"It's 2020 and I have no idea what I'm meant to do about my face."

Lately, I’ve been wondering what to do about my face.

I took a new job last year, and I’ve noticed that women at my current job wear much more makeup than women at my last job. Every morning, Monday through Friday, my colleagues are waking up at 5am to begin the arduous transformation process.

Pale lashes are obfuscated under black extensions, thinning lips are inflated by the peaks and valleys drawn on with cranberry-coloured lipliner, blotchy cheeks are slathered with layers of primer and concealer cover-up and highlighter. The jawline is made visible, delineated from the neck by a bright orange perimeter, like a fence.

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It’s called “putting on your face,” and it’s something I’ve done, in varying levels of clownishness, since early adolescence. To have a painted face nowadays has become an aesthetic talisman of wellness. If our “faces” are not on, it is because we are sick or because our kids are sick or because there was an emergency.

In that way, making ourselves up daily is an indicator of unwavering normalcy.

Seeing someone without their “face” is often jarring to me. Acne scars are suddenly uncovered, never-before-seen discolouration rises to the surface of the skin, and eyebrows disappear. I watch this happen to my own face every evening in the mirror, as a makeup remover slides down my cheeks and erases the intentional mask, line by line.

My family lineage dictates that I won’t ever be beautiful, yet, by seeking Botox for my “11” lines and semi-permanent dye for my eyelashes, I am at least making an effort to keep up, to make the statement to anyone watching and listening that I’m trying my best to be good looking, and, so, shouldn’t that count for something?

Could receiving an “E for Effort” make me just a little bit hotter?


I’ve had body dysphoria regarding my face for so long, I’m not able to differentiate memories of perceived flaws from actual flaws. This is why I set myself boundaries around beauty, procedures and purchases.

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For example, I won’t go to Sephora and have a beautician make me over because I know I will fall instantly — and irrevocably — in love with the smooth, painted version of my reflection, and that when she is gone, soaked into makeup remover pads and nubby washcloths, I will miss her.

I will not go for a consultation for submandibular liposuction, a procedure to remove the fat that causes my double chin, because it will be all too easy to hand the credit card with the $18,000 limit over to the receptionist and schedule the soonest available appointment.

I will, however, continue to Google ‘before’ and after’ photos of individuals who have undergone the procedure as a way to stoke my fantasy of a taut jawline in profile.

The thing is — I get why I am like this and how I became this way. I am not stupid, and am utterly and consistently aware of the brainwashing I have been subjected to.

Not just by the omnipresent media — a magazine I was once flipping through while waiting for my manicurist to become available asked me if my toothbrush was sexy enough — but by my mother, and her mother, and my peers, and the nurse at the clinic where I get my orthopedic care who complained of her large pores.

We are all in love with our future selves. Not who we could be — nah, that’s the hard internal shit for which no amount of money is enough to camouflage — but what we might look like, given the perfect regimen a of serum and brightening cream.

I could ask my therapist about the cause of this life-long body dysmorphia, about my tendency to transform my depression into self-loathing or how my mother’s eating disorder affected my own body image. But I wont, because, instead, I will ask the easier question with the uncomplicated solution:

What can I, what should I, what will I do about my face?

Feature Image: Supplied.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been published here with full permission. For more from Rachel Inberg, visit

How do you feel about your relationship with beauty and your own face? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!