We were gathered around a table in the cafeteria my freshman year of college when the comment was made. “Yesterday in the dorm I saw this girl whose foundation was super blotchy and streaked. Her mom must not have been a very good mother.” Laughter scattered around the table. I glanced down and caught my reflection in my spoon. My makeup wasn’t perfect. There was an evident streak or two. My mother had never taught me how to put on makeup; she hardly wore any herself. Did that make her a bad mother?
When I was younger, my mother refused to let me wear makeup. She told me I was pretty without and that it would only clog my pores. I complained like the average 10 year old. She relented and allowed me to wear lip gloss. I was satisfied, for about a month and then the whining started back up. She relented again and I was allowed to wear eye shadow. My satisfaction was temporary. This time, however, she did not relent when I started grumbling. I was stuck with only wearing lip gloss and eye shadow. Upset that I wasn’t allowed to wear more makeup, but enthusiastic about the makeup I was allowed to wear, I applied all the bright colors I could. I walked around all through fifth and sixth grade with eye makeup that rivaled that of Mimi from The Drew Carey Show.
At some point during junior high I came to the realization that blue eye shadow wasn’t for me, but my desire for makeup continued. Every chance I got I would make a snide comment about my mother not allowing me to wear makeup. She still wouldn’t budge and kept telling me that I was beautiful without it. High school came around and there was hardly a girl in my grade who didn’t come to school with makeup plastered all over her face. I felt left behind and out of place, still unable to grasp the concept my mother was trying to impress upon me.
My freshman year of high school I attended a band competition and we stopped at a mall on the way home. Seeing my chance, I bought a thing of foundation with the money my mom had given me for dinner. My stomach growled the whole way home from the lack of dinner, but to me it was worth. I finally had makeup and there was nothing my mother could do about it. The next Monday, I eagerly applied the makeup, ready to go to school and finally fit in. I stayed in my room until the bus came so my mother wouldn’t notice my makeup.
I thought things would be dramatically different for me, but they weren’t. No one noticed I was wearing makeup, or if they did, they didn’t say anything. No one complimented me saying I gotten so much prettier over the weekend. No one seemed to care. So I bought more makeup the next chance I got, but the same thing occurred. Time and time again I would buy makeup, but I was never satisfied. Occasionally someone would comment on my makeup, but it never had the effect I anticipated. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I had a realization. While I may have had makeup on, underneath I was still the same person and makeup had nothing to do with being me. Finally my mother’s lesson had sunk in; makeup doesn’t make someone beautiful, it’s the person on the inside radiating through that creates beauty.
I never gave up makeup all together. I still wear it on occasion. But I don’t need it to feel comfortable or confident. So while some girls can’t leave their room without makeup on, I go days without wearing any. While some women get up early just to put makeup on before their husbands wake up, I can go for coffee with my boyfriend without a drop of makeup on and not feel self-conscious. My mom was not a bad mother for not teaching me how to apply makeup, she probably a better mother because of it.