This morning I woke up, sat in front of my small mirror and felt distinctly unlike myself. I looked in the mirror and saw a face I didn’t really recognise. Eventually it came back to me that I was me but I still thought that the “I” in the mirror looked a bit puffy, a bit tired. Had I had an allergic reaction in the middle of the night? Was I just this ugly all the time?
Before these questions had their usual self-hatred spiralling effect, I carefully cleaned the residue of winged liner from my eyes. I ran lip balm over my lips. I filled in my eyebrows, re-lined, mascara-ed and covered my face and back my glasses went. Placed in their usual position, framing my face, another form of armour.
I brushed my nest of hair and tied a bit back in my usual way and with these small changes felt ready to take on the last week of dissertation, the shifts at work this week, the people I will see. Things that can seem like a mountain range shift into an obstacle course; still there but doable.
Sometimes I don’t need the lipstick or the mascara. In fact most of the time I can go about my day with the minimum of make-up on or even nothing at all. I don’t think about it too much until these days when I do. And sometimes I don’t want to think about the feminist ramifications of it. Today, especially, I don’t. I have things to be doing. If I need some mascara to get me through the day, then so be it. As Dodie Clark puts it, what’s wrong with a little bit of paint?
I don’t have an answer to this and my relationship with make-up is something I’d like to think about a bit further. As someone who identified for so long with the idea of being crap at make-up/hair/beauty/clothes, it causes something of an identity crisis to then begin to master winged liner. So this may become a series of little posts about these things which aren’t the focus of my life but turn up in the form of YouTube tutorials.