I found a money back guarantee on a beauty cream. Rushed down to the store. They took one look at me and paid me in advance.
Phyllis Diller, stand-up routine, 1978
â€œItâ€™s easy to see why you wear makeup. You just werenâ€™t born a natural beauty like your sister and me.â€ Mom loved to appraise and to hurt. Over my formative years I heard I was too fat, that my hair looked like a horseâ€™s tail, and that it was doubtful any man would ever find me appealing.
The silver lining? Being Â unbeautiful meant I didnâ€™t have the cultural equity to use my looks to get ahead. It was rather freeing. Somewhat painful, but freeing.
My worth in the family came from doing chores, getting good grades, and being reasonably well behaved. Since the bar was set lower for me, I could experiment with clothes and makeup. Who could blame me for expressing myself in unconventional ways?Â Â I was supposedly desperate, right?
I think women who choose to wear makeup are beautiful. I think women who choose not to wear makeup are beautiful. I think women who color their hair, get Botoxâ€”or notâ€”wear umpteen bracelets, wear no jewelry, dress age appropriately or not, are beautiful. I think choice is beautiful, and that is what I celebrate.
My beloved husband often tells me to skip wearing makeup because he finds me sexy and lovely au natural.Â Â I always smile and nod and then put on makeup. It’s not about what he wants; it’s what gives me confidence. Makeup and clothing allow me to be the woman I feel like being on any given day. Cat eyes? Sure! A swipe of â€œkiss meâ€ red lipstick? Heck yea. A retro bullet bra? Why not? I love a femme fatale aura as much as a country hick aura.
It’s not about feeling “less than” at all. On the contrary, I feel empowered because I’m responding to my whims. It’s like I get to play, invent, and create my own mysteries. But, even so, there are times I hear Momâ€™s voice and Iâ€™m not sure how to cover my middle-aged ears.
For example, the other day my husbandâ€™s vehicle was in the shop for repairs. He took my car, which meant I was stranded at home for the day. I thought it would be a good time to nourish my skin, so I put on moisturizer, lip conditioner, and a tiny bit of taupe eye shadow. Then I got into the tasks of the day while completely forgetting about my outer appearance.
When my husband arrived home that evening, I warmly greeted him at the door. He took one look at me and said, “Are you feeling okay?”
I was confused until I thought about it for a moment. â€œMy eyes are tired because Iâ€™ve been on the computer all day, but I feel great.â€
He stared at me for a short while longer. â€œYou just donâ€™t lookâ€¦good. Maybe itâ€™s because youâ€™re not wearing much makeup.â€
Thatâ€™s when I heard Mom and felt myself flinch. Â “Oh yeah,” I thought. Â “I’m not a natural beauty.”
But the funny thing is I never even considered â€œfixingâ€ myself. I hugged my husband, who loves me even though he says things that come out terribly wrong. My skin was soft, my lips moist, and I felt at peace with my choices.