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Masking or Enhancing? Makeup and My Self Esteem Fashion & Beauty 

Masking or Enhancing? Makeup and My Self Esteem

I was about 14 when I first heard a derogatory comment made about girls wearing makeup. It was the beginning of the age old, “And that’s why you take a girl swimming on your first date!” craze. Boys suddenly began to view makeup as a lie, that girls used it to mask their true appearance in a bid to fool them into fancying them.

I’ve always had a positive relationship with makeup despite being brought up in a household where it never appeared. My mum never wore makeup, (she didn’t even wear it on her wedding day!) and therefore I was never exposed to it in any serious capacity until I reached secondary school. Any girl will vouch that years 7 through 9 are the “awkward makeup phase”, where concealer as lipstick and ‘spider lashes’ reigned supreme. I was, to some degree, a victim of this trend, although I largely avoided it due to my mum’s regular exclamations of, ‘What in God’s name is on your face?’. Thank God for Mum.

But as I grew, my interest in makeup and in beauty more largely began to grow and grow. I began to invest in better, more expensive makeup and receive gifts of palettes and brushes galore. I have worn makeup consistently now into my late teens and have no plans on stopping. Therefore, throughout my many years of makeup wearing, I have experienced many opinions on it and have developed many of my own.

I, along with many makeup users worldwide, do not depend on makeup to change my appearance into one more satisfying, and I certainly do not use it to impress the opposite sex or seduce them like some kind of deceptive Eve character. Makeup provides a unique opportunity to both mend things that one is not totally satisfied with, such as covering a spot or hiding redness or dark undereye bags, and to express oneself in a similar way to that which we do through our clothing. I can not imagine a single person out there would choose to look in the mirror and see a tired and under the weather version of themselves when instead they could remedy those areas with a spot of concealer and 30 seconds of time. I fall into the camp of those who feel good when they know they look good, and makeup helps me to achieve this. Does this mean that I can’t bear to leave the house with a bare face? No it most certainly does not, I’m proud of my natural features, chubby cheeks and all, but the opportunity to disguise from the world that I’ve only had 4 hours sleep or that my skin is breaking out is a bonus that I will take any day.

Therefore, makeup, to me, is the ultimate enhancer. You can take what you have and make it even better, in a non permanent and experimental way. Dissatisfied with the thinness of my top lip, for example, I can give myself a full pout with the help of lip liner. This provides a temporary solution, taking away a problem that could otherwise only be fixed by fillers. Mascara solves that which could be remedied with eyelash extensions and concealer that which could be remedied with expensive skin treatments.

Makeup offers the opportunity of further expression also, mimicking the concept behind the way we choose to dress. Depending on my mood, a dark smokey eye and a red lip makes me feel badass! But equally, a bit of bronzer and a nude matte lipstick gives me a healthy glow that makes me feel pretty. Makeup artistry is a fabulous skill, and they’re not called Makeup Artists for no reason! The ability to turn the face into a canvas of colours is a truly beautiful ability.

After reflecting on this topic for sometime, while preparing to write this article, I’ve come to a few overall conclusions. In a world that values absolute perfection, makeup offers the chance many, who may otherwise experience unfair feelings of inadequacy, an opportunity to boost their confidence. Where acne, dark circles and anything less than the perfect pout are sneered at, who can blame a girl for relying on her concealer sometimes. Makeup, along with so many things that surround our body, is at the disposal of the individual to use in any way they see fit. If knowing your cheekbones look chiseled and well contoured, or that your new lipstick makes your lips look crazily sexy enables you to hold your head higher and walk taller, I can see no counter argument. To those who believe that full, luscious eyelashes are the norm and perfectly pouted lips are a gift to most from birth, you are blissfully delusional.  And to my fellow makeup users, artists, and fanatics, I say this: your makeup does not define you or your beauty, but continue to slay those eyebrows, continue to blend and to contour and to smoke those eyes, because with makeup or without, we are all beautiful!

Alice Masterson

Feature Image credit: Jessica Gray

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