I Wore Makeup for the First Time at 21

During a reading break filled with drama, I got one perfect day. I laid under a blanket on my best friend's couch with her snoring, 7-pound dog. She rushed around the house, cleaning various things while we caught up on life; she put muffins in the oven and the house smelled like love.Then,I asked her to do something that she had been begging me to let her do since we met.

"Oh my God. Of course I will! Get up!"

"Right now? Joelle's asleep."

"Put my dog down and get in here."

Huddled in front of the bathroom mirror, she showed me how to put on makeup.


The summer before I turned ten, I swore that I would never wear makeup in my life. The reason? My sister and I had just read our first women's health magazine and we were pissed. Every other word was "sexy," "sex" or "sexiness," the meaning of life appeared to be sexiness, and the only way to get sexy was to lose pounds fast! I think what we were most disturbed by was the fact that the women in the magazine did not look like real people. Naturally, we rebelled. 


That day, I wrote my own women's magazine, called Real Ladies. “Real Ladies” did not devote their lives to meeting society's everchanging, impossible beauty standards. They loved themselves the way they were; they were not embarrassed by extra weight, blotchy skin, anything that people deemed imperfect, and they never wore makeup. They knew that we were all born beautiful. That night, I passed my magazine around a circle of neighbors at a block party. They smiled, they asked to subscribe, they said “Good for you honey, you know what's up.” I drank smoothies with half a can of whipped cream on each, ran through the sprinkler with the other kids, felt good in my swimsuit and makeup-free face.


Over the next few years, my friends and I grew from kids to teenagers. I watched them adopt skinny jeans and silly bands, start experimenting with flat irons and hair dye and calling themselves ugly. Alas, makeup came along. It made me sadder than it should have. I think it was because I saw it as a tool to hide people, as something people reached for when they felt bad about the way they looked. I understand now that that's not necessarily the case at all, but back in 2011, I did not.


When I had my first figure skating show, my coach asked me to wear makeup. I reluctantly agreed but woke up that morning feeling sick with dread. My mom asked if I was nervous about performing, and I said no. She asked me what the problem was, and I realized it was the makeup I was upset about. I texted my coach and asked if I really had to wear it. 


“For girls your age, it's preferred, but I can't make you do anything.” She replied. I put on my brand new dress with silver and blue curlicues, did my hair in a ballet bun, left my face completely alone and felt on top of the world. I never did wear makeup to a skating show. Every time, I felt beautiful and— more importantly— I felt powerful. I went through middle school, high school, and two years of college without it. I went to dances, parties, job interviews. I went on dates and had my first kiss.


So why did I ask my friend to teach me about makeup? I have some health issues and I got tired of, on the worse days, looking as sick as I felt. So I asked if she would show me how to cover the darkness under my eyes. Afterwards, she said, "You look really good, Blaine. You look so much more awake."


Three days later, I bought foundation. I covered my circles, and then put on some mascara too, because why not? Physically, I did not feel great that day. I looked in the mirror and I swear the person looking back at me gave me energy. It lasted the whole day. I felt more confident. I talked more, I sat next to new people, I smiled a lot.


Maybe someday I will have my healthy glow 100% back. Maybe at that point, I won't wear makeup, or maybe I will.I think the most important thing to me is, I can leave home without it and not feel embarrassed, ugly or unworthy. I enjoy it now, but at the end of the day, I feel comfortable in my own skin whether it's decorated with makeup or left alone.There are a million and one different reasons why a person might wear makeup, and almost none of them are bad reasons. I think people should wear it if it makes them feel good and leave it off if they don't care about it. My only hope is that whatever everyone decides to do, they still feel good about their natural appearance, while also realizing that physical beauty is not ever the most important thing in life.