Okay, so maybe I’m an ageing hippy. But walking around a CBD filled with professional women, I want to stop them in their tracks and say, ‘Ladies, you have been conned. Laying stuff on your face with a trowel doesn’t make you look any better.’
It might have something to do with coming back from a holiday at the beach, where the only thing anyone seems to wear on their face is sunscreen and a dash of lip-gloss. But I can’t help noticing that I am one of the few women I see who doesn’t slather some type of cosmetic product on their faces.
I never have. The day I got married, a smudge of eyeliner was all the make-up I wore. More than thirty years later, I have graduated to occasional lippy, but eyeliner is basically the only thing in my make-up kit.
Heavy war paint on the face seems to be becoming more commonplace, more the norm. Women at the races are notorious for it. It’s certainly in evidence on the vast majority of the suited corporate types in the city. Increasingly, I see a thick layer of makeup on the fresh faces of schoolgirls on the train. It seems most females won’t step out of the house without it.
What mystifies me is that in most cases, it doesn’t actually improve a woman’s looks. If she is gorgeous, if she has flawless skin, she doesn’t need it. If she is suffering with an outbreak of zits, it really doesn’t hide them. If she is starting to be wrinkly, like me, it looks kind of sad. If she is seriously old, it looks grotesque, like poly filla.
My gaze is drawn to women who buck the trend and don’t wear makeup. I find it soothing, reassuring, a rest to the eyes, a balm to the soul.
Maybe I’m getting a bit carried away there. But I do wonder why it is that women from the ages of 12 to 92, with every degree of perceived physical beauty, seem to feel the need to put so much stuff on their skin. And it is so much – we’re not talking the quick pat of face powder my mother used to whack on before she went out. It is layers and layers of sticky, suffocating goop.
People tell me it’s a matter of confidence. Having a bad day? Pop on some make up and you’ll feel better able to go out and tackle the world. Well, I have problems with this for a couple of simple reasons. Men don’t feel the need to do it, so I suspect that there’s something deeply misogynistic about the prevalence of excessive make-up use among women. And someone, somewhere is making a truckload of money from cosmetics. Our insecurity is funding somebody else’s lavish lifestyle.
Why is the female of the species so driven with self-doubt, in some cases maybe even self-loathing, that she feels people will only accept her if she doesn’t look like herself? And is there some way that we can change this state of affairs?
Maybe we can make a little start by deciding to minimize or even – shock, horror – quit putting a lot of make up on our poor old faces. Maybe we can start by being brave enough to let our confidence come from something more real than a layer of overpriced gunk that really doesn’t deliver on its promises.
Clare Boyd-Macrae lives in Melbourne with her husband and the last of their four kids, has a day job in admin and event management and writes madly the rest of the time. She blogs here.
How much make-up do you wear?