On a recent weekend away with a girlfriend, I noticed she doesn’t wear makeup. I’ve known her a while, so of course I know she doesn’t wear it all the time, but I’d assumed there would be an occasion, dinner perhaps, when she might slick on some mascara or unwind the lippy; but no. She remains bare faced (and bare lipped) all day, every day.
I, on the other hand, am appalled at the idea of being seen barefaced by anyone. I’m far too self-conscious (read “vain”) to let anyone see that my pores are too big and I’m as wan as moonlight (irrespective of how much I sunbathe). The idea that I might leave my bedroom without my face on is the stuff of nightmares. It’s pathetic, I know, but I really do feel that self-conscious about it. I’m convinced that it makes a huge difference to my appearance, and more: that I actually look quite unappealing without it.
At an absolute minimum I wear BB cream, powder, blusher and mascara, even if all I’m doing is walking the dog. I almost always have lipstick on as well (who says women in their forties can’t wear red?) and I can’t live without under-eye concealer. Added to that I have my hair dyed every couple of months and my nails painted every fortnight (I would do it myself but previous attempts show that more paint ends up on my hands and carpet than nails. Dainty I am not.)
All of this inevitably means I spend considerable time putting on my face, just to take it off again. Years, probably. Even I can see how absurd this is – after all, no harm has befallen my friend, or the many thousands of beautiful women who happily choose not plaster their faces with stuff on a thrice-daily basis. I just wish I was brave enough to stop bothering with it at least some of the time.
And then, last night, I sat in front of my dressing table to get ready for a night out with the girls. BF was with me at the time. He watched quietly as I removed a full face of makeup, and then reapplied it all again, before I was ready to leave. He was unmoved by explanations that I was “freshening up” and informed me, albeit kindly, that I looked exactly the same before the “freshening” as after. Even I had to concede that this was probably true, and that I was not just being vain, but wasting quite a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) convincing myself that only with a full mask on was I able to leave the house. Hardly what you’d call empowering.
So this week I have decided to make some changes. I write this from the peace and quiet of my kitchen table on a Sunday morning. I have showered and dressed but brushing my hair is the only part of my beauty regime that I have maintained. Not so much as a smear of lip salve has made its way to my face. Ok, so there’s no one here but me and the dogs, but it’s a start…