When looking through my wedding pictures recently, Pumpkin pointed at the getting-ready shots and said “Mommy, what are you doing?” I was putting on makeup … something she’s so rarely seen me do – if ever – that she didn’t recognize it.
I’ve never been one to wear makeup much, outside of a disastrous semester freshman year of high school when I wore far too much, too light foundation and far too dark of lipstick. (It looked awesome with my braces.) The last time I can recall putting any on was for my husband’s company Christmas party, three months ago.
There are probably a few reasons for this. For one, my mom only ever wore mascara when I was growing up (sometimes it was blue). Everything I learned about applying makeup came from teen magazines and the back of my eyeshadow container. (The kind lady at the MAC counter drew me a map to show me exactly how to do my makeup on my wedding day.) I also feel like if I do my makeup every day, then it doesn’t look as special when I do it on special occasions. Then there’s the question of where I would find time in my already-hectic morning routine. And also there’s my environmentally conscious side that is cautious of what chemicals might be lurking in makeup and also questions whether purchasing all that product is really necessary.
Obviously, it’s not. I’ve made it to my mid-30s, earned a master’s degree and advanced in my career sans-eye shadow. But I sometimes wonder if my bare face is becoming unprofessional at my age. I wonder if I need to start coloring my hair. I wonder how others see me, as I know the things that cross my mind when I see people who work in my building in torn jeans and hooded sweatshirts (did I just compare my face to torn jeans?).
Mostly, I wonder what kind of message my actions send to my daughters. This extends beyond makeup, of course, into body image and who does what household chores and even the types of shows I watch on TV. I want them to feel they are beautiful, no matter what, inside and out. But I also worry at times they are told too often how beautiful they are, because I don’t want them to think their self worth is tied to their appearance. I want them to know they can do anything boys can do, whether they choose to wear makeup or not. So now, as a parent, I am more aware than ever of every choice I make and how it will be interpreted through their eyes.