“I look in the mirror. Wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.” – Bruce Springsteen
I wore makeup, for a short time, when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I did it grudgingly and just barely. I asked my sister to help me pick out a basic colour Lipstick, Eyeshadow, and blush. Each time I would apply it, remembering what my sister had told me, I looked for someone sighted to show myself off to before I would dare step out in public, fearing I had made an obvious blunder.
Growing up I never liked to wear brightly coloured makeup on my face on Halloween and I never got my face painted at a carnival. I didn’t like the smell and the feeling of the thick paint on my cheeks. I was a sensitive child, if not overly so. Was it just me being silly or was it something more?
Even when I was older I did not long to wear makeup like the other girls. I would stand by my friend’s locker in the ninth grade, each and every morning while she applied all that makeup before class. I had no interest in following suit. I supposed if the boys didn’t like me for that I would have to make due, or that is what I told myself at the time, but was it about the boys at all or is it only us women who care? The question baffled me as a teenager and still does to this day.
I wore makeup when I would attend a wedding and my sister would apply it for me. I knew better, but I couldn’t help picturing myself as a clown with dark colour covering everywhere and I felt uncomfortable and awkward. My eyes would itch and tear. I just didn’t get it (clowns having always scared me).
I know why women wear it and I too have the urge, sometimes, to be one of them and to do what they do. I know it is permeated in our feminine culture to want to look our best and I want the same. I stopped doing it, in the end, because I couldn’t be bothered. I told myself it was vanity anyway and I didn’t need that, but I understand it still.
I sometimes think it sad that we are so desperate to cover up every blotch, blemish, and freckle. I wish my fellow women did not have to feel like they were less than perfect, but it is the reality we live in in today’s society.
I’ve heard that guys don’t like girls to wear too much makeup, but I do believe all things in moderation can’t possibly be bad. I sometimes wonder how many hours, a woman spends over her lifetime, putting on her makeup. I know there could be other things to do with that time, but peace of mind is a small price to pay I suppose.
It’s hard to not have a clear idea of what you look like. Every day, morning and night, I look into a mirror I see less and less of myself. I begin to forget what my own face looks like, staring back at me still. I know I am in there somewhere, but I feel a disconnect. This makes it easier and harder, all at once, to do the things that most women do to look their best. I can’t ever get a good idea what I might look like and this often causes feelings of doubt in my physical worth as a woman. I am left to my imagination to picture what I look like. Sometimes what we imagine is worse than the truth (the clown in my mind’s eye). I have only my memories and vivid imagination for my daily reassurance.
I love colour and miss it. I love fashion especially and wish I had the money for a huge wardrobe to choose from. I feel my best when I am wearing something I love. This helps me to understand why makeup matters so much to women. I can’t possibly use the word “vanity” without putting that title back onto myself. I care just as much. Self image and body image are so very intertwined. I know there is nothing wrong with the confidence which comes from the things we do to attain it.
Sometimes I work so hard to recall what a bright blue or a striking red look like. I listen to a fashion show and the descriptions of the outfits and I strain to remember what, visually, that would appear as.
Other times my memories of the colours I love are as sharp in recollection as they were when I saw their beauty with my own eyes.
All of this adds up to my stance on fashion and beauty. Do I think we care too much and let it rule our lives in all the wrong ways? Yes. Do I wish we valued a little more of the substantial and a little less of the irrelevant? Yes because I know we all grow old in the end.
Do I want to be just like every other woman and to look my best for myself and for others? Of course I do. I long for all of this.
The image of a blind girl who has no interest in looking presentable is one of Helen Keller as a child, before she was taught decorum. In the film adaptation of her life she is seen with tangled dirty hair and dishevelled clothes. This is an extreme example of course, but I don’t know what most people think of when they think of blind people and all these things.
We care about our hair, nails, skin, and clothes just like everyone else. I could write a whole other post about my hair and I will, but this weekend I wanted to focus on fashion and makeup specifically.
Coming up tomorrow I feature a woman who is doing her part to dispel myths and to help blind women feel better about their appearances and themselves as beautiful women. I will be partnering the interview I did with her about the work she is doing with my view on the subject today. I hope you will check it out.