It's Been A Progressive Change...

Lord knows when I was much younger (and looked it), say around the high school and college years, I would nary visit the mailbox without 'full war paint'. From alarm clock to car keys, it took me an hour and thirty minutes simply to prepare my physical body to make a public appearance. It was quite the process: cleansing, exfoliating, toning, moisturizing, concealing, applying the Spackle that foundation seems to be.... two shades of eyeliner, lip liner, base powder on my lids, then the tone, then the brow highlighter, a brush of a brow pencil, curling of the lashes, two coats of mascara; then lip stick over the lip liner, blot, and repeat. Then gloss. This, of course, was after I'd spent entirely too much time spraying **** in my hair and then blow-drying it; then rolling it, letting it cool, removing the rollers, letting it cool some more, touching up with the curling iron, and then shellacking it all in place. Twice. I was highly flammable back in those days. Then it was off to change clothes at least twice, and shoes, too, and dig around in something that resembled a treasure chest of cheap fake jewels. Choosing earrings could take ten minutes by itself.

Then Corporate America controlled my world for a few more years; or well, nearly a decade, a fourth of my entire life. Make-up, oh, I mean 'cosmetics' were part of the unspoken dress code, but of course. And grown-up make-up, that is.... no more glittery eye shadows or heavy black eye-liner; no more bubble gum flavored lip gloss. This was the big-time. My nail polish absolutely could not show a chip... no blonde roots, and everything had to be "subtle". "Earth tones". The exception to this was the all-time classic, red. For formal occasions only, of course, and you'd better be damn sure that your lips and nails and belt and shoes matched. There are a thousand shades of red out there, after all.

Lady Gaga would have been immediately escorted from the premises in a straight jacket were she to have made an appearance back then. Cyndi Lauper had already blown it for her by then. That, of course, was long before the days where self-mutilation, bizarre piercings and 'body art' had made their appearances. Emo then would have been labeled, 'psycho'. And 'Goth' was the look kids took on after they got out of rehab. Not before, like it is today.

I've taken respites in this process, of course. When motherhood came and with two boys not quite a year apart even, I was doing good to brush my hair and teeth. In the same day. Then the divorce came, and went, and in the move to my own place, I suppose, I found my make-up bag and was back to my old antics again. Every old barn could use a little paint, after all.

The problem with cosmetics, make-up, 'product', whatever you want to call all these lotions and potions and creams and 'all day wear' cosmetics, now that we've gotten past the part where we no longer 'test on animals' (thankfully), is that we are now testing on humans. That 'vanillin' that's in your supposed-to-be-good for you lip balm? Is a petroleum product. As are most cosmetics. And since they're made to apply directly to our skin, which absorbs anything placed on it 'subcutaneously', these chemicals enter our blood stream. Not to mention they're pricey. Back in the day, mascara ran about three bucks. Now the cheap stuff's closer to ten. But I digress.

Somewhere in my late thirties, I met a man who was newly divorced. I knew him and his wife socially. And she? Either needed to insert her contact lenses BEFORE applying her makeup, or she secretly wished she was Tammie Faye Baker. Well, not quite to that extreme, but let's face it, if you're using cosmetics that aren't right for your skin tone, the look is pretty much the same. Somehow the topic of make-up came up; maybe I confided in him that I'd really like the opportunity to "do her", and sorry to disappoint all, but I'm referring to her face. He enthusiastically said that he'd tried to talk to her about it; that she just didn't see it or something; and she said something about 'feeling undressed' without her make-up. My first thought was, "My God, I'd hate to have to see her naked."

But he said that he liked a girl all natural... that make-up and push-up bras and torture chamber pantyhose were 'false advertising' in his book. That he didn't understand why women felt the need to do such things to themselves, and that women, in his opinion, were far prettier without make-up than with. He must not have watched many episodes of Desperate Housewives, because, I'm sorry, but those women are stunning. All made up, that is. I've seen a handful of pictures of what's her name 'bare-skinned', and I have to say, it ain't pretty. I look better than that with no sleep and a sinus infection. And thankfully, I don't get those any more, nor are my eyes itchy and red, now that I've stopped wearing make-up. Apparently I was allergic to something in something or other, which kept me with dark circles under my eyes, which required more concealer.... it was a vicious cycle of abuse and I had to kick the habit.

Now, I've reached an age where my entire emotional well being does not only NOT revolve around my appearance, but I think I'm actually starting to look younger now that I'm getting older. At forty-five, I have not found one gray hair (anywhere that I'd tell you about here on E.P., that is; and you can bet I plucked that baby at first sighting.) I spend enough time outdoors every day that my skin has taken on its usual summer glow (nope, it's not sprayed on), and my hair has natural blonde highlights from the sun. I still shave my legs and pluck the unibrow, though... no worries that I've completely let myself go... because I have an eyebrow that wants to be a side-burn... pretty much the only signs of aging I've seen so far. People ask me what my secret is, and I tell them, "I quit painting all that crap on my face."

texastomgirl texastomgirl
41-45, F
2 Responses May 9, 2012

Fantastic pieces of writing - laughed all the way through :)

Good story. Speaking of makeup, recently (not from personnal use) I found out that in Europe the prohibit the use of 1,100 chemicals used in makeup and beuty products while the FDA here in the US only prohibits 11.

That's just the tip of the iceburg, my friend. Thanks for reading, y'all!