A Short History of Makeup

I pulled this out of the drafts folder. I wrote it last Fall.

When I was in high school I went through a Makeup Phase. I desperately wanted to wear makeup. My parents were as desperate that I should not. So, ever the dutiful daughter, I respected their wishes. Ha ha ha, no, I wore it in secret, of course. I had a big, plastic, grocery store bag full of makeup hidden under my bed. Periodically my mother would take it away and hide it in her room. I would sneak in there and take it back, one lip gloss at a time. My big obsession was concealer because a) I had dark circles under my eyes (or so I thought) and b) it doesn’t count as makeup because if you do it right, no one sees it! Camo for your face.

In my ’20s when I was staying up late and often too drunk to remember to wash my face, I stopped with the makeup. Besides, nothing is more beautiful than a drunk 20-something. Do I need to further adorn such amazing beauty? I do not, and I need the money for beer. Bonus: if you never wear makeup and then wear some on your wedding day, people will think you just walked out of Vogue Magazine. Keep those standards low, people.

These days, I paint my toenails and put on lip balm and I’m on my way. For special occasions, I buy a new mascara. My special occasions are rare enough that if I used the same mascara it would give me eyelash botulism or whatever you get when you use an old mascara. “They” (ladymags, internet doctors, etc.) advise buying new mascara every three months.

I do have an especial weakness for lip gloss, but I also forget to apply it. I just carry it around in my purse and every once in a while, when I switch to a different purse, I find FIVE MORE LIP GLOSSES that I forgot about. Also, they are all burgundy. Why do I need to buy multiple, redundant copies of burgundy lip glosses? Someone analyze this for me? Thanks.

Lately, when I look in the mirror I am kind of horrified by my reflection. As in, I haven’t slept enough for five years. I am 37 years old. I frequently do not consume enough water. And of course I have that weird itchy skin thing that only comes around sometimes and only in some places —

— anyway, I look in the mirror and I am kind of horrified. Even pictures of me from a few years ago, when Trombone was a baby, are preferable. They are even dewy, some of them. Maybe our old camera was lower resolution? Maybe that’s why all the cool kids are going back to Polaroid?

Today (by which I mean last September, which is when I started this post,) Fresco and I were at Superstore while Trombone was at school. As we strolled through the store, killing time, getting groceries, I spotted those little compacts of pressed powder. Pressed powder is like concealer; it doesn’t really count as makeup. In theory, it should blot the shine and smooth out the blotches in your skin. That is just what I need, I thought. Just a little…blotting and smoothing.

I stared at the choices: Ultra pale. Fair. Medium. Beige. Dark. Bronzer.

I decided I wasn’t Beige. The Medium looked like pale Beige. The Dark and Bronzer were dark and bronze Beige, respectively. So I chose Fair. There were no testers. You just have to look at the little compact and go, yeah, that looks like my skin. I asked Fresco, but he was no help at all since he was testing those toothbrushes that spin.

Brilliant jackass that I am, I decided to apply my new, Fair pressed powder to my blotchy, reddish/whitish skin in the parking lot of Superstore ten minutes before we had to be back at the school to get Trombone. In my imagination, the Fair powder covered my skin with kisses and made it all smooth and one Fair, non-shiny, totally natural colour.

I tore open the packaging and pulled out the little powder puffy thing and blot! blot! smear!ed it all over my face and then looked at myself in the mirror with an expectant smile. Oh! So it turns out I have kind of an olive tone to my skin — shouldn’t I know this by now? — and this powder had kind of a pinky tone to it. My face looked, well, it looked like a baby’s ass. In a bad way. In a way that clashed with my neck, which now looked jaundiced by comparison.

Well, I thought. Maybe in the time it takes us to drive back to preschool, my skin’s oils will PUSH through the powder barrier and SOAK the powder with —

— yeah I don’t know what I thought. I hoped it would settle into my skin and look less powdery and fake. It didn’t. By the time I was back at the school I looked more like a clown than a baby’s ass, which I am sure you will agree is not much of an improvement.

I scrubbed my face with a baby wipe. That helped, uh, let’s see, not at all.

When I applied one of my burgundy lip glosses, thinking it might distract from my pink, powdery face, I appeared to turn into a full-on female impersonator, so I gave up. I pulled up the hood on my sweatshirt, threw on some sunglasses and kept my head down.

My mother was right. I don’t need makeup. And if you’re that terrified of your reflection, better to just run with it.

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11 Responses to A Short History of Makeup

  1. Arwen says:

    Aw. You’re beautiful. I mean, I really know the feeling… but I think photos are a bit like writing that you find years later and think “wow, I was an awesome writer so effortlessly once and now everything I create is gnarled and dissonant.” Ever have that happen? Anyway, really, in five years from now you’ll look at pictures of yourself now and wonder why you were horrified, because you’ll see them more objectively.

    • cheesefairy says:

      “Ever have that happen?” Hahahahahahahahha. Yeah. Like, today.

      Thanks, A..just one of those days when your face doesn’t look like your face, you know?

  2. Megan says:

    I have this weird relationship with makeup and just…falseness, in general.

    One day I think I am glorious in my natural state, and the other I am applying full-on foundation, mascara, BLUSH, eye shadow, and lip gloss to go to the grocery store. I think it’s because I finally (at nearly thirty) know how to apply makeup. For years I couldn’t apply eye shadow without looking like I’d been punched in the eye. I know how to wear makeup so I look like a person with makeup and not a child who has gotten into her mother’s makeup.

    Anyway, I agree with the previous commenter. You are beautiful. I think so whenever I see your pictures. So, rock on with your toenail polish and lip balm. It works for you. 🙂

    • cheesefairy says:

      Ha, seriously..I wasn’t trolling for compliments. But I’ll take ’em, thanks! 🙂

      You should write a blog post about your weird relationship with makeup.

  3. EarnestGirl says:

    I feel torn. On one hand, exactly like you describe. With paler eyelashes. On the other, like an auntie who wants to pat your hand.

    Arwen is right. 5 years from now you will want to give yourself a loving little kick. You are never going to be as perfect or as young as you are right now.
    Remember those circles you thought you saw as a teenager? Compare and contrast with the sleepless ones. I do this with my hips. Then I give myself a loving little kick.

    Buy the lip gloss. A little burgundy indulgence. Forget the powder. It settles in the wrinkles.

  4. I just cleaned out my purse and found four burgundy lipsticks, 3 burgundy lip gloss and 2 clear lip gloss. Why I have an obsession for something I never wear is beyond me. You’re welcome, Cover Girl.

    Also, I’m Irish with glowing white ghost-like skin and even I can’t wear fair. I think fair is put out there to trick you into buying the same product twice.

  5. Joanna says:

    I have two skin tones throughout the year: tanned and pale 🙂 Unfortunately, I ran out of the makeup I wear during the pale part of the year and have had to wear the darker shade … through the winter. Yep! I’ve worn a few high-neck sweaters, but I’ve still got that line where the make-up does not match my natural neck colour. Gotta work on getting a neck tan this year to last until winter; either that or just buy some paler makeup. Go figure!

  6. Megan says:

    I’m working on that post right now, boss. 🙂

  7. Amber says:

    Oh. My. God. I haven’t laughed this hard in WEEKS.

    I gave up on make-up a long time ago, except for like weddings and stuff. So far my ancient mascara hasn’t given my eyelash botulism, but if it does, I guess I can’t say they didn’t warn me.

  8. HEE! I never wear makeup. I never learned how, and since my mother only wore makeup to go out with my dad every six months or so when I was a little kid and had pretty much given it up completely by the time I was in high school, I didn’t feel like I could ask her to teach me. I bought a compact of powder and put some on my face the night I went to prom. I never wore it again after that. I did wear black lipstick every now and then, as you do when you are a gothy skatery 17-year-old in 1998.

    I went through periodic phases in college when I decided I would Learn to Wear Makeup! Like a Grownup! But then I’d always realize after a few hours that I was (A) broke and (B) lazy, so I never got around to it. I didn’t wear any on my wedding day, so I figure I’ve now set my standards at Epic Low for life and can quit worrying about it forever.

  9. mo-wo says:

    I love posts that are retro before they post.

    You have many lip glosses because it will save TIME! Time needs saving!!

    I love this post.