Edit Desk: To love or to loathe my makeup


Eighteen millimeters of lashes frame my eyes packed with bright pink eyeshadow, chunky glitter cut into stars and sharp black lines that extend far past the perimeter.

That’s just Wednesday.

Because the next day, I plan on a big brown smokey eye with beige blush and orange lip tint. The day after that is yet to be decided — I seldom pick my outfits two days in advance.

On average, I’ll spend about 30 minutes a day adorning my face with whatever best suits how I’m feeling and what I’m wearing. Somedays, it’s as quick as throwing on mascara and running out the door, and on others, it’s a methodically long process that takes the length of a movie.

But this isn’t a new occurrence for me.

In middle school, I started experimenting with winged eyeliner. By the time I entered high school, cat eyes were as essential as a pair of shoes. Even with a bare-bones beauty routine, I was eager to try more. My new goal became to maximize color coordination between my clothes and makeup.

A constant stream of YouTube tutorials, Instagram gurus and Tumblr bloggers inundated me with cosmetics content. I could tell you the average influencer consensus on any new launch, and I could tell you about dozens of products I had never even looked at myself. I could tell you what was on my wish list at any given moment. It was exhausting.

It never stopped.

I’ve taken a lot of pride in my eyeliner. I used to see it as an extension of myself.

No two days are ever the same. In fact, I frequently thought about how I could reflect some part of my mood into how it was drawn. On confident days I would make it thin and light, while on harder days, it would be big and bold — as if its presence granted me an emotional shield that could be wielded with the bat of an eye.

With that mindset came some burden as my everyday routine stretched from just a couple of things to a full face of foundation, concealer, blush, contour, powder, brows, eyes, lashes and glitter. That’s just the top drawer of goods.

During my sophomore year of college, my relationship with my appearance struggled the most. If I happened to notice my makeup settling poorly or not suiting my face, it would turn my demeanor sour. I wouldn’t want to be seen. It got to the point where even leaving my dorm bare-faced was a challenge. It sucked.

I turned to counseling services to explore why I was feeling this way — to ultimately move past it and feel confident in my own skin.

I was ashamed to even admit I felt like this was a problem. But the mere mention of someone commenting that I look “different” or “tired” was enough to send me retreating to a trove of powders and glosses. This reliance and compulsion to it drove me mad — something I used to do for fun turned into something overbearing.

With time, I learned to let go of this resentment. My hair, nails, clothes, shoes and, of course, makeup, don’t define me. I love these things, but I don’t need to be obsessed with them in order to enjoy them. I unsubscribed from the YouTube channels and unfollowed dozens of bloggers across social media.

Instead of treating my makeup as an act that must be done, I treat it as an exercise in mindfulness. I continue to wear my makeup almost every day. Not because I have to, but because I want to.

I celebrate myself every morning, and I’ve never looked better.

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