|My pre-Face-Off February before-and-after mugshots.|
The left-hand picture is my totally unembellished face. Not so bad, really, now that I see them side by side…though I was sitting right in front of the window, and sunlight is kind. The right-hand photo is after the application of liquid-powder foundation, brown eyebrow pencil, a bit of blush, a tiny taste of eyeliner, taupe eye shadow, one sweep of "brownish-black" mascara, and tinted lip balm (I hate the feeling of lipstick). That's me on an average-plus day. On a plain old average day, I don't bother with eyeliner or shadow. Bonus: I took these the day before I dyed my roots, so you can catch a glimpse of my encroaching silver up top. There's way more where that came from!
The women I've chatted to about this month's challenge seem to fall into two camps. Camp One never wears makeup, and they don't see the big deal at all. Camp Two's members have been wearing makeup since junior high and won't even fetch the mail without at least mascara on. I'm more of a Camp Two girl, but obviously, I'm not so afraid of my own natural face that I won't lock the cosmetics away for twenty-eight days. Hmmm, twenty-eight days…not unlike rehab.
I know intellectually that my face is just fine. I know that the average dude can't look at a woman and tell whether she's made up or not (my husband) and if even if he can, he doesn't really care. Women who are into makeup, however—they notice.
I used to be much more of a Camp Two recruit. It wasn't until I began a volunteer job at the New England Aquarium in 2005 that I realized it was possible to be seen with a bare face and survive the experience. My job there involved bobbing around in a wetsuit chest-deep in cold water, feeding the penguins and cleaning their exhibit, and makeup doesn't last long in that environment. Certainly not mascara.
At first, that felt weird. Oh my crap—people are seeing me without mascara! You know how in Disney movies, even the female animal characters have eyelashes? I had one of those moments, as if my gender were suddenly thrown into question. As if eyelashes are like the female cock and balls, and going bare was a castration of my femininity. That sounds so ridiculous now, but here we are. Anyhow, working at the aquarium got me over my irrational fear that I may cease to exist as a viable (or indeed, identifiable) woman in the absence of cosmetics.
The other thing that loosened me up about makeup was my relationship. My husband was the first man I really lived with (platonic roommates and one very brief, epic cohabitation FAIL notwithstanding) and you just can't spend the entirety of your marriage avoiding being seen without your bra on or your cellulite masked by candlelight or your face done up. Plus my manfriend is from Oregon—he's a beardy outdoorsy man with intermediate chainsaw skills and little patience for fussiness. He doesn't notice whether or not I'm made up. Not because he doesn't look at me. More like the presence of makeup is a tone heard on a non-human frequency, or a color imperceptible to his eyes. It just doesn't register. Bless him. Which isn't to say I've changed my routines too much since we've gotten comfy with one another…just modified them a bit. It's pathetic to fear the reverse might be true, but it's very reassuring to know you'll be loved equally at both your best and your worst.
Sorry, tangent. So anyway, let the experiment begin! Let's see just how comfortable I get in my own natural face this month. If nothing else, I'll save myself at least five minutes each morning, as well as the annoying under-eye-finger-wipe that any mascara-wearing woman caught in a rain- or snowstorm can appreciate.
Farewell, my put-together sisters. See you in March!