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.

 

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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.

The best of both worlds!

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I’m 36, a mother of three and until today, 9.30 am, I did not realise that I have it all. Until 9.30 am, I was hassled, stressed and like every other woman who has delivered three children in the span of four years, struggling with my weight. I could go on and on about why my life is far from perfect, the dark circles under my eyes from waking up repeatedly at night to tuck one of my toddlers back to bed, my potty training struggles, my husband who just doesn’t understand, my work deadlines that I just can’t seem to meet, my shelved ambition to be a writer, I could go on…

So what happened? Well, I was as usual in my home office, I write articles for my husbands digital services company, when I chanced upon a very loud conversation between my au pair and my youngest, 20 month old Freny.

Merieke: “Oh Freny what did you do, naughty Freny, naughty!”

Freny: “I pretty, pretty!”

Merieke: “No, not pretty, naughty!”

Freny: “Pretty?”

Laughter all around….

Or an earlier incident when I dished up something exotic to entice my 2-½ yr. old to eat. She took one look at it and screamed, “Dangerous!”

LMAO!

How many women can boast of being able to work and still not miss out on the precious moments with their kids? I work and I probably should mention that as an aspiring writer, writing freelance articles is as good as it gets. My hours are anywhere between 6 to 10 hours a day, all subject to deadlines and my workload.

My husband who I constantly label as unsupportive is the one who gets me this fulfilling job and pays me for it! I get to spend this amount on anything I want, mostly clothes and toys for the kids that are not budgeted for, gifts for friends and family that my husband would consider excess. My kids of whom I never cease to complain about how they are demanding, taxing and the reason why I haven’t had a decent nights sleep for four year straight are the highlight of my day. The happiest moments of my life are centred on them, the day they were born, when they cuddled me and said they loved me or when they pass smart comments.

familyI have what most women wish they did and regret missing out on, time with my kids whilst still working (doing what I love!).  I have never missed any of their firsts, so much so that I don’t even remember to log it or keep a digital keepsake; I take it so much for granted!

As far as my weight is concerned, that’s another story, I am a great cook and I love food! Not a good combination if you want to be skinny! As long as my husband finds me attractive, I really shouldn’t stress on it but I do because that’s what a woman of today does.

That’s what I realised today at 9.30 am, I have the best of both worlds, I am truly blessed, praise God, and yet I moan and I complain. Why? Who has implanted this picture of this unattainable perfect life that my already wonderful life doesn’t measure up to? Who wants perfect? If my kids were absolutely well behaved, always immaculately dressed (meaning actually coming home with the same number of clothing, shoes etc. they went out with!), and slept peacefully through the night; then where would the memories be? Actually, in hindsight I would like the sleep through the night bit!

It’s their idiosyncrasies, their strong will and personalities that make every moment so memorable. The house is filled with laughter on account of their adventures and quirky behaviour. I have a really hard time with my 2-½ year old but when I look at her I see myself at that age. Apart form being an exact copy of me, she is an amalgamation of the strong personalities she has inherited form both sides of the family. It makes me realise what a blessed opportunity I have in the moulding of someone who is poised to do something extraordinary in life.

I am a mom, when did moulding lives and shaping personalities become such a mundane task?

Yes, 9.30 am today was an eye opener that my life is wonderful, and I am truly blessed. No, I do not have a model figure (probably never will), my kids are an unruly bunch, my husband is not perfect (neither am I), we are not rich but we are happy! I read somewhere that happy was originally derived form the meaning ‘lucky’ and wealthy actually meant ‘wellbeing’; both of which I am. At 9.30 am I realised I was rich with happiness, works for me.

by Antonia Rapheal