The Power of Makeup

Location: 
Manhattan, New York
United States
US

When I was a little girl, my favorite part of an afternoon at grandma’s house was sitting with her at her kitchen table and going through her makeup bag. I would ask her what every product would do and why she needed it. With a laugh, her response was always “Remember Kiara, never walk out of the house without your eyebrows on and never forget your blush.” I would sit there at her kitchen table wide-eyed with excitement, leaving her house always wanting to know more about the fascinating items she put on her face. Why did she do it? I found out the answer as I got older; makeup is a tool that can turn on confidence.

Growing up, none of my friends talked about make-up and I wasn’t allowed to wear it because of my young age. However, one night at my friend’s house, it all changed. I remember sitting in her room with nothing to do on a lousy, rainy night. A few clicks later on her laptop, we ended up on this website called YouTube and we watched almost every makeup tutorial available. If I can think all the way back to 2012, the names StilaBabe09, MacBarbie07, and MakeupbyMandy24 were all watched religiously by myself and my adolescent friends. Those videos are low quality compared to the YouTube videos of today, to a point that almost seems comical. Little did we know that these women would become what is known today as Beauty Influencers.

When I got home from my friend’s house that night, I ran upstairs and went straight to my mom’s makeup bag. I pulled out her mascara and eyeliner and studied everything from the packaging to the product itself; it’s safe to say I was mesmerized. At this point I knew I couldn’t ask for much, so I started off with the simple request for mascara, as most 11-year-old girly-girls do. The very first time I applied mascara, I felt a surge of power. I felt like I could conquer any challenge that came my way. My new found fascination led me to always wanting to go into the makeup section of drugstores. Then, of course, there was this store called Sephora that I dreamed about day and night. This place was Makeup Heaven and filled with different types of makeup I could not wait to try. I can recall all of my first purchases: the first lipstick, the first blush, and the first eye shadow. My face became my canvas for expression with hours spent in front of my vanity, practicing new skills.

In my small Catholic elementary school, the first day I walked in with mascara, eyeliner, and lip-gloss is one day that can’t be erased from my memory. Looking back at this particular day, I can say my 11-year-old self was a badass for doing her own thing, but if you were to ask 11-year-old Kiara about it, she’d probably not let you speak because all she wanted to do was fit in. Oh elementary school, I can’t imagine why people don’t miss it... The boys laughed at my face and the girls were all asking about my drastic change in appearance, all because of a hint of mascara, a touch of eyeliner, and a swipe of lip gloss. Many, especially those charming pre-pubescent boys, thought it was because I was insecure about myself and wanted to impress everyone.

Up until recently, makeup was seen as something to cover insecurity. When I started wearing makeup, I wore it for me and no one else; this has always remained the same. Makeup was never something that I felt l needed to wear; it was always because I loved it. Every day, I wake up and I am able to put on what I want to convey to everyone around me, my best self. In fact, my favorite part of the day is that 10 minutes I give myself in the morning to put on my makeup. Even though I went to an all-girls’ high school, about 95 percent of the time I was seen by my peers with “my face” on. Nobody really understood why I cared about my appearance, especially because the point of an all-girl school is to not worry about how you look. Well, just because there were no boys around did not mean I couldn’t look good for myself; I liked to wear something just to make me look a little perkier.

Every day I try to be the best version of myself and makeup helps me achieve this. Every morning I put makeup on and face another hectic day in the life of a student, knowing that everything, even though stressful, will be fine. How could it not be fine when your face is beat? Who would want to mess with a girl like that? Every night I take my makeup off, leaving the problems that occurred behind me. By doing this, I can begin each new day with a fresh face, with a positive outlook on the future and not permit the negative past to hold on. Makeup is a tool for empowerment, something that anyone can use to make a statement.