Make-up and Men

The ex always had it in for make-up for some reason, forever claiming that: “You look beautiful without it, so why do you need it?” I tried to explain that it was because I liked the colours, and the ability to reinvent myself, but usually fell on deaf ears.

His list of dislikes, or rather “I don’t prefer” [sic], was rather long: I think make-up is unnecessary, and natural beauty is better; why straighten your hair when you have such lovely curls; wear something apart from jeans and tee. It has become your uniform, and you would look so good in other clothes too; would you consider putting flowers in your hair; and so on.

To be fair to him, he did provide a tremendous boost to my confidence, by telling me constantly that I was beautiful. [I paraphrase, because his versions were usually long, adjective-ridden, and hyperbolic. I’m too embarrassed to reproduce them.] But honestly, after the first flush of attraction was over, what difference did it make what I looked like?

He had no problem with me being overweight, although he did encourage me to become healthier overall. He had no problem with the normal exigencies of every day life: sweat, period stains, grimy hands, food-stained clothes, etc. His time spent in a naval academy really inured him to all of it, except: make-up.

So I toned it down considerably. Let’s say it was a happily conceded compromise, because there was all the other stuff to weigh against. It was a small thing to do. I went from full eye make-up to a liner and mascara. Dark lipsticks to glosses and balms. Very rarely did I do anything to my scraggly hair. And he was happy. Fair enough.

But after we split up, the status quo changed. I could do whatever I wanted to do, without wondering if he liked it or not. [I still did for months, but I imagine that’s natural.] And I got back to my rather flamboyant former style; not completely, because my taste evolved a bit.

And then I got back into the dating scene. And my friends noticed the change.

Dear lord.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve asked me why I apply make-up at all. It is such a bizarre question, because it is so normal, so pedestrian a thing to do for me. I have been tempted on several occasions to retort with: “Why do you comb your hair? Or what made you pick that shirt over a sack today?” but I refrain because sarcasm is hardly ever recognised as such.

And my friends. Good grief.

The remarks have had range, I’ll admit. Since none of these boys are remotely romantically interested [THANK THE HEAVENS!] in me, they don’t quite see me as a girl, but as a vaguely girlish approximation of a ‘bro’. Which results in annoying exclamations:

– “Why are you looking weird today?!”
– “Why do you have weird shit on your face?”
– “Are you unwell?”
– “You don’t actually need lipstick, you know. Makes you look like a girl.” [*facepalm*]
– “Oh God. You look like a girl today. Yuck.”


And in the last 10 days, I found myself explaining to 3 different men, why I use make-up: BECAUSE I LIKE IT!


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