Yesterday, my husband looked over at me and told me what every girl wants to hear: “You know what? You’re beautiful.”
I looked in the mirror – and everything I’d ever been taught during my life, as a girl, as a woman, emerged from the dark depths of my subconscious, whispering into my brain, "no you don’t."
I was normal, natural, non-made-up. And we’ve all been taught for a very long time that’s not ok.
I certainly didn’t feel beautiful. I was wearing my hair in a frizzy pony and my skin was far from flawless in its bare, ruddish state. I was wearing trackies and an old The Who T-shirt emblazoned with ‘My Generation’.
But here’s the thing about my generation: I think we wear far too much makeup. And we’re all the worse for it.
Maybe we could blame Kim K for the kurse of kontouring, or perhaps more recently Kylie Jenner. Maybe we could blame social media pressures that keep us self-analysing to the point of self-hate, until we finally give up and use the dog filter.
Or maybe we could just blame ourselves for thinking that everyone’s looking at us all the time. Or that being ‘hot’ somehow makes us a better person.
I’m so overwhelmingly tired with the world’s obsession with women splattering shit on their face in order to accentuate their ‘best self’. Why isn’t our best self – our normal self – good enough? And why do only women have to do this?
Aren’t we all too busy to worry about what strangers think of us? You know, with all those jobs and kids and the thinking and things.
Why are women expected to alter their appearance, but men aren’t judged for a stray pimple or a developing wrinkle? My husband is classified as ‘distinguished’ now that he’s starting to see greys peppering his hair. But I’m just old and haggard. I’m expected to cover up any sign of ageing, hide it with every inch of my being, lest I forget that I’m no longer fuckable.
Who the hell judges a woman based on the amount of makeup she wears anyway? I don’t want to know those people. I don’t need them in my life. I’m super busy letting my beard grow out anyway.
Back in the days when I used to date, my favourite rule was to go on every first date with no makeup. Firstly, because I’m clearly masochistic, and secondly, because I felt like it was a delightful social experiment. How would this new man react to me, bare faced and not-at-my-best?
Would he care? And if he did, would I care that he cared? And if I did care that he cared, should I?
I showed up to my first date with my husband in no makeup, a top bun and a dress I had dubbed “my sack dress” (it had more room for my imminent burrito belly). And hey, I think I did alright. He didn’t appear to immediately vomit at the sight of my face, or run away screaming, or anything.
I have, on the other hand, dated many-a-guy who expected me to wear makeup and some who commented repeatedly when I didn’t. Let’s call them “assholes.”
Mostly my reply was “when you wear mascara, I’ll wear mascara.” That goes for Brazilians too. However, that did backfire once, when one of them held me to my promise after proudly displaying his newly-waxed bits.
None of them did take me up on the mascara thing, though – which I’m going to take to mean that they thought shoving black tar in your eye is more painful than a Brazilian. Probably true.
Let’s all be honest here: we all look good with (good) makeup. I can’t deny that some mornings I don’t look at myself in the mirror and think “wait, when did that haggard old mole from next door sneak into my bathroom and climb into the mirror?”
But then I remember that I’m lazy and I’d rather just wear dark sunglasses at my desk. Maybe that’s why my workmates staged a surprise intervention.
So, if you’re a kick-ass bitch who doesn’t need societal acceptance to justify her existence, skip the hour of bullshit. You’ve got more important things to do.
And if you’re looking for a man to be your lifelong partner, skip it for your first date too. At least you know he’ll find you sexy no matter what.
Yep, he’ll even love you when you turn over every morning with morning breath, your fringe plastered to your forehead and a crusty eye peeking at him from behind un-mascara-laden lashes. I have proof.
Plus, your pillowcases will always stay white. So it’s a win-win really.
Follow Bianca’s hideous makeup-free feed at @_thesecondrow
Illustration by Twylamae.