Seeing red and being seen, part 3: how I finally stopped worrying and learned to love makeup

It was last year that the person who changed my life came into it.

At least that’s how I see it. He would disagree, and tell you it all came from me. But my counsellor, who I was lucky enough to see for many weeks, was the one who gently suggested new ways of thinking.

It was him who realised that one of my biggest problems was that I was hiding. That it came from learning to be quiet, to disappear, to avoid confrontation. And then he asked me a question:

What could you do to stop hiding?

The answer was obvious. And terrifying. But I had to find a way to stop bottling myself up.

I already had several red lipsticks, sitting unused in my makeup box. I picked one. And the morning after my counselling session, I wore it.

And nothing terrible happened.

I don’t know what I was expecting. I was frightened somebody would notice it, comment on it. For a long time on the rare occasions I did wear makeup, even on my wedding day, I was terribly embarrassed about it. Somebody might realise I was wearing it, that I wanted to feel pretty. Somebody might notice.

The day after that, I wore it again.

I noticed something I hadn’t noticed since getting a job after many months of frustrating unemployment: I was walking taller. I was looking up. I was making eye contact. I was noticeable.

And it was OK.

I understand why a lot of women reject makeup. It’s their way of being seen as they are. For me, it was a way of hiding who I was and who I wanted to be.

I started to enjoy myself with it.

One day, a colleague commented on the lipstick. Complimented it in fact. And I didn’t want to run away. I didn’t feel uncomfortable.

A cashier at the sushi joint I frequented asked me what lip colour I was wearing. She loved it. I floated through the rest of the afternoon.

And then came the day when I looked in the mirror and, for the first time in a very long time, I saw myself as beautiful- something I had never really believed about myself before, if I’m being honest.

Obviously there was a lot more to it than lipstick, but for me, it’s become a tool I use to show love for myself. It’s been a long time coming.

Seeing red and being seen: How I learned to stop worrying and love lipstick, part 1: The Bad Beginning

All the red lipsticks

Yeah, so this still life ended up a bit 80s-tastic-vaseline-on-the-lens. It was my first attempt at one!

Make-up used to squick me out. I’m not kidding. Especially lipstick. When I tell you that the above is just a small selection of the lip colours I now own, and that of those about 75% are red, red, red, the fact that for a very long time I didn’t wear any may surprise you.

I blame ballet. 

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I blame the stage mothers who used to volunteer to help with the ballet concerts my dance school would put on every second year. Somehow, it didn’t matter which of the Mums I got doing my stage makeup- and stage makeup was my first experience with putting stuff on my face that wasn’t just itchy-scratchy face-paint crayons. The result was always the same- they felt the need to lay on the greasepaint with a trowel. And that wasn’t something they did to everyone. 

This told me, aged about 6, two things. One: that makeup felt absolutely disgusting, thick and self-conscious-making and Too. Much. Two: that I wasn’t as pretty as the other girls. They didn’t have huge balloons of bright pink blusher on them, or inch-thick deep pink lipstick. Yuk. 

My mother almost never wore makeup. In fact, I would bet you could look in her makeup bag now and she would still have the same makeup in there she had back in the 1980s when I used to, occasionally, out of curiosity, take it out and look at it. And I mean the exact same- not thrown out and replaced. The Almay eyeshadow in ‘Peacock’, the ‘Honey Beige’ frosted lipstick, the concealer. I can remember the precisely two times she wore it when I was growing up. Both times I got upset- I wasn’t used to seeing her with makeup on. It didn’t look like her. She certainly didn’t encourage me to wear it either. I tried on lipstick only once growing up, and that was my Nan’s. A mistake- it was the same bright pink as that greasepaint and I wanted it off halfway round our shopping in the town where my grandparents lived but couldn’t take it off until we got home. 

I’ve since realised that what put me off wearing it was, at least in part, being terribly shy. I was often told off for being too loud- being seen and heard was a Bad Thing. Makeup made you seen and heard. Therefore, I avoided it. 

But I still longed for it. And then, as you’ll see, came being a teenager. 

 

Links of Joy: Time for some majesty

I’m having a day where many things have annoyed me and I’ve let them get to me more than I should. To break the pattern, time for some majestic links of majesty.

Lets start with this frosted rainbow unicorn light (because when I think majesty, I automatically think unicorns. The internet has me well trained.).  

From the pages of myth gallops this majestic unicorn, carved in frosted splendor and glowing with an ever-changing rainbow of light.

Yes, that’s the actual description. The light itself reminds me of the kinds of gifts I used to get from students when I taught English as a second language. At the first place I taught ESOL, we had a row of ceramic oil-burners of varying degrees of majesty along the shelf above the resource library. Sadly I had to divest myself of my giant red glass swans forming a heart with their necks when I downsized after I left my now ex-husband. Yes, sadly.

If unicorns aren’t your thing, perhaps you’d prefer to channel Siegfried and Roy with this white tiger side table. But wait, it gets better- according to Amazon, customers who bought that table also bought this dramatic eagle side table. In fact, you can buy them as a set because, again according to Amazon, they are frequently bought together. That means, somewhere in the world (most likely somewhere in the States), it is possible, nay likely, that there is someone- in fact more than one someone- who has BOTH OF THOSE TABLES IN THEIR HOUSE. Lets just take a moment to ponder that. See? I’m feeling better already.

 I’m happy to see that the majesty of the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt is alive and well and available in New Zealand.

You could also get a black wolf t-shirt (because combining shipping is thrifty!). To me it looks kind of like the G’mork in ‘The Neverending Story’. And that’s pretty cool (though holy hell the G’mork scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid).

Sadly, Shiro Cosmetics have discontinued their Three Wolf Moon lipcolour, or I would have linked you to that as an alternative. But to my delight they now have a Red Wedding lipgloss and a new collection of Miyazaki-inspired tinted lip balms. Also, an eyeshadow named after one of my favourite moments in The Avengers (and is rainbow-glittery!). Things I’m adding to the list for a payday treat…

Some natural majesty here, courtesy of Buzzfeed- this majestic mountain trail is trying to kill you. While the photos terrify me (I’m scared of heights- I got freaked out on an escalator last time I was in Auckland, but that was because the Best Beloved insisted on leaning over the edge to look at the floor several stories below), I also really want to go there. Though maybe not on the Insane Plank Walk.

For your movie entertainment (if you own a VHS that is), perhaps you would enjoy this classic 80’s story of using music and bodyrock to stop a greedy land developer from taking over a neighborhood.  Ah, yes, I have many happy memories of the ‘using music and bodyrock to stop greedy land developers’ genre. Starring Mario Van Peebles! No, I don’t know who that is. But the Etsy seller seems to be excited about it, so darn it, I am too.

By the way, if you find things that make you happy on the internet I’d love to see them. I may even feature them in a future Links of Joy. Share the love!

Right! I’m off to put on my sexy dress and move on. Happy Wednesday everyone!  

I’ll leave you with some majestic Beyoncé quotes. Because Beyoncé.

Links of Joy: Fantastic 80s

It’s yet another wet, dreary winter Wednesday here in Wellington. To me that calls for just one thing: the neon-coloured hijinks of my childhood.

You can blame it on this list of characters who aren’t who you think they are -all the remakes of classic 80s entertainment. The remake of Footloose didn’t happen, OK? IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. I think as long as they don’t remake The Goonies I’ll be fine. *deep cleansing breaths*

ANYWAY. If you’re jonesing to look like you should be in Jem and the Holograms (and who isn’t?), you could do a lot worse than grabbing some of the gorgeous colours at Medusa’s Makeup. Such neon. Much glitter. Wow.

The Kitchn has this helpful list of 10 recipes that defined the 80s. Om nom spinach dip.

If you want an insight into 80s fashion, at least into what I thought fashion was when I was a kid, get thee a (sadly now out-of-print) copy of Freaky Fashions by Caroline Archer. I bought a copy at a school book fair when I was about 8 and devoured it. It’s got all kinds of clothing customisation ideas in it, as well as mad hair ideas (“I know this is in black and white but those fans of hair are meant to be sprayed in rainbow colours”. Yes really.) and 80s eye makeup. Admittedly it’s aimed at kids, but, well, it was one of the books that defined my crafty growth.

Obviously, music is important too. My friends Jenni and Steve and I are still planning to write a LARP set at a High School in the 1980s (because John Hughes), and I put together a soundtrack- 62 songs is enough to keep you dancing like Molly Ringwald in ‘The Breakfast Club’ all day.

May you have a purple-lame-rubiks-cube-duran-duran-filled day!