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MC’s naked reality

For most of my life, I’ve had a love affair with make-up. Like most women, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time and money selecting, buying, and smearing goop of various kinds all over my face before letting myself go out in public.

If you’re going for the full monty of make-up, you’ve got mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, eyebrow pencil, foundation, concealer, blush, powder, lip liner, lipstick and a top coat of gloss. Most women, at a minimum, throw on mascara, concealer and lipstick before heading out any door, especially if she’s going to an office or on a date.

My love affair with make-up ended though, about the same time that I left my ex-husband. When I divorced, as happens with many people, I was left with the detritus of everything I didn’t like about myself or the woman I’d become in the course of an unhappy marriage.

I wanted, like most divorcees I know, to become a woman whose face I could look at in the mirror again without feeling sick to my stomach.

For me, part of that navel-gazing involved considering whether I ever wanted to wear make-up again. I’d long railed against the asinine industry that tells women that our natural faces are not good enough. I’d long questioned whether a man would ask me out if he met me when I wasn’t wearing make-up. I’d long battled with my feminist self that found it self-negating to put paint on my face just so I could face the world.

Women, when was the last time you went out in public or on a first date or on an anniversary date with your husband or to your child’s graduation without a stitch of make-up on? Men, when was the last time you found yourself sexually attracted to a woman you didn’t already know who didn’t have a stitch of make-up on? Employers, really, honest now, would you hire a woman who didn’t wear a stitch of make-up? I’ve been in the work force long enough to know employers of both sexes tend to reject out of hand a woman who doesn’t have her professional face “on.”

A woman’s un-made-up face is plain – just like a guy’s. Fraught with fatigue, skin flaws, a bit bland. So woman try to be like the animal kingdom and give ourselves that colorful flourish that will ensure suitors will see us and be attracted enough to give us what we want – whether the suitor we seek is a lover, a father for our children, good service at a pricey salon, an employer, a good rate on the mortgage we’re applying for. We want to look “professional,” “sexy,” but most of all “acceptable” through make-up.

When I think about what I’m doing, what I’m saying to the world and to myself when I put on make-up, I feel sick and compromised. I feel deceptive on one hand and pissed off on the other.

Look, I’m smart enough to know that probably 99% of the men in my life who have asked me out would not have asked me out if the first time they’d met me I didn’t have make-up on. I know no employer who would have hired me for the jobs I’ve had, if I’d shown up without a professional “face”. Make-up legitimizes a woman.

But when I put on make-up, I’m as fake as a three-dollar bill. How could I not be?

I wonder how much money I’d have in the bank if I hadn’t spent all those years covering up my real face so that my fake face would be accepted … by employers, by strangers, by cashiers, by friends, by dates, by myself.

Despite all this, I’m 99% certain I won’t be changing my make-up deception anytime soon.

I’m known to the world one way and I don’t trust that world enough to think it would accept me, love me, or give me jobs if I didn’t look “done” through make-up. Or maybe I just don’t trust myself enough.

Look, I’m under no illusions about what matters in the world. Or about what aspects of myself have the highest currency value in this world. I know I have value as a writer, but still, you’d be surprised at the number of people — men and women — who show up at my signings and tell me without a trace of self-consciousness, that they came simply to see “whether you look as young as your column photo makes you look.” (The answer, to save anyone else the trouble, is — hell, no!)

Women’s looks are very often their primary currency in this world that is obsessed with youth and beauty, just like men’s wallets and careers are very often their primary currency in a world that is equally obsessed with money and outward appearance of success.

I’ll probably play the make-up game until I die. And the make-up I’m wearing on top of my skin will always, always, always, needle me underneath my skin.

For now – here’s a first, and likely last, look at myself without make-up. Call it Portrait of My Naked Reality!

My Naked Reality

My Naked Reality

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Posted on May 2nd, 2009Comments RSS Feed
5 Responses to MC’s naked reality
  1. John W. Perkins
    May 2, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Lookin’ good, babe…

    Reply
  2. Stick to what you truly believe MC and don’t compromise.Screw the makeup and all the BS that goes along with it.If a guy doesn’t like you without makeup then obviously he is not worth it.

    Reply
  3. John W. Perkins
    May 4, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Like what Steve said…

    Reply
  4. Make up is what it is. Another tool to look more “presentable” to the public. You don’t have to worry about looking drab without make up though.

    Reply
  5. I never have believed that makeup added to beauty. Have fun, everyday!

    Reply

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