I put on makeup today. It’s been just over a week. Maybe it’s not a big deal, but I suppose this symbolises how hard I’m trying to help myself. Oh my god, if only I could not wash, lay in bed and forget there’s an outside world. Today I’m acknowledging there’s a world – hi world, how are you today?
For me I’ve always had a strange relationship with makeup. It generally corresponds with how healthy I am mentally but is always contradicting itself. From feeling awful so not wearing any, to feeling so good about myself so I refuse to wear any. Then feeling awful so I wear loads, or feeling great so I’ve put loads on. This time I’m trying to feel good, trying to look after myself. It must be a universal things that mental health and makeup are interlinked. Oh the irony that something as ugly as depression goes hand in hand with beauty.
When I look back without diving too deep into the past I’ve reached this stage in five phases.
I started wearing makeup as a teenager. Later than others for sure, I’ve spent most of my life being ignorant to what ‘we are expected to do as women’, then when the time came I didn’t know how to put it on. YouTube wasn’t around or wasn’t as huge as it is now, so no tutorials, no tips, just a girl thinking I should probably start doing this now. My mum didn’t wear any so it was guess work and although at the time I thought I was doing a good job I definitely wasn’t. Do you ever look back at things and just feel dread? Yeah, I have no idea what my face looked like. I suppose I got a little bit better at some point. I hope. For my teenage self.
When I moved to Malta at aged 20 I stopped wearing makeup because it was too hot and uncomfortable. I think I wore eye liner and mascara if I went out out, but I basically stopped and it wasn’t anything bigger than that. A year later I moved back and when I started work and socialising with my old friends I started wearing it again. I’m completely unaware of how I wore it, I can’t remember putting foundation on. Maybe I wore very little. If only my memory wasn’t so bad, it’ll make story time so much easier.
2013 shit got real and I got really mentally ill. I had a lot of time off work and had to reboot myself. I’m sure I’ve read before that when you have a breakdown something actually breaks in your mind, so it’s natural to go back to a childlike state. So no make up for months. Something else happened which was very strange, and I assume it correlates with going back to a childlike state, but because my body and mind was learning things all over again I was having revelations every day. I forgot how to socialise and so I would ramble these new revelations at whoever would listen – one of them being about make up. I was disgusted that I had to cover up to be socially accepted, and it’s not accepted for men to do it etc. You get the idea. There were many rants about gender and society.
In the same year, still off work and still very unwell, I discovered beauty gurus on YouTube and I finally understood that make up can be about yourself and it’s an art form. There are people out there that wear it for others, to fit in, but there’s also many women and men that wear it for themselves. This blew my mind. I felt like something unlocked in my brain because I honestly hadn’t thought about it like that. I had only worn it so far to look normal, to be very honest with myself.
So I started experimenting, copying tutorials. Very badly done and even now I have no skills, but I enjoyed it. When I had days where I struggled to get out of bed or go outside because my anxiety was awful, I would spend an hour or two putting on make up, and it helped me. It calmed me, it got me out.
I still was out of my mind, I almost had to tell myself things for it to be ‘okay’ and that I’m not giving into social standards. I still don’t know the truth, but I would tell myself that the female sex does scientifically enjoy feminine things, therefore my natural body does want this, I’m not doing it for others. Why was I enjoying it when I was so opposed to it?! Gahhh melt down!
I also experimented with the idea that it’s a mask. Like I said, I was aware people wear it to fit in or they wear it for themselves, and so I started doing it for myself so people wouldn’t know what my mind was really like. The amount of times, even now, people say ‘oh wow, you don’t look like you have anxiety and depression’. This mask of makeup covered it up, literally. I’m not saying I would suppress my mental illness, just that to deal with it in public or around people I don’t want to open up to, I would cover up. I couldn’t feel social anxiety as bad when my make up makes me look like every other girl, and that I’m ‘well’. I wore it so I could live.
I started to wear all the time when these revelations dyed down which, for me, meant I was self conscious of who I actually was. There’s a fine line you have to balance along – but maybe only if you’re battling with mental health issues. If I have a time period of being wrapped up in ‘fake things’, I end up drowning in social norms, but forgetting I don’t breath on reality TV or appearances – I end up wearing make up everyday to keep up the act. ‘I am normal I am normal’
I was also single at this time so was I wearing it to entice? Entice sounds like a horrible word, makes my skins crawl.
Finally I’ve reached the steady stage now where I feel like I’m in a healthy place where I don’t have to ‘impress’ or ‘fit in’. I still mask myself if I need to, so at work definitely, but I also wear it because it makes me feel good. I feel like I have a little more control on the contradicting needs I have – the need to hide, the need to be myself, the need to be part of society, the need to reject anything to do with the norm. I suppose I’ve managed to normalise make up. (No doubt there will be more ups and downs though)
I like myself, sure there will always be insecurities but I like who I am and if I have to wear make up to embrace the world that day I have to welcome it – with a shimmering eye shadow and all.