My Face is a Canvas for Change: Why I Do Makeup for Myself, Not Others

Whenever I do my full face of makeup, which consists of foundation, eyeliner, shadow, lipstick and mascara, people usually ask me what the occasion is or who I'm trying to impress. This implies that I need an outside influence to push me to wear makeup, as if the main purpose of me looking polished is to ease the eyes of others. I don’t know why, but I feel like it objectifies my face in a way.

But the truth is that I don’t wear makeup for others — I just do it for my own satisfaction.

I didn’t really regularly wear makeup until high school, but at the time, I actually just did it to impress boys. I started with just eyeliner, because I thought it made guys more attracted to my eyes. Then it progressed to a full face of makeup every day. It progressed to this because I saw MUAs (makeup artists) all over social media with great makeup, and I wanted to up my game to be like them.

However, the more I did my makeup as part of my regular routine, the more I realized I was gaining intrinsic satisfaction from making my face look like a piece of art.

I always loved looking at different MUA accounts on Twitter and learning from pictures online. Seeing professionals do their craft challenged me to improve my skills and taught me how to be creative. When I do my makeup, I always try to be more artistic and original, and this causes me to become for receptive to change because I am changing how I normally look very often.

I liked that my face is basically a canvas that I paint all over with makeup. It also is an expression of how I feel and how I want to present myself to the world that day. I could look sweet, sexy, badass — anything that I want to be.

During high school, I experienced body image issues because of my weight and also because of my dermatillomania. That’s a big word, and it is the obsession of picking at your skin compulsively. Dermatillomania is closely related to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and it is technically a mental illness. I have struggled with it since I hit puberty in elementary school, and it seriously kicked my butt. People both in my family and my peers would comment on it whenever they got the chance to. It made my mental health suffer. It is also a big reason why I started doing makeup. I was ashamed of my face, and I wanted to cover it up.

My makeup did indeed help me cover up my scars, but it also allowed for them to heal because I didn’t see them. “Out of sight, out of mind” really resonates with me. It helped ease my compulsion at times, and I am grateful for that. I wouldn’t have to worry about possible infections or blood, and it was great. But what it also helped me realize was that I don’t need makeup every day — and I learned to love the skin underneath.

Everyone has scars in some way, shape or form. However, our society condemns scars, both mentally and physically. My face is basically filled with scars and discolorations. I am expected to hate it, but I actually don’t. I actually love my face underneath the products. It sounds strange, but my reasoning for this is that if I have the same confidence with my face full of makeup, when people around me are judging me for the amount of product on my face, then I should have the same amount of confidence with no makeup at all. I learned how to not listen to the haters around me and let the only judge of my appearance be me.

To be completely honest, makeup is what helped me become the person I am today. I know that I have to live up to my values and not anyone else’s. I live unapologetically, just like my makeup. It also helped me gain confidence when talking to people, which also helped me gain confidence without makeup. Somehow, the *badassery* of wearing makeup also helped me learn how to become a leader and assert myself to a group and not try to take the easy way out. It also helped me become honest with who I am inside and who I am to others.

Society tends to perceive those who wear heavy makeup to be fake — but I see it differently. Beauty products and the art of applying makeup has given me a greater sense of myself. All in all, splurging on lipsticks, eyeliners, and whatever other kinds of makeup I also own (thanks to my mom) has actually helped shape me into who I am.