Thursday, April 2, 2009


There was a very interesting post + comment thread yesterday over at The F-Word. The talented Rachel shared her experience covering a local child pageant. She was struck both by the level of creepy as well as the high cost of preparing for and attending these events. That led to a discussion of daily makeup/beauty routines and how much people spend on products.

It got me thinking about my own cosmetic use. I didn't learn how to put on makeup from my mother because my mother did not wear makeup. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I saw her in lipstick (always in her teal-green "fancy" dress and black flats). I was a makeup virgin until the seventh grade. In retrospect, learning makeup skills from fellow seventh-graders was perhaps not ideal. I remembered watching, fascinated, as one of my friends easily drew a thick line around each eye. I was too pale for much eyeliner, but hoo boy did I love silver glitter eyeshadow. That was an unfortunate time.

I toned it down eventually, and throughout high school I went through periods of not wearing any makeup at all. Around junior and senior year I settled into a routine of foundation, concealer, blush, mascara and occasionally liner/shadow that took me all of seven minutes to complete. Now I omit the blush and liner/shadow for everyday. I buy drugstore brands (I was horrified by the cosmetic-counter prices when I went for prom) and the most expensive thing I have now is my foundation, which was about $8. I have a couple of lipsticks that I rarely wear, several glosses, and a couple tubes of balm. Things like lotion, razors and deodorant I consider hygiene expenses. Maybe the razors would be more cosmetic, though.

Hair, too, is a tricky hygiene/cosmetic border-crosser. I use a 2-in-1 shampoo and on rare occasions use a very light gel. Again, drugstore brands. Plus my short hair doesn't need much shampoo at all - I bought the current, half-empty bottle in early January. I don't dye my hair, partly because I'm a little afraid to.

The point of this and the F-Word's discussion was not to demonize or criticize women who use expensive cosmetics or large quantities. There's not a darn thing wrong with wanting to look professional, sexy, cute, fresh or whatever. And it's okay to want to look natural or forgo makeup as a non-verbal "fuck you" to the patriarchy or consumerism or whatever. I just think it's interesting as all hell how we (women especially, but dudes too) create our outward appearances every day.


Gaining Back My Life said...

This is the category where I admit to being a beauty junkie. As the years have passed, though, it's been honed down to mainly skincare stuff.

It's my treat to myself, I guess.

Lisa said...

I can understand that. A new tube of mascara makes my day.

Tiptoe said...

Had to laugh about the silver glitter eyeshadow. In the latter years of high school/early college, I was very big into blue eyeshadow.

These days, I hardly wear make-up except if going out, and it's the bare naturals stuff.

Kristina said...


I've had to really think about my appearance over the past two years as I've switched from spending time solely in the classroom to being more administrative. It has sort of annoyed me that I "have" to look more professional, but I've also discovered that if I look the part, it does give me a boost in terms of confidence and all of that stuff.
Makeup is a totally different topic. I buy decent stuff that will last me for years and I don't vary. I'm not too exciting, as you can see.