I Love/Hate Makeup

There's no surprise — and no shame — that we enhance our appearance with cosmetics.

by Tina Lamb • More.com Member { View Profile }

Today was supposed to have been a busy day, bursting with activities. But through a series of unforeseen conflicts, the day opened up.

I smiled at my luck, slipping on an old tee shirt and yesterday’s jeans. No need for makeup! No blending of tinted moisturizer, no penciling of liner, and no swabbing of wayward mascara flecks. Best of all, no stripping it off at the end of the day.

As I gloated, teenage memories flitted at the periphery of my mind: poring over Aziza eye makeup adds in Seventeen magazine, walking to the drugstore to try the new self-adjusting blusher, slipping a fruity roll-on lip gloss into my pocket, rising early to primp before my lighted makeup mirror.

And what about now?

I study over-40 makeup advice in More magazine, debate the merits of cream versus powder blusher, keep a rosy-brown mint gloss at hand, and annoy my all-male family with an unwillingness to go to the movies without makeup. In fact, I zipped across the street this evening to grab a book from our public library and hoped no one I knew would see me makeup-less.

What does this say about me? 

Maybe it’s a matter of vanity, caring too much about my appearance. Or maybe makeup serves as a means of compensation for some sense of inferiority.

American feminist Erica Jong equated cosmetic use with a quest for passion: “Isn't that the problem? That women have been swindled for centuries into substituting adornment for love, fashion (as it were) for passion? All the cosmetics names seemed obscenely obvious to me in their promises of sexual bliss. They were all firming or uplifting or invigorating. They made you tingle. Or glow. Or feel young. They were prepared with hormones or placentas or royal jelly. All the juice and joy missing in the lives of these women were to be supplied by the contents of jars and bottles. No wonder they would spend $20 for an ounce of face makeup or $30 for a half-ounce of hormone cream. What price bliss? What price sexual ecstasy?”

She may have a point.

But here’s what I think: all human beings value beauty, in one form or another — and we all need to feel valued as individuals. So it’s no surprise — and no shame — that we enhance our appearance with cosmetics, to feel a little more beautiful within the body God’s given us.

Fast-forward two weeks.

I just left an early-morning dermatologist appointment, where I was treated for allergic dermatitis of the skin around my eyes. The doc gave me an ointment and said the itch could’ve been caused by any number of things, including one of my cosmetics.

Today is going to be a busy day, bursting with activities. But, per doctor’s orders, there will be no blending of tinted moisturizer, no penciling of liner, and no swabbing of wayward mascara flecks.

And again, I’m smiling at my luck — at least for today.

What’s your reaction?