Painted On

I splashed water on my face and pressed the towel to my skin as I exhaled. This was the part of the evening where I stripped off the layers of makeup that I had walked around with all day, the part of the evening where I was sure no one else would see me.

I was never certain how I felt when I looked in the mirror. Everyone has aspects of themselves they love and hate, but ever since I was a teenager, my face without makeup was something I sooner kept to myself; it was reserved for nights in and only to be seen by family members that had been around long enough to know what I looked like before I began painting the foundation on in the first place.

And painting is what it really was. My morning routine slowly became longer and longer, with new products being added in to deal with the mess I was creating by layering all sorts of concoctions on my skin. After slathering on moisturizer and primer, I took a brush and swiped the same liquid foundation on my skin I had been using for the past ten years. Now I looked like a pale canvas, and it took blush to add back the rosiness to my cheeks that was hiding underneath everything. Eyebrow powder and mascara were added, of course, because without it, I simply didn’t feel pretty. It was rarely over the top, but just enough to make my eyes a little darker.

“Funny,” I thought, “that I’m using all this makeup to try to make it look like I’m not wearing any at all.”

The thought of leaving the house without makeup was horrifying. I had even been known to run away screaming “not it” when the pizza guy rang the doorbell, leaving a previous partner to answer the door so the delivery man wouldn’t have to bear witness to the horrors of seeing my face in a natural state.

After years of this, I was starting to grow tired of it. Maybe it was the dry, flaky skin that was revealed after washing off the chemicals with more chemicals. Instead of simply letting my skin breathe and come back down to a state of equilibrium where it produced the right amount of oils, my solution was to keep painting on the hordes of products and hope that adding in some more moisturizer would magically help.

I was done now. A couple of weeks ago, I began talking to a friend about all of this, and she recommended I try some natural oils. The thought of it was both intriguing and scary at the same time. Yes, I wanted to stop putting unnecessary chemicals on my body, but the concept of leaving the house without first producing a mask to hide behind was still a foreign concept to me. As I brought the natural products home, I placed the four items in the same spot where twenty had previously sat, and made a note of the outrageous amount of money I could save if this actually worked.

The next morning I woke up, splashed water on my face, and…..didn’t do anything else that I normally do. I threw on a tiny amount of eyebrow powder, if only to make them visible so that people would be able to see my expressions. I grabbed my keys and left for school, wildly aware that I looked a little different in public than I had in the last fifteen years or so. And with that, something amazing happened….

Nothing. Nothing happened at all. The sky didn’t fall in. No one looked at me like I had two heads. A “please make Diane put her makeup back on” petition wasn’t being passed around. I even told a friend about the whole thing and her response was “huh, I honestly didn’t really notice.”

And there you have it. This may seem silly. In fact, it felt quite silly writing it. But the message of needing to slather on a bunch of makeup to leave the house, or even to feel human, is thrown at us from every direction at much too young an age. It was one that stuck with me through the years, only allowing me to feel attractive if I first turned myself into someone I wasn’t.

So, although this is all very new to me, I will take these warm feelings and continue to fly with them. Sometimes I leave the house and still feel a little off, but I only need to remind myself that it’s my thinking I need to change, and not what I put on my skin.

A few days after I started my new routine of having less of a routine, as the first morning light poured into the bedroom on my bare face, I opened my eyes and looked at my partner.

“You’re beautiful.”

I smiled, closed my eyes, and slipped back into dreamland.


Have a wonderful weekend,


2 thoughts on “Painted On

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