Why I wear makeup


I am not immune to the way society projects itself through the media and tries to dictate the way that we act and regard ourselves. I’ve witnessed both ends of the spectrum of body image and more specifically, makeup.

I’ve seen ads that push products onto you, claiming to help hide your flaws and accentuate your delectable features. Meanwhile, I’ve observed social campaigns criticizing exactly what the ads previously mentioned advocated, arguing that individuals ought to love their bodies and faces just the way that they are, and that perfection is unattainable and a mere social construct.

As a high school student growing up in the twenty-first century, it’s beyond interesting to sit by and watch as people react and overreact to the ripples in the water; new theories are introduced and articles are published about the way that we view our bodies.

Today, I discuss makeup, and the way my perception of it has changed over the years.

In elementary school, I didn’t touch the stuff. I had no interest in looking pretty to impress others and I was completely content with the way I looked. Of course, this came at a time when I could eat anything I wanted and didn’t have my body react to it at all. I also exercised regularly and my skin was perfection.

In junior high, I noticed that my peers started getting prettier. It’s true that some people just grew out their hair or got their braces removed, but it was also evident in the way that people with red splotches suddenly came back to school with calm, even skin. I saw many vie for perfection in the form of tan skin, darkly-rimmed eyes, long lashes, and flat-ironed hair. It was intriguing, to say the least.

I saw hair-curlers and powder compacts in the girls’ bathrooms and wondered what these foreign items were. What contraption did they bring close to their eyelashes so that their eyes popped?

Slowly I started to open myself up to the possibility that I could make myself look better than I did, through creams and curlers and thin black lines drawn above my eyes. This came at a time when my skin started misbehaving and I felt more self-conscious about my outward appearance.

My wonder and fascination was cut short, however, when I tried out mascara for the first time at a sleepover and consequently got an eye infection. That occurrence staved off my interest in makeup for a few years more.

But my surrounding individuals kept nagging, refining their faces over the years so that their makeup appeared more carefully applied. At the start of high school, when at last I felt that I was falling behind the curve, I started wearing makeup.

In the beginning, it was just eyeliner and mascara. But then I started watching makeup videos on Youtube and I saw them hide their dark eye circles with concealer. So I bought that.

Then I saw them transform their complexion into smooth even canvas with foundation, so I bought that, using prom as an excuse to wear it for a special occasion. I liked the way it did indeed smooth out my face, so I started wearing it more often.

What I experienced, however, was that wearing makeup incentivized me to cut corners in other areas of my life. I didn’t feel the need to go to sleep as early if makeup could cover it up.

There’s also an accompanying need to continually add more; it seems as though you can always improve your face with a little dab of this, a brush of that. But in the end, you just end up with a caked-up face and the start of premature wrinkles. Your makeup routine will only get more complicated, extensive, and lengthy if you fall prey to this notion that there is some physical miracle in the form of a spray or a powder that can make you feel good in your own skin.

I don’t know why I watch makeup videos on Youtube. As much as I respect them, the “beauty gurus” there wear far more than I ever will, and waste so much money on products that I feel capture them in some sort of vicious circle.

My mom’s always been against wearing too much makeup, but she’s differed with me about how much is too much.

Recently, however, I’ve started to come around to see her side. I’ve scaled back my makeup and instead started to treat my skin from the “roots,” aka treating things like acne and uneven skin through skincare and what I put in and on my body. Ya feel?

I’m concerned about how I might wear makeup when I’m in my 20’s if I continue wearing as much as I had in my later high school years. Everyone’s experience is different, as we all have different faces and skin-types, but at the end of the day, whatever you regard as “extensive makeup” is reserved for special occasions.

Now, I omit foundation or concealer from my morning routine. At most, I’ll wear a bit of eyeliner and mascara, like I did when I first started, and perhaps just a little color on my lips.

I feel comfortable with how I look now because I realize that everyone in high school, college, and beyond suffers with skin problems. It’s the cycle of life; our hormones are constantly toying with our complexions.

There are many people in your life that will very obviously put on a full face of makeup to school every day. But there are also those that don’t and look like a million, freaking beautiful, natural dollars.

If so many go bare-faced to school every day and still look great to me, then what does that mean?

Is it makeup that makes people beautiful, or is it the confidence with which they carry themselves? No one looks for physical characteristics with which they deem you unworthy of their time. They don’t freak out over your pimple like you do, because in their eyes, it’s just a tiny pinprick.

We’ve grown up looking through a warped lens under which our body and skin types are specimens manipulated into making ourselves feel infinitely less worthy than we truly are.

Will people judge you negatively for being a normal teenager?



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  4. Al

    Well said! I’m glad you decided to cut back on the make up :) Natural beauty is still the best, to me at least. I dislike the feeling of having make up on my face and the last time I had a full face of make up was 3 years ago during secondary school prom! (High school prom, in the american context) Now I’m in university, but I still don’t feel the need to put on make up to school. Not sure if I’m just lazy or can’t be bothered to. But I guess I don’t see the need to look pretty or “flawless” when I can just be myself. :)


  5. Olivia (@livlivinglife)

    This is beautifully said. I rarely wore makeup until I was a sophomore in college–now I wear some daily, but because I like it, not because I feel pressured to. What you said at the end is so true: I rarely notice when my friends do or don’t wear makeup, because it’s about the person they are, not if they’re having a breakout or if their eyelashes look great that day. Women tend to put too much pressure on themselves for no good reason!


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