My mother did not allow makeup on me at all until high school, and then only for dress up occasions. She only ever wore face powder and lipstick, for church or parties. The first time I wore any was for a ballet recital, and I looked like a doll - red circles for cheeks, the whole deal. Felt weird.
I've always had dark circles under my eyes, and short eyelashes, so when I chose makeup, I went for mascara and liner, shadow and concealer, lipstick lasted about ten minutes as I wiped it off immediately, unintentionally. I got my only positive comments from other girls, so I spent my tiny allowance on cosmetics. When I was the prettiest of my life, I felt so ugly I had to wear paint on my face. To cover my horrible dark circles.
As a theater major, I only needed the one makeup class, but I did the full year, and really enjoyed it. This meant my basic inability to do mild makeup turned into complete incompetence, since I only knew how to layer it on, make myself look older, or wear a crepe beard. Spent many an hour that year in front of a mirror, examining my features. The real break through came from seeing the most glamorous actress grad student, a truly stunning woman, always dressed to the nines and made up for a photo-shoot, with a bare face. She looked perfectly ordinary, but more interesting, then. And when I did full on glamour makeup on myself, I looked like her - an image, perfect, but the same as every other model. Well. Huh.
I lost my interest in the stuff, not wanting to try for typical glamour anymore. I would have stopped wearing any at all, but the ex preferred me made-up. And I had a job teaching, excuse me... selling - dance lessons, and the boss expected me in makeup. I continued to put it on, but with growing resentment.
D, of course, got to know me bare faced, as the Army bans soldiers wearing any makeup. When we got back, I put some on to visit his family, and he gently let me know he preferred me plain. Didn't take much convincing, I admit. Aside from a bellydance performance, I've been my own naked face ever since.
I honestly cannot understand the women who feel they "can't" go out, not even to the store, without the mask of makeup. Nothing wrong with masks, as long as it's acknowledged as such. Speaks to a certain lack of confidence in one's own self, though. And for those struggling to pay for rent and groceries, to buy into the cosmetic industry's pervasive advertising, is just dumb. So, why? Why the compulsive element? The sense of MUST, of not having a face, and having to put one one. How self effacing, to feel like a blank canvas without pigments.
Wearing mascara as a decorative exercise, like jewelry or nice clothing, simply for oneself, is a comfort for some. As a hobby, of sorts, sure. But when not wearing it means being ashamed and not fit to walk out the door, or be seen by spouse or family, something is terribly wrong.
And why the mixed message? Men don't have to change the way their faces look. General cleanliness and a shave, and they are good. Women have to "enhance" features, and cover up "flaws" in order to be presentable in public. It's a huge lie that we NEED this crap, and huge corporations are pushing that message. Every TV makeover show, every 'beauty" pageant, every fashion magazine exploits this thoughtless assumption. And here in the US, much of what women put around their eyes, on their faces, is not much regulated. Europe has much higher standards of safety.
It's part of the Cinderella/Princess/Bride story girls are force fed. Pretty as a virtue that brings love and fulfillment, and for that one needs makeup - just to not be hideous and lonely. I have never heard a thoroughly reasoned argument for constant makeup, only a knee-jerk reaction, peer pressure societal expectation. Unchallenged assumption of what is normal.
So, I have to wonder if this is a kind of anxiety disorder, this inability to see one's own face without so much revulsion that it must be covered. To be so worried at what strangers might think if they saw them without it. Or to feel so peered at to necessitate a sort of veil. And I wonder if this is a female trait, to hide one's face behind whatever that society allows, less to attract - although that is often the stated reason - so much as to divert the public gaze.
No, I really don't get it. But it bothers me when women see themselves only as this weird illusion that must be maintained at all costs. So threatened they must always hide.