I’m a makeup girl, in a pretty major way.
While I’m not into brands or super high-end makeup, my naked face hasn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. It’s not just that I wear makeup; I wear a lot of it. It’s the thing that takes the longest when I’m getting ready to go anywhere (my hair does itself and I’m not particularly fashion-forward), and I make sure I have it with me in case it gets all jacked up during the day and I have to fix it (which I will, repeatedly). After catching myself in a mirror, I told someone I had been with this weekend that they had a duty to tell me if I started to look like the Hamburglar (the raccoon-eyes phenomenon when your eyeliner abandons ship and starts to work its way down your face). Because clearly, in that moment, he was super-concerned about my face.
There’s a great scene in Torch Song Trilogy (if you haven’t, go, watch, now) where Harvey Fierstein wakes up before his partner and dashes to the bathroom to brush his teeth, shave, put on deodorant, fix his face up a bit. He dives back into bed and pretends to be asleep until his partner’s alarm goes off. That’s me. Why yes, I do just roll out of bed looking like this! And I do smell magnificent first thing in the morning, thankyoufornoticing.
Yesterday, running late and dragging ass from the residual con-fatigue, I grabbed my makeup bag to do it in the car on the way to work. It wasn’t until I got there that I realized I had left my eyeliner(s) on my bathroom sink. I’m annoyed, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I remind myself that I’m probably the only one who would care/notice, and resolve that it will be ok. The only thing I didn’t get to do was eyeliner, so it’s not like I’m totally barefaced. I’m feeling a little off-center, but mostly alright.
The following are all things that were said to me within 20 minutes of clocking in, all from different people:
Are you ok?
Are you getting sick?
How late were you up last night?
Is everything ok? You look like you’re about to cry.
Are you feeling alright?
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.
Seriously. Why is that appropriate? The best part is that the people who said these things were exclusively women. If any of the guys I work with even noticed, they didn’t say anything.
No one should have to justify, even just conversationally, how they look on any given day. Then we all wonder why we struggle with our ideas of self-perception and esteem. And for someone with some social anxiety (like me), it is nothing short of a mortifying experience in which attention is being called to something I was uneasy about to begin with.
This isn’t a blog post about the unrealistic standards and pressure put on women to look perfect at all times by society and the media. It’s a blog post about the unrealistic standards and pressure put on women to look perfect at all times by other women.
Ladies, do me a favor. Back the fuck up off my face. Everyone who said something to me yesterday seemed to do so from a place of genuine concern, but I mean, still. The message that’s being received here isn’t that you care; it’s that I look less-than. Commenting on someone’s appearance is never ok unless it’s a compliment, or specifically requested. If I ask you how my face/hair/ass looks, I want an honest answer. Unless I did that, though, assume I don’t want to hear about it if you don’t think I look as good as I did yesterday.
Even when we’re complimenting each other’s appearance, it’s important to be aware of how things sink in to people. If you tell me that the shirt I’m wearing makes me look skinny, I’ll feel good about it for a minute, but then I’ll wonder if the rest of my shirts make me look fat. Tell me that I’m beautiful, not that I look hot today. The last time someone called me pretty I almost fell down.
The pressure is unnecessary, ladies. We’re doing it to ourselves, and we’re doing it to each other. One day I was in line at the grocery store and the woman in front of me turned around and told me she loved my hair. I was blown away. We’re so prone to tearing each other apart, we forget that we lose nothing when we build each other up.
Do me a favor. Compliment a stranger today. About anything. The next time you’re standing next to someone you don’t know for long enough to think about it, find something about them you like and say it out loud. It can be a tiny, simple thing, but I guarantee you that person will be thinking about it for the rest of the day. If we want to be more joyful, confident people, we need to begin by spreading joy and confidence, and have faith that it will make its way back around to us.