Social Media is great for sharing quick thoughts and snapshots of life, but for folks like me who tend to ponder everything and look at all the different angles of any given topic, it is hard to express ourselves in those quick, broadly-brushed media bites. I often feel so much more should have been said. Thankfully, I have this blog where I can further flesh out my thoughts on a recent Facebook post I made about make up.
While this post is addressed to ladies, it readily applies smoothly across the board like a good foundation to men and women alike. We will take a look at make up that goes deeper than skin level. A Facebook friend remarked how she was shocked at her increasing willingness to go out in public without applying make up. I replied that as we age, we realize that make up has a decreasingly desired effect, so we decide it is just not worth it! I was reminded of a saying that I learned from a friend many years ago:
“Even an old barn looks better with a coat of paint.”
I was young back then, in full war paint, and so I quickly agreed, adding the funny little adage to my repertoire. I am not anti-make up now by any means. It is just as the poster on Facebook acknowledged–you just sort of drift away from it being so important.
My drift from make up began during my stint of cancer treatment a couple years ago. Before I started radiation, I was instructed to to through some preliminary steps. One of which required me to be fitted with a mesh mask, shaped to fit my face. I would be wearing this mask each radiation session. It helped to keep my face still and line up the targeted areas slated for treatment each time. I understood this, but no one told me that in this initial step, they would be laying this wet mesh over my face to shape it to the contours. Then I would be required to lie perfectly still with it snugly holding my head in place for THIRTY minutes for the CT scans!! Epiphany came as I realized now why they kept asking if I were claustrophobic–I was after that day.
Panicked, I began to think of my options. No one was in the room to hear me scream for help had I been capable of doing so. My mouth was smashed tightly closed with the mesh. I was totally alone on the torture table, my head strapped tight with the mesh mask across my face. My hands were lassoed around the wrists and pulled tightly down towards my feet so that my shoulders were out of the area to be scanned. The amount of tension stopped just short of dislocation of joints. My legs were strapped to the table as well. I could not move. I could moan, but that as about all. But I did have one other option. Prayer.
As I began to pray, a peace drifted over me like a quiet winter snowfall, so soft and enveloping, that I almost fell asleep. It was incredible. At least until they released me from the torture chamber and I went to the bathroom to change back into my clothes. I looked into the mirror and was horrified at the vision looking back at me–raccoon eyes!! Raccoon eyes are adorable on the furry creatures–but not on women’s faces. My mascara had run and smeared all down my face! I tried in vain to remove as much waterproof mascara as possible before leaving. I also had a nice swath of graph lines from the mesh mask imprinted all across my forehead, cheeks and chin to compliment my new look. Lesson learned, that was the last time I wore mascara that summer as I went to treatments. And by then, I was out of the habit.
I really like wearing mascara, but the thought of what it may be doing to my eyes with those chemical ingredients, not to mention the chemicals it takes to get it off. I tried using regular and ‘natural’ brands, but they gave me raccoon eyes as well with no help from a mask. (Men, if you don’t know what I mean by raccoon eyes, I know you guys are ‘visual’, so pause for a moment and look at this picture of a raccoon so you will know what I mean. Raccoon eyes)
After kicking the habit of mascara, the other players in my beauty regimen followed suit. Eye shadow seemed pointless without mascara. I’m outdoors a lot in the summer and even with an ample hat, I still get a bit of a tan, so that is my make up most of the year.
I sometimes do apply a little make up when going out, but not like I used to and with as much fervor. Gone are the days of rushing to the bathroom to slap on make up when an unexpected visitor arrives. You’d think I was naked or something. I have even apologized for not having my make up on! Am I the Phantom of the Opera? Was the thin mask from my tube of foundation what kept them from being permanently scarred should they have the misfortune to glimpse my hideous face without its cloak?
So why do we ladies feel compelled to wear make up in the first place? Is it our culture? A rite of passage into womanhood? A desire to be desirable? A need to conceal our flaws, real or perceived? Why the huge amounts of time and money spent upon something, that if you think about–is superficial?
Why can’t our culture be about developing inward beauty? Suppose instead the rite of passage into womanhood be about gaining confidence, achieving self-reliance, patience, compassion, nurturing, how to change a tire, and other noble pursuits? Rather than magazines targeting young girls with beauty tips, why not entrepreneurial, business, home management, parenting, and relationship skills? Our money and time would be so much better spent.
When he was younger, my son and I had some conversations about girls using make up. He felt it was deceptive for girls to wear make up and that it wasn’t fair that guys don’t get to enhance themselves and are thus at a disadvantage. My response was that I did not see it as deceptive. To me, it is used only to enhance features. Make up really does not cover up that much–most of the time. I admit I have seen grossly over-done make up. Make up should be used with a light hand resulting in a finish in which you see the person, and not the make up.
As for the guys, well, I wouldn’t be surprised if make up for men is soon in vogue. My son can practice deception just like the ladies have for centuries. Guys are not left out, anyway. You may not wear make up, (yet) but you aren’t without a few tools in your bag–wearing clean clothes, smelling nice, clean, combed hair, working out to look fit, and a nice vehicle can be helpful, too. Within proper balance these things are benign. Dressing and smelling nice shows the other person you care enough to not offend them with smell or dirty, sloppy clothing. A nice vehicle should show that you are a responsible person who has a job and the ability to purchase a vehicle and take care of it as well. New sports cars given to teenagers only shows you are spoiled…but that’s another post.
Sometimes, the outer accoutrements become our goal and a fake facade to the world. More and more money gets spent on outward appearances. Cosmetics, skin care, cosmetic surgery, and now tattoos and piercings have become popular. I don’t get it, but understand others really like them. I don’t want them, but don’t let that stop you from going for it. Just know that they are more permanent than water-proof mascara. Maybe.
I have met some persons with whom I came away with a distinct feeling they are hiding behind those tattoos and piercings or make up. They want the world’s eyes to stop at their outer shell, which they have fancifully decorated like a locked front door. In the window of their eyes, I see their lonely soul shifting about inside, afraid to open the door and allow others to enter. They hide fearfully behind the false facade, faithfully redecorating for each season. It is clear this isn’t a healthy use of body ‘enhancement’.
Cosmetics have been around in all cultures for thousands of years. The styles have changed and cultures’ views of it as well. The reasons for using make up have changed as have the ingredients. If you have the time, it is an interesting look into our collective past to read about the history of cosmetics. Today they no longer include such harmful ingredients as lead and arsenic, but may still not be the most healthful thing to apply to our bodies daily. We must use caution in what we ingest and also what we apply to our skin as it is our largest organ and can absorb harmful substances.
What make up are you using and how are you applying? Are you merely giving a ‘coat of paint to the old barn’ in order to preserve and freshen it? Or are you applying a disguise to hide who you really are? Have others in your life confined you with a face mask that constrains and constricts you? Are you attempting to stop others at your ‘front door’? Or do you wish to create a warm and friendly entryway into your heart? Perhaps you are using make up to cover outward flaws because you can do something about them and it offsets your inadequacy to conceal inward flaws? Beauty is only skin deep, we are told. But that is not true. Real beauty goes as deep as the soul. That can’t be packaged and sold.
As a side note, I challenge you to keep an eye out for photographs and paintings of barns. Which do you see photographed or painted the most? Brand new barns with fresh paint? Or the graying, dilapidated old barn with character? I rest my case…
After writing this post, I saw a video about these folks who are recreating make up from by gone days. Check it out: Besame Cosmetics