The First Time I Considered My Mask of Makeup

There are only a handful of people who have ever seen me without any make-up on. I don’t like myself without at least eye liner on. I was planning to meet up with a friend the other day and we were trying to establish what time to meet and I joked about needing enough time to ‘put on my face’…

That got me thinking.


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What did I mean ‘I needed to put on my face’? My face is already on, what I should have been saying was, I need enough time to put on my mask. I honestly feel unable to venture out of my home without some sort of mask on, because really it is a layer of something (anything) that conceals me partially from the world. I feel naked without my trusty mascara and eyeliner on.

I can’t bear people looking at me (scrutinising me) if I have nothing disguising the flaws that are so glaringly obvious to me. It freaks me out writing this, because it is something I have been aware of for years, but as much as I can rationlise it and convince myself that I am beautiful just the way I am, I simply cannot put it into practice. If I do manage to get myself out of the door without so much as last nights smudged eyeliner on my face then the moment someone looks at me, or, (heaven forbid), I have to engage (in any way) with a semi-good looking guy then I just want to disappear. I want to suddenly evaporate into the air and for the entire ordeal to be erased. It feels as though there is a neon light above me advertising the fact that I dared to enter the public arena without at least trying to make myself more presentable to the world.

I feel ugly without makeup on.

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Elizabeth Hurley once said that she realised she looked better with make-up on – so she was going to wear it, no matter what anyone thought. I read that when I was about 13 and it resonated with me. I knew that I looked better with make-up on. Not layer upon layer of concealer and eye shadow, but some carefully placed make up just accentuated my eyes and made me look less like a pasty milk maid and more like a pale mermaid. I felt more confident with make up on and started to get noticed by boys (which sadly gave me confirmation that this is what was required of me in order to get the guy). After 10 years of wearing make up it is as if the de-masked person who emerges from the shower is not me, it is a freakish version of the person I have spent so many years grooming and through a tedious process of trial and error discovered just the right amount of make-up to wear to make it seem as though I am hardly wearing anything at all. As though the face that walks into the office in the morning is the same face that rolled out of the bed in the morning. Like the soap opera princess’s who wake up from a decade long coma looking as though they had just walked down the red carpet.

I have no inclination to reveal my carefully concealed flaws to the world. I am not strong enough to face the music. The lyrics would read something like this:


She looks like that?

I had no idea…what a disappointment

I thought she was really pretty – but that, well…it’s just not the person I thought I knew

That’s unfair, she tricked me, all this time.

I was relating to this mask and not the real person.

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But what if the mask is also me? This mask is the person I feel like inside, the person who I want the world to see. The mask has become an extension of me and the girl who takes the mask off is a girl who is too vulnerable to be seen by just anyone.

Only the truly trusted are allowed to glimpse her.

4 thoughts on “The First Time I Considered My Mask of Makeup

  1. I also think I look better with makeup than without, but since I’m not willing to forgo my last 5 minutes of sleep for it, I hardly ever wear it. My lip-gloss lasts more than a year and I’m pretty sure there’s funny bacteria growing in my eyeshadow – note to self, replace eye shadow. Besides the sleep, I love it when I put make-up on for the first time after 2 months and my eyes seem to ‘pop’, my cheeks all perky and colourful and my lips speak volumes. As much as I love the prettier me, I just wasn’t cut out to put make-up on or fuss about my hair everyday. I love the freedom of being able to get out the shower, dress and be out without having to look in the mirror (i have dreadlocks so a hand through my hair is all it takes to sort it out).
    My naked face is how I want the world to see me. Your made-up face is how you want the world to see you, nothing at all wrong with that.
    You do realise that permanent make-up can sort out that not-so-pretty chick you find in your room when you wake up, right? Enjoy your mask, it is a part of your authentic self.


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