That confidence in yourself is something you need to get to, and it takes time.
While I am definitely not the most confident person in the world, I have come to a point where the days I wear makeup are because I just want to. I like playing with colors, and it makes me feel a little more put together in this monotonous time. This feeling might go away when the pandemic is over, but it’s been really helpful to give me something new to do during my days.