Teacher: “What do you think of when you think of the word ‘primary’?
Student: I think of the word primer.
Teacher: Okay, and what is primer? What is primer used for?
Student: Well, you use it before you put your makeup on, so you’re makeup doesn’t come off.
Teacher: Yes, primer goes on first. It’s first in the sequence. I was thinking paint primer when you first said it!
Obviously, the teacher and this student are born in different times. That is an obvious statement, but I need us to recognize that I am not just referring to literal years; I am talking about the different eras. She was born in era of social media, PhotoShopped photos, makeup artist tutorials that go viral and create fame, and girls- younger and younger- wearing makeup. Not just wearing makeup, but young girls feeling the NEED to wear makeup. Feeling the pressure of the outside world to look a certain way. Trying to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses are constantly popping up on their newsfeed.
I did not grow up in that world. Makeup was something I played around with as a kid. I remember that Barbie Caboodle one Christmas. Lipgloss, blush, and eyeshadow. I felt like I was a princess. I had older sisters, so- of course- I always wanted to look a little older. Like them. They wore makeup, so I wanted to wear makeup, too. To me, wearing makeup was more of a rite of passage. It was not something I did so I could like the way I looked. I liked the way I looked; I just wanted to look and feel “older”.
I worry about today’s girls. Are they wearing makeup so they can look just like that photoshopped model? Are they wearing makeup because they do not feel pretty? I just did not grow up in that time. I wore makeup because I wanted to. Not for a second did I question my own beauty. I am sure a large part of that has to do with how I was raised.
I am a mix of a girly-girl and a tom-boy. I always have been. I was raised with all the frills and bows of being super girly, but I also laced up my workboots when I accompanied my contractor father to his job-sites. When this little fourth grader talked about makeup primer, I was shocked. I have never been that interested in makeup. The only reason I really know about makeup primer is because I wore it on my wedding day. I had heard of it before, but it would never be the first thing that popped into my head when someone asks what you think of when you hear the word “primer”.
This fourth grader’s response scared me. Why does she know so much about makeup? Why is she wearing mascara right now? She has highlights in her hair? I have never dyed my hair in all my life. To an extent, to each his own, but when do we stop pushing our girls to cover up their faces? When do we stop glamorizing “playing dress up” and allow it to become an every day occurrence?
Cinderella spent her days covered in dust and dirt. The only makeup she wore was the shoe polish she accidentally rubbed across her forehead at the end of a hard day. She was beautiful without the makeup. Of course, for the ball, she put on makeup and wore that beautiful dress to accent the features she already loved about herself. She was playing dress up for just one night. But, if we allow our girls to play dress up every day, how will they feel any different when they get ready for the ball? Even with globs of mascara and eye liner, they still may feel like they are not good enough. Their new baseline of happiness is a face full of makeup. So, they reach for the lash extensions. They darken their eyebrows. When that is not enough, they ask to get some lip injections.
My question is: when do we encourage girls to walk out of the house with only their God-given face and not the airbrushed creation? Yes. Creation. It is not real. It is not natural. It is fabricated according to a design deemed as the norm. When do we start being role models for the little girls in our lives and let them know that makeup is fun, but it does not define them? Should we force these little ladies to fall in love with their natural faces before we allow them to cover it with layers of a fallacy, an unattainable measure? We cannot ALWAYS be “camera-ready”. It takes too much time. It is exhausting. It really is not necessary. It makes us forget that we are enough.
After 31+ years of life, I am trying to get used to my face again- my makeup free, raw, unadorned face. This seems ridiculous that after all this time I have to learn about something that I see every day. I have to relearn to appreciate my God-given traits without any alterations that I can buy in the store.
Today, I looked especially tired. I looked at my face in the mirror and the following thoughts went through my head: I wish my eyes didn’t look so tired. I wish I had less bags under my eyes. I wish my lips were naturally pinker. I had to stare my self down in the mirror to stop these self-deprecating thoughts. I would not let my reflection leave without giving her a wonderful compliment. I looked deeply at my face. What DO I like? It took some time, more time than I would like to admit. I settled on my lashes. I like my long, dark lashes.
This is day 6 of wearing no makeup, and I love it. I want my makeupless face to become the norm that people are used to seeing. The norm that I am used to seeing. I want to love my face in its rawest form.
When it is time for ball, I will not need the makeup to feel prettier. I will already know I am beautiful. I will not have to relearn to love my face. I will play dress up because- after all- I am a girly girl, but once the ball has ended, I will wash the makeup off and be perfectly happy with the face staring back at me. I am a Cinderella Girl.