Makeup is a woman’s right not a gender privilege.

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Applying makeup is more than just a fashion trend it’s part of being a woman. For far too long women who love makeup have been labelled as superficial and by a fanatical few as dissolute. As a girl I grew up with a mother who shied away from makeup and was the ultimate ‘au naturale’. A devout catholic prayer warrior she was more like a nun than a woman of the world.
I on the other hand loved to paint my nails, face, dolls and once even attempted to beautify a calf in my granny’s farm! My mother unlike all the other religious stoics who tend to shame girls like me, encouraged me saying, “If you’re gonna paint yourself try to do it right!’
Yes, my mother had an extremely unique modus, a sincere matter of fact style that didn’t involve any sugar coated nonsense. For me she was the ultimate woman, she did whatever she liked out of choice, no fear propaganda or social norms that she felt obliged to adhere to. There was only one person to please and that was God, if her actions would shame her in front of her creator then that was all the deterrent she needed.
Which isn’t to say she wasn’t flawed, a lot more than others because she was transparent, she never felt the need to hide or pretend and so was always pointed at. A great learning model for me because it taught me that there is no pleasing anyone and there is only one who truly matters and he is on my side. Armed with that knowledge and conviction I can proudly inform you that I have battled some of the worst traumas one can possibly face in life and you know what? I’m still standing strong, bat ready to face whatever life can possibly throw at me and I do it in style! Fingernails painted and makeup on, I am ready.
So you have a colicky baby that doesn’t let you sleep through the night, an illness that drains the colour out of your face, personal crisis that makes you crawl into a corner and bawl your eyes out, who says you need to look the part. I know I don’t and if you want to it’s ok, I respect that.
I grew up loathing pity; I hated if anyone felt sorry for me, and did all I could to look strong and confidant even if I was falling apart inside. Makeup empowers me, I may not be able to make my baby sleep through the night but I can sure hide those dark circles. Life doesn’t have to win all the rounds.
According to research people have been painting themselves since the beginning of time, it’s a way of establishing control and reinforcing one’s identity. No wonder the first thing most religious dictatorships do is to ban cosmetics. Strip a woman of her right to celebrate her individuality and establish her identity and you have a broken, lost soul ready for manipulation. Allow only women in the sex trade access to cosmetics and you subconsciously reinforce the idea that a woman’s beauty is only for male pleasure.
A research by Dr. Richard Russell, a psychology professor at Gettysburg College, sates that the only way a face gets classified as male or female is by facial contrasts. Women tend to have lighter skin, darker eyes and lips than men. No wonder that the basic elements of makeup consists of foundation, mascara and lipstick. All we are trying to do is stress our identity, we are female and we are beautiful.
For all the opponents of cosmetics I ask, “Who are you?” 9 times out of 10 we all reply with reference to our gender. This is who I am, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a writer. I don’t love makeup or fashion but they are an integral part of my life, I brush my teeth and I apply make up. I am a woman, why shouldn’t I do what I want and look how I feel inside, which is beautiful? There are days when I want to look plain and ordinary, and many, many more days when I want to look gorgeous, why shouldn’t I?

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Is it superficial to enhance your feminine attributes? Do you do courses to enhance your trade? Do you eat right and exercise to look fit and healthy? Do you dress well because you feel good about it? Do you get a haircut and groom yourself to look polished? Most importantly do you smile when you look at a beautiful person? I do and I like to be that beautiful person too.

 

Perfection is Ugly!

You knew
You knew (Photo credit: James Broad)

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No, that’s not a typo, it reads exactly as it should. Beauty is imperfect, natural and spontaneous; everything else is just the opposite. Perfection comes out of an assembly line from a lifeless machine, each product exactly like it’s predecessor. A masterpiece is unique, has soul, its flaws make it even more valuable and it doesn’t get better than a human being.
Show me anyone and I can point out a million faults but what always intrigues me are the quirks. As a writer I am always seeking out the nuances that distinguish a character, my heroes are always the least brave and the dysfunctional. The only common trait they have is the willingness to learn from their mistakes.
It was probably a self-absorbed writer who remarked that creative people are like God, breathing life into ideas and colours. As lofty as the comment is you can’t deny that artists share the mindset of God. We celebrate the flawed, the broken, the lonely, the meek and the humble. There is always so much depth in the songs of the broken hearted and the mirth of a man well versed with misfortune is heart warming, not to mention inspiring.
So what’s with the fascination with perfection that has got the world all twisted? Why does beautiful only mean flawless? When did our definitions get so limited and shallow? Why should handsome only mean muscles and a defined jawline? When did acne which meant that you are now officially a teenager, become a symbol of shame? Freckles used to mean cute but now a concealer promises to hide it. People on the heavier side used to be known as jolly and large hearted, today even Santa is a size zero. When did we get so insecure that being natural meant foundation, lip-gloss and mascara?
The human mind and heart are instinctively tuned to beauty, the real kind. All the bright colours, the glossy lips, the darkened eyebrows and the bronzed cheekbones are so perfect that after a while they begin to look ugly. Have you ever had a friend who always wore glasses and then switched to contacts? Do you remember seeing them for the first time and remarking that they looked different and that you liked them better with spectacles? I have two beautiful little angels and they love to play with my makeup, they climb on chairs, reach for my lipstick, colour themselves silly and then run to me asking, pretty?
No, a compassionate heart, a genuine smile, a hearty laugh, kind words straight from the heart, soulful eyes; these are the things that are pretty and warm my soul. Masking all that with paint in a bid to be perfect is what kills the human spirit. I am not against makeup, in fact I love to experiment but I can step out with out any on and not feel uncomfortable. I apply makeup because I like it and not because I am defined by it. It saddens me that there are some women who are uncomfortable in their own skin. Who told them that they are not beautiful or that beauty only means looking perfect, all the time, and every time? Like a wise person once said, you maybe one among a million but for that special someone you are one in a million. That person will find you beautiful even when your hair goes grey and wrinkles cover you entirely, because beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. Try to remember that when you look into the mirror next time.

Beauty, is it really in the eyes of the beholder?

As I step onto my bathroom scale, exhale and tense up for, I dunno, the 1000th time, it hits me. I’m obsessed with my weight; yeah it’s a no brainer, more so for the acknowledgment of it than the actual fact.

You see, I am this aged wild child who believes in the individual, an ardent admirer of the human spirit and this obsession is a crack in the wall. As a connoisseur of life and all things idiosyncratic, it’s my fall from grace.

Idiosyncratic, I find it such ain harsh sounding word but I couldn’t think of another that conveyed what I wanted, peculiar to an individual; no, quirk and peculiar is what I would use to describe Frankenstein not something to revel about, coming back to topic.

So why am I, a person who so passionately defends the right to be different, falling into a classic society mind trap? So I sat down for my morning cuppa (that’s a term for coffee down under) and I pondered. I wrote down two lists one for all the reasons why I wanted to loose weight and one for all the feelings I associated with being over weight.

Background story, I am a mother of three and my youngest is 15 months old and I am exactly 10 kilos above my ideal weight. My husband hates skinny women and loves me the way I am. My family is known to be “healthy with big bones” so no pressure from them to loose weight.

I have always been athletic, used to do yoga, and walk for hours. I was never really skinny except when I first started flying (I used to fly with Emirates) and then slowly bounced back to my normal weight. I did have a slight weight issue when I finished college and took up a sedentary job that bound me to my desk for 10 hours with an endless supply of junk food. However, my weight has remained fairly constant after I quit.

Now for my lists, the one where I jotted down why I wanted to loose weight was ‘classically vain’ but it was the list where I wrote down how I felt being over weight that shocked me.

  1. I feel like I have lost all control or say over my life, like I’m a football being kicked around by life and situations.
  2. I am my body and I have no control over it.
  3. I feel like a spectator not a doer.
  4. I look into the mirror and I can’t recognise the person looking back. Where am I?
  5. Earlier I had a sense of style, a personality, now it’s Mrs Frumpy mother of three.

 

There were a couple more but these are worth talking about. It made me realise my inner struggles and who I was as a person. Obviously the ‘mum’ thing has got me all rattled up, personally responsible for 3 innocent lives, no wonder I wanted my old life back. As a conscientious person I am obviously quite blown over by the responsibility.

 

That is a topic for another day; today it’s about how I relate my body shape and size with control over life. I am quite insane to think that anyone can claim to have control over life; it is the one thing that mystifies even the wisest.

The thought, a drowning man clutches to a straw comes to mind. A sheer act of desperation, it’s my mind’s way of relating and making sense of my life. Loosing weight given that I work from home and have 3 kids all under 5 to take care of and have to schedule time to even shower is impossible in the time frame I want.

I know I will get there, eventually, but by fretting over it today, I am distracting myself from a more pertinent issue, my identity crisis.

I know myself, even if I were my ideal weight today, I’d find something to vex over tomorrow. Where does this need to ‘control’ come from? I mentioned it twice, as a celebrator of life, when did I develop the need to control it? What happened to live life and let God show you his great plan?

Am I a hypocrite? Do I publicly support all that is different in others but demand a very stereotyped image from myself? Looking back, yes I did hang out with the wild ones but I never did the things they did, I never smoked (cigarettes or pot), never drank (not even beer) and no, I never took risks. Every ‘impulse’ was carefully planed out and all the worst scenarios had fallbacks.

I don’t know what is worse being a control freak masquerading as a free spirit or craving to be that person? Becoming a mother has forced me to shed a lot of the facades that I had accumulated and it has unnerved me. I had been looking at life through a guarded window and now without my masks I feel vulnerable.

Naked, since I have been stripped of all the layers of lies and deception, I am now forced to live the life I have always professed to living. How ironic is that? Here I thought I had life all figured but turns out life had me figured from day one.

I salute you God, you are wiser, kinder, stronger and most importantly patient. What can I say? You got me, but do me a favour and don’t ever let go!