By Kate Ringer
When I was a little girl, all I wanted was to be a teenager. I pictured my future self as a popular cheerleader, a girl who had an endless stream of boyfriends, a gaggle of giggling girlfriends, and a closet full of fashionable clothes. As I got older, I realized that my fantasy wasn’t really me. When I was young, all I wanted to do was wear makeup, but my mom made a rule that I wasn’t allowed to wear it until I was in seventh grade. Through my sophomore year of high school, I experimented with makeup, but I never really felt comfortable wearing it. I wasn’t good at putting it on, and it just never really felt like me. Now, I’m in my sophomore year of college and I haven’t really worn makeup since my junior prom.
After reading “My Week Without Makeup,” I was struck by the idea of doing the opposite experiment. What would it be like if I wore makeup for a week? So, after over a month of deliberating and worrying, I finally decided to do it.
Day 1 – Friday
I went with my friend AJ, who agreed to help me this week, to Rite Aid to pick up some makeup. We got foundation, concealer, bronzer, eye shadow, blush, an eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, and mascara. I had some lipstick already. Walking around the store, AJ tried to include me in the decision-making, but I was so uncomfortable, and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing or what I should be looking for. Later, AJ had me watch a makeup tutorial (something I have never watched in my life) so I could get an idea of what to expect. Then, step-by-step, AJ showed me how to do my makeup. This is something I had never been taught before. When I wore makeup I just put it on my face with no thought, and apparently there are very specific ways you apply each item. Where do people learn this?
AJ would do one side of my face and have me do the other. I was trembling with fear, completely saturated with anxiety. Every time it was my turn to try it, all I wanted to do was ask her to just do it for me. The worst part was the eyeliner, because I just knew that when I messed up we’d have to start over completely. When we finally finished, I looked in the mirror and felt disgusted. My face didn’t look like my face. I didn’t want to look at myself— it was too uncomfortable. My friends who were there for support told me it looked good, and I’m sure it looked fine, but it just didn’t look like me. I was painfully aware of my face, down to the last eyelash. Everything felt sticky, and all I wanted to do was rub it all off.
Day 2 – Saturday
My friends and I had a get together on Saturday night. I had AJ do my makeup to fit this special occasion.
I GOT LITERALLY ZERO COMMENTS ABOUT IT.
Getting no comments was the worst possible outcome for me. When people did say things, it made me really uncomfortable, but it made me twice as uncomfortable when they didn’t say a word. Did people just not notice? Did it look bad and they didn’t want to offend me? Did it look better and they don’t want to offend me?
Day 3 – Sunday
I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just couldn’t get up the motivation to wear makeup on a Sunday. Is that normal?
Day 4 – Monday
I woke up twenty minutes earlier than usual so that I would have time to do my makeup. I kept my phone close by so I could text my friend AJ if I had any questions, but the plan was to do it all by myself. Although putting on the makeup was a little scary, I liked the process of it. The foundation, concealer, bronzer, highlighter, blush… it was actually pretty fun. But, as soon as I started on the eye makeup, I started cursing loud enough for my roommates to come rushing back to the bathroom. When it was all over, I was fairly certain that I had really messed up my eyeliner, but I was too lazy and too late for school to try and fix it.
As I went about my day, I found myself looking in the mirror constantly. My face was super itchy and sticky, but I was afraid that if I touched it I would mess up my makeup. When I looked in the mirror, I barely recognized the girl who was looking back at me. My boyfriend was unsettled all day, too.
When I got home around nine o’clock, I ran immediately to the bathroom to wash my makeup off with coconut oil. My bare skin looked pristine, and felt soft, and I finally felt comfortable with my appearance again.
Day 5 – Tuesday
I got to spend a couple of hours with sixth graders at the local middle school, and one of the boys made a comment. He asked, “Why are you wearing so much makeup?”
I explained that it was an experiment. Then I asked him, and the two other students sitting next to him, if they think that I look better, and should wear makeup every day. They all screamed, “No!” and wildly shook their heads, telling me that I looked weird with makeup on. I love how honest kids can be.
Day 6 – Wednesday
I had fun putting my makeup on this morning. I admit this guiltily. For the first time, things actually went right. The eyeliner on my right eye was perfect. I knew what I was doing. I felt confident in the way that I looked. This made me think that when I finish with this experiment, I will have a basic understanding of how to do makeup (and I might actually wear it occasionally.)
I definitely wouldn’t be able to wear it all day, though, as I really hated not being able to touch my face. I felt sticky all day, and I am sick of it. I know that some people do wear makeup when they work out or play sports, but before I go rock climbing tonight I am taking it off.
Day 7 – Thursday
I decided to do my makeup after my 8 a.m. class and wake up at the time I used to, and it was so luxurious. Putting it on in the afternoon before my second class was actually really fun; it felt more like a leisure activity than a chore. Well, except for my incident with the eyebrow pencil. My eyebrow pencil had gotten pretty dull over the last week, so I decided to sharpen it with scissors, my only available tool. With each swipe of the scissors, the pencil got duller and duller. In a fit of frustration, I snipped the pencil in half and threw it in the garbage can. Luckily, both of my eyebrows were done before I tried to sharpen it, but I was sad that I didn’t get to do them for my last day with makeup.
Day 8 – Friday
Last day! What a relief. I was pretty confident putting my makeup on, and it took me significantly less time, about 25 minutes. I had a long day, so I decided to take a nap on campus. I learned that having your eyelid pressed to a leather chair will completely remove your eyeliner, so I spent about half of the day with eyeliner on only my left eye. That was unfortunate.
Overall, I didn’t find that people treated me differently when I was wearing makeup. No one really seemed to care except me. I felt more self-conscious wearing makeup than I ever do without, even when I have a huge zit. Personally, I like to be able to roll out of bed and take a shower and be completely ready for the day. But, I am really glad that I learned the skill it takes to apply makeup, and I may even wear it for special occasions.
What’s important is that I’ll never have to feel badly about not wearing makeup, and I’ll never judge someone who chooses to wear it. It’s a personal choice, and everyone deserves to make it.