Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some Brief Thoughts On Makeup

I have been going through a mildly pro-makeup phase, recently. Wearing lipstick, buying perfume, the occasional mascara experiment.

This is not, despite my stated goal of dressing neutrally, the first time this has happened. Every now and then I get this image in my head: some cream eyeshadow, a brick red lipstick, something that strikes me as tremendously appealing which I go out and purchase and play with.

Usually I give it up after a couple of weeks.

The main reason I usually wind up giving up is a feeling of self-consciousness about the whole experiment. I get overwhelmed by the sense that I am saying to the world: I look better this way. I smell better this way. I think this is a good thing to do. And I imagine a phalanx of people looking at me, shaking their heads, saying to themselves, "Is she out of her mind?"

If your clothes don't, at least on the surface, seem to be striving for anything, nobody can ever confront you with your failures.

It seems even harder, or more intimidating, to strive for femininity; I feel like I'm on the brink of exposure as a fraud.

(Written down it seems neurotic.)

You can avoid this fear, and sometimes I have, by making your clothes a deliberate provocation. You wear the brightest lipstick. You wear a hat. You wear elaborate jewelry. You tell the world that this is a light-hearted game, that you are in on the joke.

I am still not entirely sure what drives me into my pro-makeup moods in the first place. Another unknowable impulse.


Noko Marie said...

There's another alternative too: I do this for real but not because I want to look attractive, but rather because I want to look the way I want to look.

I used to wear tons and tons of makeup. Now I wear some but less. I'd like to wear more but I'm lazier and busier than I was when I was young. I went through a phase a few years ago where I wore nail polish all the time but my nails got all weird and yellow and disgusting underneath. So I stopped.

But you know, I was just thinking this morning how generally benign makeup is compared to other beauty regimens like waxing and botox. It's pretty easy; it's pretty affordable; it's not a committment.

hithere said...

maybe it's just fun -- but it's fun when it's fun, if you know what I mean, not because it's obligatory. My mother did something called "putting on her face," which as a child of the 60s I thought really, really weird as a concept. But messing around with eye shadow, etc. is fun. Halloween, sort of, without candy and knocking on doors.

Captain Colossal said...

It totally does have that Halloween concept, and I love that.

I have a harder time wrapping my head around the notion that I get to decide the way I want to look, that if I like the way I look with a lot of black eyeliner that's good enough. In retrospect, I can always see that that's true, but at the time I get all nervous, all really? I'm allowed? Also have trouble with the idea that I'm allowed to embrace the black eyeliner at some points and eschew it at others.

Nail polish is kind of the worst in terms of maintenance and what it does to your nails and supplies needed on hand.