Surprise Regret

Why do some women wear mascara on a daily basis?

That was the question I asked myself numerous times yesterday.

I wore mascara yesterday for only the second time since last October.  (The first time since last October was last month for graduation day.  The last time I wore it before last October was probably the October before.)  I had no special reason to do it; I just thought that as an aspiring young professional trying to make her way into the working world after school, I should get in the habit of wearing at least a little bit of makeup, since apparently, that’s what female professionals do.  I decided that yesterday I would start to get in that habit of wearing makeup on days when I would have to leave the house.

For those of you who don’t know me well, I’ve never been a fan of wearing makeup every day.  Except for dance recitals, I didn’t wear it when I was a kid.  I only started wearing traces of it to school when I was 17, and only once in a while.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve painted my nails in the last 28 years.  I’ve never had any desire to dye, perm, straighten, or highlight my hair.  I’ve never cared about keeping up with current fashion trends or what other people think of my mostly hand-me-down and thrift shop wardrobe.  I almost never wear jewelry.  I wore makeup for a few special occasions, and for dance and skating performances as I got older, but I didn’t want to take the time to wear it on a daily basis.  I’ve gone through short phases of wearing it daily throughout my adult life, only to call it quits because of how inconvenient it is for me put makeup on every morning, especially when the reasons to not mess with it far outweigh the reasons to put it on.

I spent too much time in front of my bathroom mirror yesterday as I tried to trace the outside corners of my delicate eyelids with a razor-thin liquid eyeliner brush.  After waiting a minute or so for the dark brown eyeliner to dry, I brushed only one coat of waterproof mascara on my upper eyelashes.  I used whatever was leftover on my brush to coat my barely-there lower lashes.  Just one coat of that black goop made all of my lashes clump and look fake.  To me, fake is not beautiful.  But makeup, at least a little bit of it, is what many young professionals have to wear just so that they look more, well, professional.  Supposedly, anyway.

I made the necessary adjustments with my eye makeup before I moved on to covering my face with powder foundation to “set” (whatever that means) the liquid concealer that I had dabbed onto my numerous acne scars on my face.  I also colored in my nearly-white eyebrows, just so it looks like I actually have eyebrows.  After applying clear lip gloss to my lips, I decided that I was ready to walk out the door to face (no pun intended) the day’s adventures.

I might have felt ready to tackle the day, but as I stared at my reflection in the mirror, I still couldn’t help but feel fake.  I didn’t look or feel like myself.  I’m not trying to say that anyone who wears makeup isn’t genuine, but me wearing makeup, at least that much of it, is a sharp contrast to my laid back and low maintenance (or lazy, careless, etc.) personality when it comes to fashion and appearances.  Maybe it’s all those years working outdoors part-time where makeup was pointless.  Maybe it’s from working in a blue-collar office environment for nearly eight years, where the dress code was somewhat casual and makeup was definitely optional.  Maybe it’s the numerous dance classes where I didn’t wear eye makeup, because I felt like I would dance better if my sweat didn’t smear my eye makeup and make me look like a hot mess.  Maybe I haven’t completely grown out of my somewhat tomboyish childhood traits.  Maybe it’s because I feel completely free when my face is clean and bare, and my hair is down and loose.  Maybe it’s because I’m finally confident in who I am as a person, and I see nothing to be ashamed of when I look at my bare face in the mirror.

I didn’t ponder these reasons before I left the bathroom.  If I had, I would’ve taken all of my makeup off right then and there (in about two minutes, tops) and saved myself some of the regret that followed later that afternoon.

I drove to Missouri yesterday to visit people.  While visiting with a lovely woman that I’ve missed dearly since graduation, I wished that I wasn’t wearing makeup right then.  I wished that I hadn’t spent so much time in the bathroom trying to conceal, powder, coat, and apply various cosmetic products on various parts of my face, especially when it wasn’t necessary.  I wished I’d only washed my face and run out the door so that I could have spent an extra 20 or so minutes (yes, it takes me that long to put makeup on) with her instead of the bathroom mirror and makeup brushes.  I wished that I had felt more beautiful and more like myself while I was visiting with her (and other people later that day), and that would’ve happened if I hadn’t put all of that makeup on.

I’ve always felt the dread of inconvenience of putting on makeup, but I’d never felt the sting of regret over putting on makeup until yesterday.

To clarify, I don’t like leaving the house looking like a slob.  I always leave the house with a clean face and brushed hair.  I also understand that dressing up for special occasions is sometimes necessary, and depending on the occasion (prom, for example; I loved wearing my floor-length prom dress), it can be fun once in a great while.  I like wearing clean, neat clothes every day, whether I leave the house or not.  But I’m going back to my habit of foregoing makeup unless my acne scars are particularly prominent on some days or if a special occasion requires it.  Even then, I will use only the minimum amount to address any issues I’m having.

Today, I have to run some errands, among other things.

And I’m going to relish this day of not wearing makeup.

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