My makeup has been a lot of places. Wherever my face has been, to be precise. This means it’s trekked to see gorillas in Rwanda, attempted to stay on my skin during some seriously humid nights during Carnival in Rio (A for effort, makeup), and recently laid out beachside in Miami.
I can’t seem to leave the house without makeup. No matter how much that does not make sense. Like in the aforementioned humidity situation.
Let me preempt judge-y thoughts by stating for the record that I do NOT think that all women or all humans should abide by this custom. I am completely envious of all of you fresh-faced demi-gods who don’t need a lick of concealer or who simply can’t be bothered to think about applying makeup on a regular basis.
My mother would fall into that camp. In our family, vanity skips a generation. My mother, who was my age in the seventies, had the perfect quasi-hippie hair: stick straight and long and she also had an aversion to trying too hard.
When she told me she rode her bicycle to class every day of college in Ohio I asked her, “How did you wear a skirt while riding a bike?” She looked at me incredulously,
“Um, we didn’t wear skirts.” Touché.
She has since cut her hair and gotten some highlights (she was a 40-year-old hair virgin, which is pretty unheard of), but she’s still managed to keep her beauty routine natural and subtle. Her mother was the exact opposite. My grandmother’s goal above all else is to look polished. Cue high-waisted, belted khakis, jewel tone sweaters, gold ballet flats and loads of gold jewelry.
My grandmother goes to the “beauty shop” once a week. She’s the only person I’ve ever met who uses the word beauty shop. I think it means hair salon, though I’m not completely sure. Something is done to her (dyed) hair there and she doesn’t wash it for a week, until she goes back the next week to get it done again. WHY can’t I find a salon that can perform this magic for me!?
My grandmother is definitely my style soulmate. I don’t have her acrylic nails (anymore), but I do own gold ballet flats like hers and my hair is SO not close to its natural color even I wouldn’t recognize my real color at this point. I’ve been dyeing it since I was 13, first with the help of friends, then with professionals (shout out to Fringe Salon in the Lower East Side!).
While there’s nothing wrong with having fun with a beauty routine, my refusal to leave the house without makeup seems to annoy both my mother and my boyfriend. This typically involves some sort of a scenario with a grocery store, on the weekend.
“Do I really have to wait for you to put on makeup? It’s just Duane Reade,” my boyfriend says, freshly rolled out of bed.
I can admit I have a pretty serious dependency issue. Duane Reade is across the street. Like I can probably take 15 steps between the door of my building and the door to Duane Reade but bare faced? Not gonna happen. Neighbors could see me, doormen could see me, fellow Duane Reade shoppers, the Duane Reade staff, I mean, the list of possible encounters is infinite.
One of the reasons I really love fashion and beauty is for its transformative power. You can be whoever you want to be just by changing your look. You can cheat nature, cheat conceptions; you can mainly cheat your own ideas about the limits of who you are. But as great as that is, I really just want to be comfortable with myself and not have that relate to my physical appearance in ANY way.
I think it comes down to the same impetus my grandma feels to put on makeup every damn day: to at least appear like you have your shit together. It’s a tough world out there. A girl’s gotta have her defenses up, and for me this means foundation and eyeliner.