I’ve worn makeup since the age of 13. One day I went from wearing no makeup at all to wearing as much makeup as a 13-year-old could do. This has resulted in makeup and me having a rollercoaster of a relationship since then.
I started wearing makeup when I was 13 because I was bullied in my first year of high school. I had not yet found my style (as many teens have not), wore braces and also wore thick framed glasses (which were very unfashionable at the time).
This lead to people calling me ‘ugly betty’, alongside other awful names. Of course this knocked my confidence in myself completely. I do not think it helped that I went from being the tallest in my class (I do not know how this was even possible), to the smallest over the course of a summer. I felt as though I stuck out like a sore thumb and I hated it.
So, I turned to makeup as a way of blending in at school. I had absolutely no idea about makeup or how to apply it because I had never really seen it prior to high school. My sister was too young for makeup (she still doesn’t wear it now at 19-years-old) and my mum has never worn makeup in her life. Both my sister and my mum are beautiful and always have been to me, I never thought they needed makeup to blend in and thought they were beautiful without it. So, I have no idea why the only thing I thought would fix the bullying I faced was makeup, but it did. And that is where the issues started.
I did not know how to pick the right foundation shade so I definitely went to school looking bright orange. I did not blend it in correctly and had absolutely no idea about makeup techniques. But, the minute I started wearing makeup I felt as though I blended in at high school. Also, I started straightening my hair, got contact lenses and had my braces removed and subsequently the bullying stopped. Obviously, as a teen I made the link between the fact that if I wore makeup I was not bullied and if I did not wear it I was bullied.
This left me feeling as though the only way to stop being bullied was to wear makeup, straighten my hair and wear my contact lenses instead of my glasses. Throughout high school I continued to wear makeup, added more things to my makeup routine and pluck my eyebrows to within an inch of their life to look the best I felt I could do. I could tell my relationship at the time with makeup wasn’t a good one but I couldn’t do anything about it.
At 15 I wouldn’t leave the house without doing my makeup, my hair or wearing my glasses and this is something that continued for years, even after leaving high school. I would love to know what my situation in high school would have been like if I had never worn makeup. I can only imagine it would have been a whole lot different and that I might now be a different person.
In college, I finally developed my own style. I continued to pick up makeup techniques and felt a little bit more confident in myself. Another issue that arose in college was that I’d damaged my hair so much over the course of high school with how much I was straightening it that I had to give it a break or the damage would have taken years to fix. So, I was left going to college with my natural frizzy hair that I absolutely hated and my confidence fell yet again.
I went through so much at college that damaged my self-confidence yet again. I went through some terrible relationships and my confidence was at an all time low. I hated how I looked when I wasn’t wearing makeup. I would not let my friends see me without makeup and always hid behind my makeup as if it were a mask. By this point in time I looked at makeup as a chore I did daily and not something that I enjoyed doing.
Not to sound cliché here but it was when I met David (who I have been with nearly 6 years) that my relationship with makeup began to change. Even though my family had told so many times over the years how much they loved me and how beautiful I was without makeup, I did not believe them. I felt comfortable with David immediately, he saw me without makeup and called me beautiful and he helped my confidence more than he will ever know. I was still not leaving the house without makeup on though and kept it on as long as possible each day.
Things began to really change in my relationship with makeup, when I started my first full-time job. I did not have a choice, short of waking up a 3:30am each morning, as it took me 2 hours to get ready completely each day and I started work at 6am, than to go to work almost makeup free. I still put a bit of mascara on and covered up any spots I had.
I cannot describe how scary it was for the first couple of months being bare-faced out in public, dealing with customers and seeing hundreds of people each day at my job. I felt as though everyone was staring at me, thought they would think I looked horrible and hate me and look down at me because of it.
This wasn’t what happened. People saw me as me. The makeup wasn’t what made me who I was, it was my personality and what I did each day that people saw. I still wore a little bit of mascara each day but that was more of a personal choice than a hiding behind a mask choice. I wore my makeup on special occasions and on days out and it really helped to change my relationship with makeup.
I work in a completely different job now and do wear makeup on a daily basis whilst working but again it is a personal choice and not a thing I do to hide away and blend in. I wear makeup on special occasions but I’m also very happy to go out without it.
This doesn’t mean I always have good days though. When face masks were made compulsory in the UK I was distraught, but not for the reason you are thinking. I was so glad that masks had been made compulsory to protect my colleagues, customers and myself and I cannot stress enough how much I support the use of face masks during the pandemic. However, I was terrified about what wearing a mask for 8 hours a day would do to the makeup I spent hours on. I worried about how I would take my mask off after work and find the bottom half of my face had rubbed off into my mask.
I had a few days of crying and worrying about this and I didn’t know what to do. I ended up adding a number of steps to my makeup routine to increase the durability of my makeup. Setting spray became a staple for me that I carried everywhere. I had a bad time with my makeup and masks for a while but now I am getting used to the fact that somedays I will come home with the makeup on my nose rubbed off. I have even started finding it funny that sometimes my mask makes my nose and chin turn black.
My relationship with makeup has completely changed from the age of 13 to the age of 23. Now, I wear makeup for fun. Yes, it does help my confidence but I feel like me when I have my makeup on and I feel like me without my makeup on.
I wear my makeup to feel good about myself but also because I quite honestly love doing it now. It gives me a routine, it gets me out of bed in a morning when I’m working and I feel happier for doing it. In the past I would do it for other people. I’d do it to ensure I wasn’t bullied and to draw attention away from myself. Now, I do my makeup for myself and to enhance my personality and individuality rather than to hide it and I love it. I am happy to go out the house without makeup on, let my friends see me without makeup and even laugh about the fact I have no eyebrows because I plucked them too much in high school.
I’m beyond proud of myself and where I’ve come with my relationship with makeup. It started as a barrier to block the real me from other people but now it is me. I wear it for fun, but I also give myself the chance to love my face without makeup. I’ve learnt that I am beautiful with or without it, and that the people who matter in my life see that too. This has been a huge step for me and the single biggest change in my relationship with makeup .
Yes, I still struggle with my confidence if I’m not wearing makeup from time to time. Sometimes I really do not want to leave the house without makeup on. I want to hide behind a barrier of makeup and if I’m honest I’m still terrified that I will get bullied for how I look. But, I’ve come such a long way from the Lois I was at 13 to the Lois I am now at 23. This post has been on my mind for the past couple of years but I was never ready to discuss it. I finally feel as though I can talk about it and I’m so proud of myself for that.
Of course sometimes I will have bad days with my relationship with makeup other days I will not. One thing I know for sure, I am who I am and I cannot change that for anyone. I am beautiful with or without makeup, I am loved and have incredible friends. I am sure there will be ups and downs in my relationship with makeup for years to come but I finally feel like my relationship with makeup is healthy and beneficial to me and my life.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time. I know that it isn’t just me who has an up and down relationship with makeup. Very rarely though do I see people talking about this. If I had a post like this when I was in my teens I am sure it would have helped me so much. So, not only is this post for myself but it is for anyone out there who is experiencing or has experienced a similar relationship with makeup. You are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!