Assorted Thoughts on Make-Up

No kidding, this really is a post about make-up, as in cosmetics.


One of the ironies of our existence is that even with the gift of vision, we cannot see our full selves without the aid of a mirror or other reflecting device. I say this because there is something unusual about me today. I am wearing make-up: foundation, mascara, eye shadow, blush and a hint of lipstick. Anita, a seasoned make-up artist, applied it gently with nimble fingers and with careful attention to my response. This was part of my collaboration with a professional photographer.

I am wearing make-up and it would most likely be obvious to you if you were looking at me. Yet I am the one who barely sees it. Make-up in this form changes my appearance although I am hard-pressed to say exactly how. My eyes are more prominent perhaps, or my eyebrows more shapely, I don’t know. I don’t do this on a regular basis or even from time to time. This is a once in a blue moon affair and I can see why.

If I am wearing make-up but can’t see it, who is it for? That’s the question that keeps bubbling up. And I don’t have an answer.

My desire to keep checking my reflection to see if it’s all still there or if it’s still me waned fairly quickly.

I am also wondering about the term “make-up”. What comes to mind is imaginative play – the act of “making things up,” of creating a fiction. And this seems to capture the spirit of applying make-up: to make visible that which was not previously visible, to highlight and enhance certain features, to create a sort of facial fiction.

It’s not that I am against make-up. I have just never understood how to apply it to my life. Cosmetics have never made much sense to me. They cost time, money, and patience that I am not inclined to spend. I went through a nail polish phase a year or two ago and really enjoyed taking that time for myself.  Then I switched and filled those moments with crocheting instead. This year crocheting has given way to writing.

During my junior year abroad, I roomed with a girl named Jackie. She was from Tulsa and a virtuoso with make-up. Every morning she would rise early and put together color combinations on her eyelids and cheeks which were as astonishing as they were elaborate. Her make-up kit was extensive and well appointed and Jackie did not shy away from daring shapes and radical color choices. I admired both her discipline and bravery and I have not met another person with her level of make-up expertise or dedication since.

I wonder if aging will bring me into the cosmetics fold?

On the other hand, the market will not miss me if I never show up.

My 8 year old noticed my new look with “what’s that blue on your eye?” (or did he say “goo”?). I wanted to find out more. His take: “It’s too dark, it makes you look bad, like you’re sick.” Which I suppose is his way of saying “I love you just the way you are.”

By now I have taken the liberty of removing whatever was left. Show’s over. It’s back to the every day, no frills look. Back to the me I know and recognize and even love. My questions about make-up, its lure and drawbacks, however, will continue to pop up and tickle my curiosity.





One thought on “Assorted Thoughts on Make-Up

  1. […] After her photoshoot Sherri arrived at home and her younger son was kind of surprised to see her with “so much color in her face”. For her it was also unusual and therefore she wrote an article about the experience. I loved her article about wearing makeup you can read it on her blog. […]

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