How Makeup (Ironically) Taught Me to Love Myself

I never thought of makeup as an essential part of life. To be honest, I didn’t really think it was all that necessary. I first started experimenting with makeup when I got to college, which may seem crazy to some people. Well, experimenting is a bit of a stretch for me but at least that was when I began voluntarily putting some on. I know for some girls, they start using makeup as early as middle school.

From what some of my friends told me and from the what we see in the media, a mother is supposed to teach their daughter about makeup, and introduce them to the million different products. My mom did none of that, but it wasn’t because she just neglected to show me how to use makeup. In all honesty, I didn’t really give her any cues that I was interested in it anyway, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t expect her to randomly drag me to a makeup store and buy me stuff. But nonetheless, it still didn’t happen.

For awhile I thought because we never shared that mother and daughter moment, I wasn’t experiencing life as a woman, or at least the image that society portrays a woman to be. For some time I did think that I “failed” as a woman because I didn’t wear makeup on the regular. I saw all these girls around me and my closest friends wearing it, and I just felt uncomfortable and inadequate. One time my aunt asked me, “Hey Theresa, when are you going to wear makeup? You’re a teenager now.” I just looked at her in silence and didn’t reply. And in a way, I felt like I disappointed her for being myself and that left me feeling awful about who I was. It’s like I missed a crucial step in my adolescence.I think my hesitation towards makeup comes from the fact that most women in my family never wore it. Everyone was natural and they went with it, especially my mom. To me, she is one of the most beautiful women in the world and doesn’t need to wear makeup or to alter her body to become more “attractive.” Seeing makeup on women challenged that notion that I had growing up. It made me question myself whether or not I should do what makes me feel comfortable, or do what is expected of me.

This uncertainty came back when it was prom season. At the time, my boyfriend’s mother  offered to do my makeup and I agreed to let her do it. It meant a lot to me because I was able to save some money. When she was younger, she used to be a teen model so she was able to gain tons of tips on how to do makeup. At first, I was intimidated and kind of scared at what she was going to do to me; prom is the time to be extra and she did not hold back on me at all! In the end, I ended up looking stunning, for lack of a better word. I never saw myself look like that before and I got tons of compliments from my friends about it, too. But there was this voice in the back of my head yelling at me “You don’t even look like yourself. You look fake!”; or even, “The only reason why everyone thinks you’re pretty is with your makeup. They wouldn’t have said it any other time.” It was those thoughts I had that made me feel so inadequate, and later, so relieved when I took all the makeup off at the end of the night.I’d like to say that that moment was a real turning point for me not just on my views about makeup, but about how I viewed myself. It was time for me to stop putting myself down as aggressively as I always have, and just accept myself. (And possibly try an amount of makeup that makes me feel comfortable). Ultimately, I compromised with myself and now I do the minimal amount. It isn’t a lot to make me feel like I’m faking my image, but it’s enough to show that I’m trying to grow as a person.

I can honestly say that this all stemmed from growing up with a lot of insecurities. I felt like I was never going to be considered pretty because my natural hair never went past my shoulders. I felt like I was never going to be complimented on my eyes because they’re too dark to see the brown. I felt like no one was going to take me seriously because I’m only 5’2. Bu it took a lot of self-love and positive influences around me to realize I’m perfect the way I am. Don’t get me wrong, I still think these things now, but now they aren’t as damaging to my image as they once were. I’m learning to accept who I am and that’s more than half the battle.