I did not wake up like this
Ploy Kingchatchaval: Week Two
I have a theory. I have a theory that one day soon, in the not-so-distant future, cosmetics companies are going to start all-out advertising make-up the way they do tampons. Discreet! Invisible! Like you’re wearing nothing at all! Concealer and mascara will come in increasingly tiny, inconspicuous packaging, because God forbid anyone realise that your clear skin and long eyelashes come courtesy of a tube every morning and you do not Wake Up Like This, no matter how vehemently Beyoncé insists otherwise.
In a society where make-up is all about spending time looking like you spent no time, about creating an improved version of your face so that no one notices your face, visible make-up is synonymous with vanity, and vanity, as we all know, is bad. Visible make-up means you care about the way you look. Visible make-up means you’re trying too hard, that you’re hiding something. But the other end of the spectrum feels equally as uncomfortable. If you don’t wear make-up, you’re not taking care of yourself. You’re not giving yourself enough credit. If you tried a little harder, you could look so pretty!
Why does it feel like there’s no middle ground when it comes to women and personal appearance? Despite firmly holding the view that make-up is a form of personal expression, a way of boosting self-esteem, a part of my soul still dies a little every time I run into someone I know in the pasta aisle in Sainsbury’s post-Wednesday Cindies and I’ve got an uncovered spot or a greasy nose, and I hate it. Why is the emphasis on how the image a woman projects is perceived, rather than how her image makes her feel about herself?
Every morning, when I wake up, I put on foundation. I conceal any spots, I powder my nose, I fill in my eyebrows. I wear eyeliner. Sometimes I wear lipstick. I used to hate my mouth. Now, I paint it an obnoxiously bright colour, and I own it. I’m taking control of my own face; I’m heightening, rather than obscuring, what I like about myself. We need to stop thinking of make-up as something to hide behind. A play I produced last term referred to make-up as ‘war paint’: as hackneyed as the comparison may be, perhaps it’s not about camouflage, or protection, as it may initially seem. I feel good when I think I look good. Maybe smearing black paint on my eyes is my way of putting myself in the best possible attitude every morning. Maybe applying make-up is a physical extension of my mental preparation to go out and fucking win at something.
If this sounds trivial – ‘mate, this girl’s written 500 words about bloody winged eyeliner’, I hear a thousand-strong chorus of repulsed Tab commenters cry – that’s because make-up, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty trivial. I put various things on my face in the morning, I enjoy doing it, and then I go off and do other things that I enjoy. I’m not throwing cats into wheelie bins (although remember when that happened because w h a t), and I’m not curing cancer. So why are people spending time and energy writing articles passing judgement on Emma Stone faking her freckles? Why are we all so intent on picking apart what people do to their own faces? I’m not telling you to wear make-up, and I’m not telling you not to wear make-up. Who am I to tell anyone how to present themselves? I’m just bored of people having messed-up ideas about freedom in self-representation. Let’s all stop caring so much about how other people choose to look, and focus instead on how our own appearance makes us feel. You do you.