Why we think we need it
Make-up is some form of warpaint. Different to warriors we don’t use it to scare off, but to attract. While warriors want to protect themselves by looking terrifying, we want to protect ourselves by attracting others. We are afraid to present ourselves naturally, clean, free of make-up in public, because we dread people’s opinions and judgments. If we would present ourselves unmade-up, we’d be naked. Everyone could see what we are about unvarnished.
But where does it come from that we prefer a made-up self, a veiled image? I don’t say that make-up can’t be fun even though it’s answering the subconscious desire to attract. But first of all we make up to protect ourselves from criticism. We don’t only want to appeal attractive to others, but also to ourselves. When people say that they only make up for themselves it may be true, but it implies that they like themselves better made up than natural, varnished than pure, veiled than naked.
I know it myself. Would I go to a first date unmade-up? Surely not. Maybe if I would have met that person doing WWOOFing, hiking in the mountains, wandering the St James Path or at a Hippie festival. But even if we would have met in the gym where you are not only unmade-up, but also sweaty, I probably wouldn’t. Or at least not in the past. Because most people in our society consider you made-up more beautiful. So you need to decide whether you consider it worth it.
It’s no surprise if we don’t like our natural selves when we take a look at how most of us nourish. I’m not only talking about the food we eat, but also about love and light. If you eat unhealthy – animal based and processed – food, you can’t be surprised about blemished skin. If you have negative thoughts, don’t love yourself and have self-doubts, your skin will most-likely show it. If you don’t get enough sunlight – and therefore Vitamin D – and your lifestyle is not active enough, it will be noticeable on your skin. All these factors influence and increase each other – and therefore the well-being and appearance of the skin. Thusly it’s no surprise if we feel unmade-up naked – because we are naked. Our skin shows how good we take care of ourselves, how we cope with stress and how much self-love we have. This nakedness means to be unobstructed yourself.
If we are long enough in a relationship – an intimate, amicable or familiar one – we usually let our mask slip. We show ourselves unmade-up and feel comfortable with it. We trust that person and show our true face and self. We loose our fear of being criticised and appraised. We are able to receive and accept love for being ourselves.
That’s different in public. Unmade-up into the supermarket, the bus, to an event? No. 1 and 2 may be easy, but No. 3? How would people react if they would see you unmade-up in a club, at a birthday party or at a media event?!!! The thought alone may make you shudder. The public would put you through a meat-grinder. It would be your social suicide – wouldn’t it?
That fear is not totally unfounded. Just think about your own reactions towards people whose appearance diverges from the norm. You’re safe if you conform to the norm. Being unmade-up or heavily made-up appears likewise suspicious – at some places more than at others. Or is it just a figment of our unconfident selves?
We are too critical with others and ourselves if we feel vulnerable. To judge and to condemn gives us a power that we usually don’t feel because of our own insecurities. Make-up however gives us the power to veil these insecurities. With make-up we feel more attractive, confident, precious because we conform to the perceptions of the ideal of the standardised society. We don’t try to get to the bottom of that norm and don’t ask ourselves if it makes sense to us. We grew up with it, got it induced by the media and our same-aged environment. That´s enough to follow it.
But how can we feel more self-confident being our true selves and conquer our fears of not being enough? The secret is simple hence difficult. We need to awake. We need to start asking questions, we need to learn to love ourselves and to be enough for ourselves – and thereby for others. If we are able to do it, the war against ourselves will be over and our warpaint against our fears and the sufficiency of our society will be unnecessary. You just need to make the difficult first step into that direction and it will get easier.