Thursday, March 24, 2005


We saw The Lion King last night. Strictly speaking, it was not the best show I've ever seen, but I have to say, the costumes were unlike anything I ever could have imagined. The audience burst into spontaneous applause when the animals were all coming in for the opening number, "Circle of Life." I would give anything to be able to go back in time and be in on the costume design meetings that yielded these ideas.

So, I'm getting ready to go to the show, and I'm putting on my makeup. I've never been super-excited about doing my makeup, but with this side business of selling jewelry, I have to remember that I'm selling an image, not just a product, and I have to dress accordingly. But I'll be honest and admit that there's a part of me that feels like I really need to wear it, so I do.

Later, Dan looks at me with this forlorn face and says, "Ali, you're so beautiful, you don't need all that stuff! Why do you do that to yourself?" And the weird thing (and one of the thousands of reasons why I ADORE my husband) is that he's being completely serious. He's not just trying to butter me up or something. He hates it when I wear makeup. He really and truly thinks I look better without it.

It makes me wonder why I don't see what he sees when I look at myself. Why do I not see the smile that lights up a room and the eyes with the depth of oceans? Why does my gaze instantly go to the light freckles above my lip that I swear make me look like I have a mustache and the pores you could sail ships in? And why, even when I'm having one of my extremely rare good skin days, do I still think I really should put on some foundation?

One of my teacher friends is not, in her words, a "girlie girl." She doesn't like dresses and skirts and flowery things and pink and makeup. She especially loathes makeup, and can only think of three times she's ever worn it. She told me once that she doesn't want to wear makeup when she teaches because she wants her girl students to see that a woman can be perfectly comfortable in her own skin without having to doll it up. Given where we live, in the liposuction and plastic surgery capital of the world, this is a lesson that these girls desperately need to be taught. And I remember being so impressed that she could do that. And she's not one some Noxema model with skin that looks airbrushed even in person. She's a normal woman with normal skin that has a mind of its own sometimes, and she's okay with that. And I find myself very jealous of her confidence.

So I started trying to figure out who it is I'm putting the makeup on for in the first place. I used to do it to get guys' attention, but obviously there's no need for that, and frankly it didn't help me get the guy I've got because he hates it all anyway. Then I thought of that line from the song, "Wild Night:" "All the girls are dressed up for each other..." And I realized that I don't care what the guys think I look like. It's the women's opinion I'm worried about. What the heck!?!?!? And I thought back to when I first started wearing makeup in high school, and how I was always more concerned with how the popular girls might perceive me than the guys of any social rank. And even though the girl is outta high school by a decade, apparently the high school is not out of the girl, because I still find myself intimidated by beautiful women and worried about what they'll think of my clothes, my hair, my skin. They could be 19 years old and more shallow than a puddle in the desert and I'd still think, "She's totally mocking my skirt in her head, I can see it." WHY ON EARTH DO I CARE?!

So I'm thinking I've been brainwashed by society, by makeup commercials, by the guy in high school who once pointed to a billboard with some Baywatch girl on it and said, "Now, if only you looked like her...,"by the clothes in Express and Limited that are supposedly my size but wouldn't fit me unless I lost three inches off my hips. And I'd really love to say I'm throwing my makeup out today and thumbing my nose at the supposed standard of beauty our culture promotes. But I'm not there yet. But I'd love to know that there are some others like me out there who would love to deprogram along with me and learn to see the beauties that we are underneath all the base and cover-up and mascara.



Heather Diane Tipton said...

I would love to join you but I don't wear make-up. Growing up, I could never afford it. And now. Now I'm just stubborn, I refuse to wear it because it is expected of me as a woman to wear it. LOL Ironically, I probably need it.

Meg said...

OK! That's it, I'm commenting! I meant to comment before... I really did. Here's the deal with ME: I wear makeup. I like wearing makeup, because I think it makes me look pretty. When I feel pretty, I am happier with myself and with life in general. I've found that I actually work harder when I dress up a little, which for me includes makeup. Sometimes I even put some lipstick on at home to do the laundry... it's messier to hold the t-shirts in my mouth while I'm folding them that way, but it's FUN for me to wear makeup. That's what I'm trying to say. But I'm a theatre geek so maybe that has something to do with it. I like playing the part of a grownup.

However, some days I don't want to bother with makeup, and then I just don't wear it. When I see photos from those days, I sometimes think "gee, I sure would look better if I had some makeup on" but sometimes I just don't care.

Al, did some guy REALLY say that to you in high school? Because that is ATROCIOUS. I'm going to find him and kick his ass. Can I say "ass"? Well, I just did.
Twice. :)

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

I will admit, Meg, I agree with you on that point about feeling pretty. It makes me feel pretty, too. And grown up. I think that's one of my biggest struggles--feeling like an adult. I thought owning a home would do it, but it didn't; thought being married would, but it didn't--maybe the baby thing? I dunno. But yes, dressing up and doing the makeup definitely helps, more than anything else even.

And yes, someone did say that. Most likely doesn't even remember, probably didn't even think about it when he said it (although that's obvious by the fact he made the comment at all), butg the fact that I'm still somewhat in contact with him makes me hesitate to post his name here. I'll email you. :)

Meg said...

Al, here's a secret I think I am just learning: we don't ever have to grow up. Pay bills, change diapers, get our hearts broken, yes... but we can still be kids on the inside. Shh, though, seriously, don't tell anybody.