beauty

'After giving birth, my ex partner told me to put makeup on. It was a turning point.'

I'm 30 years old and I'm only just learning to do things for me. To embrace my true and raw self. To have confidence in my bare, makeup-free face. But it's been a journey - and one that hasn't come without its challenges.

To give you a bit of a background, I'll start at the very beginning with 15-year-old me, excitedly going with my mum to the Napoleon Perdis makeup counter at David Jones.

Foundation, mascara, eyeliner - I ended up walking away with the whole kit and kaboodle. It was here that the catchy tagline “not to prime is a crime” was drilled into me.

Although makeup wasn’t allowed at school, it didn’t stop me from wearing a smidge of foundation and a lick of mascara. It was the norm, and we all know how brutal school can be when there is a “norm”. 

Watch: Are celebrities that go makeup-free "brave?" Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

Makeup quickly became a crutch that was directly linked to my confidence; a way to hide the adolescent breakouts and to be “one of them” - one of the cool girls who broke the rules and wore makeup to school.

The mentality that I had to wear makeup every day so I could feel confident to face the world was something that stuck with me right up until my mid-20s, until I became a mum to a baby girl. 

It was then I realised that I didn’t want my daughter growing up with the same toxic thoughts I had about myself and knew I had to change. 

It wasn’t easy, considering I had body issues growing up, combined with the unfamiliarity of my body post-baby - but I forged through. 

Slowly, I began to feel comfortable in my own skin and felt confident enough to embrace my bare face.

But as this transformation and shift in my mind began happening, I was battling with a new demon. I was being told by my partner - someone who should’ve supported me - that I had to wear makeup for activities as simple as a walk around the block or the grocery run. 

I was told that I had to dress up for even the most insignificant things because it reflected on him. I was told my bare face wasn’t good enough. That I wasn't good enough. At that moment I could feel myself losing the incredible mental battle I had been fighting for years. 

All the work I had done to get to that point was slowly evaporating. My body, once again, felt foreign to me. Once again, I felt I needed makeup in order to be seen. In order to be accepted.

The seed that was planted saw me pack my makeup kit (I’m talking the full kit, not just BB cream) into my hospital bag when I was expecting my second baby. A part of me didn’t want to take it with me, but I took it “just in case”. 

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As it turns out, that “just in case” scenario was me being told by my partner, 36 hours after giving birth (via emergency c-section, no less), that I should get dressed up and put makeup on for the visitors that were coming to see the baby and me.

Drugged up on all the painkillers I was allowed to take, I dragged myself out of bed (which was a feat in itself) that second morning and got dressed in the only thing that was comfortable, which included nothing that was deemed “presentable”. 

Hunched over in agonising pain, I leant on the tiny hospital bathroom vanity and put my makeup on haphazardly, hoping it was enough to look somewhat 'put together' for my partner.

Looking back at that day in the hospital, makeup was no longer just a crutch that I leant on personally, but it was also something I felt external pressure to have to do - and from someone who should’ve been happy with me bare face and all, no less. 

I felt the pressure to put my face so I wouldn't embarrass my partner. I felt the pressure to dress up for a walk around the block or to the grocery store because I had to look a certain way in order for my partner to be happy. And even when I put myself together, I was constantly open to critique.

My wake-up call was when my daughter very innocently told me she needed to put makeup on to be beautiful. My heart broke - she was three when she told me this.

I immediately sat her down and told her how mummy only wore makeup sometimes and I did it because it was fun and I liked it, not because I wasn’t beautiful without it. And slowly, day by day, I grew to believe what I told my daughter myself.

It has been a windy and difficult road to accept my makeup-free face, peppered with additional hurdles I did not expect to encounter. I have always dressed for myself and in what I feel comfortable in - even when I had a literal voice telling me to change certain things, a strong part of me resisted it.

As women we might dress differently when we go out with our girls versus when we go out on a date, but ultimately, we dress for ourselves. 

I have always dressed so I felt good and for me - and makeup, or no makeup, is an extension of that. 

In my younger days, I missed that memo but now I believe this with every fibre of my being – what I put on my face is for me, not for anyone else.

If you'd like to hear more from Maggie, follow her on Instagram.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

Feature image: Instagram/@the.inked.mama

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