Why I Love Makeup

Disclaimer: this post is different from my other posts. This post is going to be wordy and introspective and kind of a personal “blog” type post, but it’s something that’s been on my mind lately and I wanted to sort of try to make these thoughts and feelings into something cohesive.

I was a tomboy growing up. I dressed in skater boy clothes with chains on my baggy pants and cut my hair short. I rejected my femininity and things generally considered feminine entirely until middle school. Even then, I wore mostly band t-shirts that were a few sizes too big on me to hide my figure which I grew increasingly uncomfortable with as I went through puberty. I had no problem identifying as female, but I had a problem identifying as feminine.

Fast forward to the year 2017. I have a desk with a large mirror that is covered with makeup, skincare, nail files, hair accessories, and books about makeup and beauty. My iPhone is pink. I burn scented candles, take long baths with bath bombs, and Instagram selfies slightly too often. I ooze femininity. And although it brings me joy, I occasionally feel my love for “girly” things is at odds with who I am and how I try to present myself to the world.

I majored in neuroscience in college. I now work in a research lab in one of the world’s premier scientific institutions. I intend to enroll in a PhD program in the next few years. My friends, classmates, professors, and family have always known me as ambitious, motivated, smart, and unafraid to speak my mind and express my thoughts eloquently and persuasively. I am almost 23, and I still have no desire to have a family of my own. Weddings do not interest me, and neither does raising children. I still feel at my very core that I am rejecting that which is considered feminine by doing all this. I am upset that these life decisions and my personal traits feel gendered. I dislike that my hobbies, my craft gets taken less seriously than my work. I often wonder why that is, why I feel that way, and how I can stop feeling that way.

People often react to me telling them that I studied neuroscience or that I work in a lab in a very surprised way. They are impressed, but I guess they did not expect that from me. I have had multiple people tell me that I do not seem like “the type,” by which I expect they mean I do not look like their scientist archetype (read: masculine).  It seems that my desire to embrace makeup as a form of self-expression is somehow contradictory to my love of  science and education. That used to bother me, and I would actively try to make myself seem less “girly” in order to get more respect from other people. I noticed that when I looked more like their image of a “smart person”, I was questioned less, respected more immediately, and treated more as an equal. When I dared to wear eyeshadow at the same time that I dared to carry an Organic Chemistry textbook, people were confused and I had to work to earn equal footing.

In the last 1-2 years, I became more and more interested in makeup. My family is from a conservative, Catholic European country, and so I have very limited ways in which I am allowed to express my individuality. Ever since I was young I wanted to dye my hair blue, cover my body in tattoos, and just do whatever I could to stand out. I pierced my nose 5 years ago, and it is still a very contentious thing in my family that my mother has not yet fully come to terms with. When I started wearing makeup, I realized I could project how I felt on the inside to the outside, much like a painter who would paint a picture that represented how they were feeling. I watched YouTube videos of people doing their makeup, and I was mesmerized. I loved how they could look sweet one day, edgy the next.

I started buying makeup and trying to create looks, and I was amazed at how hard it was. I assumed it would be easy; after all, any dumb girl could do it, right? I was ashamed with myself at my assumptions, and that was when I began to question why things that are traditionally feminine are associated with stupidity, ease, and triviality. Makeup, it turns out, was an exercise in feminism for me, one that I still occasionally grapple with.

I started this blog as a way for me to explore my makeup passion and connect with other like-minded people. On here and on other platforms, I have found a diverse group of people from all walks of life, all genders (or no particular genders), all colors, shapes, sizes. All of these people are passionate about their craft (makeup), and put real creative energy behind each look. And yet, when I encounter people in the real world, they wonder why I look so done up to just go to a bar or they seem surprised when they realize I am a person of substance. I have made it a personal mission to not let that deter me from expressing myself and showing everyone that their assumptions based on outdated,  gendered stereotypes are wrong. I will not be made to feel bad or lesser because of what I enjoy and what makes me happy. I am also on a mission of self-discovery, to truly embrace what I love and reconcile that with my long-standing image of myself, to update and expand the boxes I put myself and others in, and to realize that all people are made of beautiful multitudes of traits that overlap and conflict all at the same time.

If you read to the bottom of this, thank you. I promise I’ll get back to posting reviews, looks, and other much shorter posts ASAP.

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