The Power of Makeup

Yesterday at work, one of my colleagues got a last minute request from a media outlet for a photo shoot with a student (I work at a school). Being school holidays, it was going to be a challenge to find an available and willing student. After several phone calls with no luck, the office collectively turned to me: “Mel, we can put you in a school uniform – no one would tell!” There was a chorus of laughter, of which I joined. I’ve heard the joke plenty of times over the years.

And that’s I why I wear makeup all the time. I look like a child, even with makeup on. I’m approaching 30 years of age– so it’s not a good look for me to be without makeup, especially at work or when I’m going out at night. It also doesn’t help that even at my age, I still get acne. Although it’s not too bad, it’s still embarrassing. Clearly The Pill isn’t doing the best job in the face department. (The only time my skin was perfect on The Pill was when I was on Yazmin – until research found it to be a major cause of blood clots among other issues. So that put an end to that perfect yet dangerous relationship).

It’s only been in the last 18 months or so where questions for my ID have lessened. It used to be all the time. All the goddamn time. I couldn’t walk into a bottle shop without getting asked by staff why I was there, and even with younger friends at a bar, I’d be the one asked for ID and not them. An occasion that stands out was when I was buying a tote bag (or something like that) from a store, and the sales assistant told me that, “it’d be great for school” – I was 23, so at best she thought I was 17. Clearly makeup didn’t make a difference on these occasions, but I felt it always helped in a small way, and it certainly made me feel like a grown up. And please trust me when I say, it is absolutely not a compliment to get asked for ID in your 20s, and I wish people would stop telling me it is, “Oh, you’re lucky. Just wait until you’re 40 and you’re still getting asked for ID”. That’s great, but I’m not 40 so please stop talking.

Top left: Fresh from the shower, no make up Bottom left: My own make up (at a wedding) Right: Professional make up (at a wedding)
Top left: Fresh from the shower, no make up – July 2015
Bottom left: My own make up (at a wedding) – October 2014
Right: Professional make up (at a wedding) – May 2015

I’ve only now started relaxing how much make up I wear during the day when I’m not at work. It will include concealer, powder, eyebrow pencil (I hacked at them in high school, and they’ve never recovered, they’re so wispy thin and pale) mascara, blush and lip balm. A full face will be all of that, with the addition of liquid foundation, primer, eye shadow and eye liner (although I use eye shadow for that – I’ve never mastered the art of eye liner pencil or liquid) and lipstick. Red is my favourite! Since I was around 20, the only extended period that I can recall that I didn’t wear makeup, was a three week volunteer trip in Vietnam in 2011. I wore make up once and it was on the last day at a presentation ceremony at the school we helped refurbish. It would have been ridiculous to wear makeup on the Mekong Delta in 30 degree monsoon season, but it was a relief to be able to wear it after three weeks, and have genuine reason to.

I actually hate doing my makeup, mainly because I’m not very good at it and I’ve never learnt how do it “properly”. And its 10 minutes I could be spending doing something else, like sleeping or eating. So I’ve never been the girl to go to bed with makeup on, or leave on makeup or wake up early to put it on at a sleep over (with girlfriends or a boy), or wear it hanging out at home with family or close, long-term friends, or wear it to yoga – but I generally feel pretty uncomfortable without it. It’s not like I have an extensive makeup collection either. With the exception of my Clarins primer and concealer, I use Revlon – hardly high-end products and everything fits into one makeup bag which also includes all my lipsticks and I have about 15 of those. And much to the horror of my beauty blogger friend Tenneil (Like Neon Love), I only have one makeup brush!

My Mimco makeup bag
My Mimco makeup bag

I was inspired to write this post after watching this YouTube clip by beauty blogger Em Ford:

Thankfully, I’ve never been cruelly bullied that way Em has been – with or without make up. And I admire Em’s bravery in sharing her experience, of which I hope doesn’t happen to her anymore. But the video hit a nerve. I would love to be able to not wear make up as much as I do – but until my skin clears up and I actually start looking my age one day, it won’t be happening any time soon.



2 thoughts on “The Power of Makeup

  1. This was such a joy to read, Mel! As you know, to say I love makeup is an understatement and it bothers me that it has connotations towards women being superficial and feeling insecure or unhappy within themselves when in fact, it’s probably the opposite! We all have our different ways of feeling confident. Wearing makeup is something we do for ourselves, not for boys or anyone else. It’s fun, it makes me feel feminine and it boosts my self-esteem.

    Having said that, I can happily go out without wearing makeup and not really care. I don’t tend to wear anything when I’m just at home or running errands and it feels so nice to give my skin a break and be able to go to bed knowing I don’t have to take my makeup off that night! I used to suffer from really bad acne, which affected my self-esteem a lot, but The Pill totally changed that for me (I’m on Brenda, which my doctor tells me is fine) and I definitely have more makeup free days now. That’s not the case for everyone though and I definitely don’t judge. It’s not easy feeling happy and beautiful in your own skin.

    Don’t even get me started on the age thing! I got asked for ID at the bar during your birthday night, meanwhile everyone else got their drinks easily. The bartender looked shocked when she saw I was born in 1988! I feel like being told, “You’ll look 20 when you’re 40” is such a stupid cliche and a bit of a backhanded compliment. I suppose I’d rather look younger than older, but it doesn’t make me feel good about myself! I’m just SO sick of hearing how young I look!

    I think your makeup always looks beautiful, by the way! You have such lovely porcelain skin! You have what is called a normal makeup collection and I am a freak, haha. I guess it’s my main hobby though and I can’t imagine going back to using my fingers to apply makeup! Nobody needs as many makeup brushes as I do, but I got super into collecting them at one point and I’ve definitely eased up… a bit!

    At the end of the day, we all wear makeup for heaps of different reasons, but it doesn’t mean our intelligence is diminished, we’re vain or that we’re giving into consumerism and advertisers are making money through our insecurities. We’re so much more than what we choose to wear on our faces. There’s definitely a power in makeup and it even makes us feel powerful! It’s awesome.

    1. I completely agree Tenneil – I certainly don’t wear make up for boys, I wear it because I feel comfortable and more confident doing so.
      Needing and wanting are different – makeup is your hobby, which is so great! And I do need to invest in another makeup brush. I definitely get inspiration from your collection and blog. But thank you for your compliments all the same!!

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