Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bare-Faced Cheek

Part of my re-evaluation of myself, my style, and my lifestyle was taking a good, long look at how and why I was choosing to present myself in a certain way. Those of you who followed me on Stripy Tights... may remember that I was beginning to question my choice to wear make-up - a lot of make-up - every day (Is Make-Up A Mask?).

I soon came to realise that I felt I had to wear make-up. It may have started out as a choice, a positive, fun way of expressing myself visually, but after caking myself in product day after day for several years, it had become something I relied upon to feel attractive. Not only that, but I felt I had to keep putting on more and more if I wanted to upgrade from 'socially acceptable' to 'pretty'.
After this realisation, I came to hate the fact that I felt I had to cover myself in make-up each morning just to leave the house, just to be found acceptable by strangers. Frankly, the concept of 'pretty' is something that seems to me to be a bit overrated - why should we have to apologise for our differences and cover up the flaws and features that make us imperfect, perfectly natural human beings?

Don't get me wrong, I like looking 'nice' as much as anyone, but I don't want to be brainwashed into believing that it is necessary for me to conform to a standard of 'beauty' just to be able to show my face. After all, even the models in the advertisements that sell us our favourite products aren't as flawless as the finalised, airbrushed, Photoshopped images that we are shown.

I spent a good month during my time away from blogging living entirely make-up free. At first I felt horrendously self-consious and embarrassed, especially at work in a customer-facing role, but after a few weeks I began to relax and feel comfortable with my naked face. I stopped feeling that looking 'pretty' was so overwhelmingly important; with the right products, or enough of them, I could transform my face into a Barbie doll clone - or I could come to terms with my actual looks and stop buying into the concept of perfection and the industry that teaches people that they, themselves, are not good enough as they are.
Bare-faced cheek!
And that was the final realisation that I came to. No matter what we look like, whether by society's standards we are 'pretty' or 'ugly', we are all beautiful. We are products of nature, and just as you never see an 'ugly' sunset or an 'ugly' lion (yes, I know you are all going to spam me with images of ugly lions now... but never mind, hopefully you're following my train of thought here), how can you have an 'ugly' person?

I am choosing, personally, to disregard the concept of 'pretty' and instead just have fun with make-up - when, and if, I feel like wearing it - instead of using it to create an image of what the advertising industry wants me to wish that I looked like. I do enjoy wearing make-up, whether to create crazy effects or just highlight my features, but I also find it relaxing to not worry about it!

What about you? Does anyone have any thoughts?

(Suggested reading: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.)

45 comments:

  1. for some reason in society wearing make-up has become so typically normal that to not do it becomes a huge 'thing' which really sucks. my trouble is being trans (male to female) you are made to feel more inadequate than you already feel when you don't want to wear it everyday or can't. In my case, being 6ft 2 and stubbly faced + having psoriasis all over my body including face, makes feeling 'pretty' a bit off the cards in the conventional sense, let alone fashionable.
    when I used to go out to goth clubs years ago I never thought of make-up as a mask or cover but like you say, an expression, so get rather miffed when people wonder why I aren't covering my skin up (which I can't when it flares up) or whats the point in bieng trans if you aren't pretty (they really don't get the point). It's as bad as being asked why you aren't wearing a skirt all the time, well simple... most *real* (lol) women I know wear same as me, jeans most of the time and also because I choose not to.
    Life shouldn't be about meeting oh so many of societies expectations, it should be about being yourself and having fun with others you like having fun with!. x

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    1. I agree! I understand why you would be miffed at such remarks - why people seem to think that the way anyone else chooses to present themselves is any of their business I have never understood.

      "whats the point in bieng trans if you aren't pretty" - I don't think I have ever facepalmed with such intensity in all my days. Good lord. Some people are UNbelievable.

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  2. I couldnt agree more, and I have felt all those feelings about makeup.

    I think it's a shame that people nowadays have to wear lot of makeup to be considered pretty so I myself havent worn any in months. I hate doing makeup, it takes time and if I have to scratch my eye it gets messy, I'm more comfortable without :D so if people think I'm ugly they may think so, I dont care anymore. It's my face and I like it without products :D

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    1. Hear hear! Being able to rub my eyes is something I will never take for granted again... although a few times now when I am wearing make-up I have forgotten not to rub my eyes and have smooshed eyeliner all over my face. D'oh XD

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  3. Artistic Darkness2 December 2012 at 19:11

    Strangely, I've noticed that the "popular" folk at my school are the ones who wear little to no makeup... Nevertheless, indeed I do wear makeup, albeit as a form of dark expression. However, it is rather ironic that I am somewhat in the antithetical situation as thee- I often find myself wishing for makeup not merely as a form of expression, but to be the antithesis of society's standards of "beautiful"... I often wish to be repelling in my Gothy ways... I scarcely care what others think, but I do, nevertheless, find myself thinking in such manners..

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    1. This reminds me of early punk and Goth make-up styles, which were certainly not intended to present 'prettiness' but to shock, repel and provoke. An interesting point of view, and perhaps a brave one in modern society where 'beauty' is held to be more important, in some cases, than happiness or personality.

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  4. I can tell you what I think ;-) I think that it's not necessary to have the make up everyday, it can be fun or nice in special occasion but every day is... optional. Well, I have also a question for you because I was loving the "old" Amy aspect and not too much the new one. Why did you have this crisis and change?

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    1. I am still the same 'me' I always was, just in different clothes, I don't think in terms of 'new me' and 'old me' because they are both the same person, just growing, changing and exploring new perspectives. I changed because I felt I was putting limits on myself and wanted to branch out more.

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    2. Mmmmh, I'm still missing the old style and I dont like too much the new one, sorry! :-D
      I know, it's your life and it's right that you do what YOU like (and not what the readers like!) but still... :-(

      P.S.: I dont see the possibility to subscribe the RSS feeds from your blog. Why?

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    3. That's OK, nobody has to like it. <3

      I don't know why, I hadn't noticed that! Will have a look and see if I can fix it. Thanks. ^^

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  5. I agree that you should do and wear whatever you feel is comfortable. no one should be afraid to walk out of the house without makeup or looking stereotypically "pretty".

    P.S.
    Love the new blog, and your baby dreads. :)

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  6. "If you are a woman, everything revolves around whether or not someone wants to fuck you. Instead of addressing all bodies are beautiful, how about, it is not necessary to be universally fuckable?"

    I found this on tumblr and it totally changed my point of view.
    I'm all for loving one's own body and not caring about what beauty is according to society, but there still was something wrong about that. After reading that I understood what it was. I don't need to convince people that they're beautiful in order to make them feel better: people should be able to feel good even if they're not pretty. Our appearance should not matter at all.

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    1. FAB quote. I agree entirely. Thank you for sharing! <3

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  7. I faced a similar struggle a few years back, eventually reaching the same conclusion you did. I had never been too big on wearing lots of eye makeup on a daily basis, but for several years I didn't want to leave the house without using lots of cover-up and foundation to cover up my facial keratosis pilaris. I originally started wearing the cover-up because people would constantly comment on how red my face was ("Oo, you're blushing!" "Is it hot/cold in here?") and it became annoying to the point where I just wanted to be left alone. I hated feeling like I had to cover up my face just to be "presentable" to people in public who I didn't really care about. I just decided to hell with everyone else and now I can't really remember the last time I've worn cover-up or foundation. As for eye makeup, it's taken a lot of thinking and getting used to, but I feel confident going out in public with a completely bare face now. I like to play with makeup looks for fun, to accent my dark style, or for a special event, but I no longer have the urge to put things on my face for the sake of what other people might think of me.

    I've followed your old blog for a long time and I'm glad to see how you are growing up and finding yourself (and at about the same age that I was going through this, too!). I look forward to reading more!

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    1. "I like to play with makeup looks for fun, to accent my dark style, or for a special event, but I no longer have the urge to put things on my face for the sake of what other people might think of me." <--- This, exactly! <3

      Thanks very much! :-D

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  8. As a person who thinks about society, consumating, feminism and fixed ideas of beauty a lot, I really liked this post! I personally wear make-up but only when I want to. I don'
    t use it to cover anything up, I use it as a form of art. Being able to transform my own face into something different is very appealing to me, I like the concept of using myself as a canvas. When I feel bad (ill or sad) I don't wear any make-up ebcause i don't want to hide the fact that I am not feeling too well. This is not what make-up is for (at least in my opinion). It's fun to use but it also has power and this power is something that many people (manly girls and women) don't notice.
    I will never use it because society wants me to, I will use it because I enjoy it. It's the same with shaving, basically.

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    1. I never used to think so much about such topics... it was easier to bury my head in the sand and enjoy mindless consumerism than think about my own motivations and the society that encourages them! I intend to blog more about these sorts of issues as they are becoming more and more important to me. Glad you liked! :-)

      I like the idea of not using make-up to mask 'bad' feelings, if I am sad or tired or sick or hungover why shouldn't you be able to see it in my face, why should I have to make myself more palatable to others?

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    2. Of course no one HAS to show others when he or she feels bad but I don't like that often being sad, ill, hungover, simply not in a good mood is considered to be a weakness but as humans we are not only bright, happy and sparkly all the time, I think we should accept that in ourselfs and in others.

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    3. Yes, I love make up as art! That is a good reason to wear it, not just to hide 'blemishes'. Anyway, I am repeating myself cause I said all this in my post :P

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  9. I applaud your decision to take a step back and reevaluate your life. I wish more people would do that--and not only once in a lifetime. I think you're great, with or without makeup...you're just a good person, Amy, and I always look forward to reading your words.

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    1. You are a DARLING. Thank you so much!

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  10. Gah! I feel like that whenever I am not wearing any makeup. But thats just because I use makeup to cover up my acne scars. Because those are certainly not a pretty sight. At least not in my point of view lol. But on the eyeshadow aspect I love mixing colors and trying out new color combinations its so much fun! And I agree with everything you said on this post. :)That is so true the models we see on tv don't have that flawless skin they show on tv. Its all an illusion.

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    1. It's almost frightening how many people fall for the illusion and come to believe that the only way to be accepted is to be 'perfect' or 'beautiful'; very few women really look the way we are taught women are 'supposed' to look. :-S

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  11. YOu do look pretty in your bare face and the dreads suits you! Your new blog name is lovely.

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  12. Hi Amy :)

    I started reading your old blog a few days before you up and left! Just my luck...! Anyway, just wanted to say I love reading your stuff and although I loved the old blog I'm glad you're being true to yourself - it can take guts.
    I've also struggled in the past with the fact that I absolutely love several different "conflicting" subcultures, and now and then one in particular will interest me and I'll abandon all the others thinking "this is it this time!" - I actually found that the best thing to do for me was incorporate them all into one style (with at times disastrous results!), and if there's a hip-hop gig on I'll go, likewise a goth night. I'm happy with that now. I think you can wholeheartedly love Goth at the same time as wholeheartedly loving other subcultures, or none at all.
    I also wanted to say, I think it's great how you're putting up articles like this one as it's issues like these that at times draw me away from things like the Goth culture, which is frustrating because I love it. I've actually started a whole new blog on sexism within the alternative scene - I'd really love you to have a look if you have time...

    http://notdifferentenough.blogspot.co.uk/

    Anyway thanks for providing me with hours of wicked reading material, and good luck with your new blog :)

    Celia x

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    1. Hi Celia, nice to meet you! <3 Thanks so much for the kind words :-)

      "I've also struggled in the past with the fact that I absolutely love several different "conflicting" subcultures, and now and then one in particular will interest me and I'll abandon all the others thinking "this is it this time!"" - Gah! *hyperventilates* This is so me! I feel like this all the time! I often feel like so many of the subcultures I adore are so completely different and opposite from each other and I convince myself that I 'have' to pick just one... so glad I'm not the only one who does this! I hope that like you I learn to be happy as someone with multiple (and bizarre) tastes. ;-)

      I'm popping over to have a look at your new blog now - it DEFINITELY sounds like the kind of thing I'd like to read. So thank you, too! :-)

      Very best wishes xxx

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    2. Nice to meet you too, Amy. :)

      I'm sure you'll get to a point where you're happy with your style - and anyway, being confused at times is part of the fun of being human I guess! Plus I think you're about my age aren't you? I don't know about you but I find I can forget that actually I'm quite young and of course I'm not going to feel totally settled in myself yet!
      Thanks for taking a look at my blog, I appreciate it.
      Take care! xxx

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    3. I'm 21, so yes, similar age! Same, I often find myself thinking that however I am now is how I will be for the rest of my life, but of course people are always growing and changing... I guess I just need to relax more and go with it. Thanks for the reassuring words!

      xxx

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  13. I just started following your blog. I've read some of the older posts and love your voice that comes through in your writing.

    I'll admit I wear make-up for exactly all the reasons listed above: to cover up, to hide to seem presentable, to feel better. And I do it on purpose. I work on a theory of "look a little better than I feel." And most of the time it leaks into my view of the day and I do actually feel a little better. However, my make-up is my own, and others' is others'.

    I'll also admit there are days I just don't care enough and people can be horrified by how I look. That's fine too. It's still my face.

    I also love your baby dreads!

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    1. Oh, thank you!

      I like your perspective because it seems to me that your focus is on pleasing yourself rather than appeasing others. I do agree that on days when I feel I look nice (whether it's taken a lot of effort or I just got out of bed thinking, "Hm, yes, I look all right today") I am more cheerful and outgoing. So make-up definitely has its uses as a mood-enhancer!

      Thank you, again! :-D

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  14. In my opinion. I also do think you're better without make up, because you are still human like everyone else. We all breathe, cry, eat, live and die. Make up is just a option to enhance ones face as a attraction, nothing wirong with it. But worrying about it, is actually neglecting your own true needs, your own comfortable and happy decision.

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  15. I hate the idea that you HAVE to wear makeup, even just in mainstream culture. When I get told people that wear makeup make more money in general, I cringe.

    I have very sensitive skin. And I mean like allergic to most makeup kind of sensitive. I can use lipstick, but my eyes and cheeks are not makeup fans. They usually start stinging before long. This means that I rarely wear makeup, as well as being absolutely hopeless at it.

    But you know what, people don't seem to care I don't wear makeup. Maybe it's because when I got out, I go all out with the clothes and hair instead. I don't know.

    Most makeup, unless it's purposely bold and noticeable, is actually pretty useless. Eyeliner in the waterline, with no real fancy bits like cat's eyes makes your eyes stand out a little more as does mascara, but it's not really needed. Face makeup hides blemishes, but often irritates people's skin and gives them pimples. It is all down to personal choice, some people need it to feel good, some don't.

    I will always appreciate makeup art though, or whatever you call it when people do amazing designs.

    I would like to think I will always be OK with not really wearing makeup, as it's so hard for me to wear anyway. I hate telling people just how many damn allergies I have!

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    1. I'm with you all the way - no one should HAVE to wear make-up if they don't want to. When reading The Beauty Myth and similar books (and recent newspaper articles) with facts like women who wear make-up are considered more employable, I was shocked - and I'll be honest, it didn't even occur to me that, for various reasons, some women CAN'T wear make-up; I can only imagine how uncomfortable a situation that creates for some women.

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  16. Sooo much of what you wrote here resonates with sooo much with what I've thought all along!~~
    First of all I highly commend you for writing this and getting over having to wear makeup~ I just don't understand the social pressure for women to wear makeup. I was raised in a conservative household where no one wore makeup and have sensitive skin in general. I've always been a "tomboy" and never shown interest in or bothered to learn to apply makeup so I've never felt compelled to wear makeup but it surprises me and disheartens me to see just how many women (and men) are. I've never been feminine and prefer to go under a male name as it reflects my personality better so I've never really encountered much prejudice about my decision to not wear makeup (people just accept it as part of my tomboyishness) but it doesn't surprise me.
    I also much agree and can relate with what you write on the matter of subcultures. I've always been interested in goth but at the same time like so much more that I would feel silly to limit myself. I've never really seen the point in subcultures, to me they're just parallels running alongside to the mainstream culture but nothing as "individualistic" as they claim they are. I went through a similar disillusionment a few years ago and haven't looked back since~ :)

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    1. Thank you!

      In a way I find it quite reassuring that there are people such as yourself who have never succumbed to pressure to wear make-up - but I agree, now that I can take a step back from wearing it and see how many of us are brainwashed into HAVING to wear it (as opposed to just wanting to) it is a little frightening.

      I am delighted to meet so many people who have had similar problems that I have had in regards to belonging to a single subculture - I am really enjoying exploring all the other styles and lifestyles that are out there :-D

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  17. You are a very sweet person, Amy. I'm very happy that you made your decision. Whether it's gothic stuff or not, you really do have a lot of wonderful taste. I haven't put on makeup before, but I am interested because I want to have fun with it thus being creative.

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    1. Aw *blushes* Thank you! Make-up when used creatively (rather than as a stick with which to beat oneself for not being perfect) is a lot of fun. ^^

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  18. I agree with Your opinion on make-up completely, and I applaud Your courage. I am a faithful reader of Yours for about a year, and I grew to deeply respect You as a person. While I love Your style posts, Your writing was always more than a simple fashion blog for me. I think I could even say it helped me become a better and happier person. Thank You.

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    1. *squeals and flails*

      Thank you so, so much! Oh, you have no idea how much this made my day! Thank you!

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  19. I'm pretty much in the same boat as Tobi - I've never felt the need to wear makeup, but I don't judge others who do so, I just look at it as something they enjoy doing. If it reaches they point where they don't enjoy putting it on but feel they have to, then that, to me, is a problem. I've never liked it when my mum's told me that it's expected of me as a female to wear makeup, even if only to special occasions. I can feel it on my face and it just feels bizarre. Plus I have super sensitive skin, so I couldn't really wear makeup on a daily basis even if I wanted to :p

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    1. I sympathise - I am lucky in that my mum rarely wears make-up and has never told me that I have to or that it's expected. I find it somewhat irritating that others, no matter how close to you, feel that they are entitled to have a say in what you do or do not put on your own face.

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  20. I managed to avoid the "you have to wear makeup" ideal, although not too quietly since it was thrown at me from every subculture. No one could understand that I just didn't ever feel the need to, nor did I want to. It bothered me that people bugged me so much over it.
    For me, the funny part is when people are always asking me what I do to my skin to keep it looking so young and I say "nothing".

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