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Why Do I Wear Make-Up? Is It For Myself? Society? Is It Because Of The Media?

Originally published in the August 2016 issue of Elle

Why do I wear make-up? I hadn’t stopped to think about it before but it’s a question I asked myself just after I finished reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. Do I wear make-up for myself, or to please others, or could it be a little bit of both? Do I wear make-up because I lack confidence, or is it because I have been programmed through the media and society that women are meant to wear make-up? Or could it simply be because I love make-up and the way it makes me feel about myself? Then I remembered a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: ‘Pretty is something you’re born with. But beautiful, that’s an equal opportunity adjective.’

You see, beauty is not only external and not just a façade, it comes from within, and being beautiful has nothing to do with the make-up I (you or we) wear but, and this is a big but, does wearing it make me feel better about myself? And does the freedom to experiment with it make me feel empowered and free? Oh, yes, it absolutely does.

If I wake up and feel like a can conquer the world, I opt for the red lip, and if I feel like I want to shake things up a bit I’ll try a new blue eyeshadow. If I want to be bare-faced on a Sunday morning, I wear my hydrating moisturiser and a tinted lip balm and venture outside, feeling just as good about myself as I did the night before when I channelled Madonna with a deep plum lipstick and (several coats of) mascara. So, the reason why I choose to wear make-up has nothing to do with lack of confidence or a need to cover up, quite the contrary; my love of make-up is empowering, it gives me choice – to be whoever I feel like on any given day or night. And, believe it or not, when I am feeling fatigued or under the weather, pale face and bloated, I turn to my make-up bag for a temporary feel-good solution; a light layer of bb cream, a flash balm and a hint of concealer. I also don’t believe that make-up makes me any less intellectual – I see it as an intelligent choice I am investing in my skin. I love my morning skin and make-up rituals that have, in themselves, become therapeutic for me: from the scent of my serum to the lip colour that suits my mood. I love enhancing my assets with different products, like a green eyeliner to make my hazel eyes pop, or accentuating my arched brows with a highlighter. I love seeing women of all ages at the make-up counters peering over and experimenting with new products and testers.

Make-up has a positive connotation in my life. As a teen, I remember watching the overwhelmingly positive reactions of women who’ve endured tough times and were treated to a makeover. That first reveal unveiled a new, transformed individual, and the change in their attitude and demeanour was instantly noticeable. It served as a new lease on life.

So why do I wear make-up? Because it helps me enhance my natural features, it nourishes my skin and it makes me feel all sorts of happy!

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