Saturday, January 20, 2007

Absence of Fear

My new friend, Mollie wrote a post the other day about wearing make-up and I guess it got me to thinking. Like her, I rarely leave the house without painting my face to some extent. I'm not sure where I got it from, probably my mother, who, from what I can remember, never went for very long "without her face on". I remember sitting in the bathroom with my mom, watching her draw out her eyes in cat-like fashion with jet black, liquid eye liner. I remember getting excited at Halloween knowing that I too would get to wear that coveted eyeliner (so cold and slimy feeling when applied, by the way) and feel all grown up. I think that is where my love of Halloween comes from. The opportunity to wear lots of make up (including false eyelashes of course!) and not be mistaken for a street walker has always been fun for me. But back to subject, I learned somewhere over the course of growing up that one should always be "presentable" when leaving the house.

I find it somewhat amusing that Mollie's mother related having pride with wearing make up. I mean, my thinking is that if you had pride in your appearance, you wouldn't need it. Covering up what God gave you certainly doesn't show how proud you are of it. Then again, wearing make up is the equivalent to some of being put together, or "dressed" as it were and is a natural part of making oneself ready to face the world.

I remember some years ago sitting in a restaurant with a dear friend, trying to explain why I wore make up every day. She was going through a divorce at the time, was very depressed and her self-esteem was in the toilet. As I was explaining myself, I remember thinking about what I was saying. I was rambling on about how I didn't care about what other people thought of me and I wore make up for myself to make myself feel better, but other people's approval was what made me feel good....even though I didn't care what they see where this is going awry! The whole time in my head I am screaming at myself to shut up because I was not making any sense and she wasn't buying it anyway - it was a strange conversation to say the least.

But what I feel now is that I need to put myself out there in the best way I can, so I am the most comfortable. I am terribly socially awkward and if I am self conscious about any little thing, be it my clothes or that big zit on my face, I will try to crawl back into my own skin to get out of social interaction. By putting on my "face" before I go out, I ensure at least some comfort that people are not focusing on my flaws.

Of course, there is a wide and varied scale to this - It is very rare that I "fix" my hair. But that is an entirely different subject. My hair is so fine and straight that fixing it often requires a full scale arsenal of products and tools, and the result, though pretty at first, rarely lasts until I get to my destination. Also, I kind of like how my hair looks "Au natural" and therefore don't put too much into it on a daily basis. I do, however, know women that spend hours a day in the powder room fixing and putting themselves together with make up and hair do's, and always look beautiful and their very best. That is great for them, I guess I just don't have that kind of patience or energy. Also, I wear jeans almost every day (*ahem*, every day that I get out of my pajamas). Consider yourself lucky if you've seen me in anything else!

It took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin. And now that I am getting older, that skin is starting to look it and I am suddenly faced with discomfort about it again. The self portrait series I am doing has been quite the eye opener (no pun intended). The camera sees far more than I do when I look in the mirror. All I can say is thank goodness for photoshop! ;) Unfortunately, carrying around an 8x10 print of my photoshopped face in portrait is not generally accepted in society - see, this is how I really look! No, really.

I am not sure this post made any more sense than the conversation I had with my friend that day log ago. It is hard to explain why we do things. Motivation is a strange and varied animal. I guess we all want to put our best foot forward, but because every one's expectation of what is the "best foot" is so different, we somehow get lost in our own interpretation. And, throughout the years society changes it's opinion. The region and area in which one lives makes a difference as well. It truly can be confusing. I guess I just do what makes me the most comfortable, and if someone has a problem with it they can say something to me or talk about me behind my back. Either way, in most circumstances, I really wouldn't care. I can only be me.

D :)


Carrie said...

Ditto :)
I DO understand what you're saying. Lily has found many of my new gray hairs and she's trying to decide if they're gray or white! It's hard to find that place where you're comfortable being you. I am hoping to find that place sometime in this decade.My 77 year old grandmother has finally found that herself, so I suppose it may be a lifelong struggle. I love your self portraits. They are beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Make-up should not cover up flaws so much as enhance beauty. Women who 'hide' behind their make-up are typically unsuccessful at hiding anything, but rather draw attention to their flaws.

Wearing make-up also goes a bit deaper than appearance. When you put on make-up just for me, I don't appreciate it for how it makes you look as much as I appreciate the gesture... I feel special :-)

I think this carries into our society to some extent as well; we are offended when men don't remove their caps at a restaurant, people wear shorts at church, etc. Also the same reason you wear a suit to a job interview... a simple gesture or symbol of respect toward others.

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