War Paint

I wear makeup almost every day.  Granted, it’s fairly minimal and my “going out” look is pretty much the same as my “day” look, a major faux pas, but I do it anyway.  I refer to my makeup as my war paint for a few reasons.  I first started wearing eyeliner when I was fifteen.  It became a regular habit when my boyfriend at the time told me I looked better with eyeliner.  Jerk.  And there it was – the beginning of societal pressure to beautify.  Over the years I added a few extra things like mascara, eye shadow, concealer, and a little powder (like I said, fairly minimal as far as all the makeup options out there go).

Fast forward, I’m now thirty.  I started out my legal career in a litigation firm and I regularly dealt with a lot of clients and a lot of obnoxious attorneys on the opposing side (sometimes even on the same side)!  They all thought I looked so young.  I would attempt to use makeup to erase the 12-year old face that I was “blessed” with.  My makeup became my war paint – a way to attack the day and put on a face that made other people, for one, not think I was 12 anymore, and two, to sharpen my look so that I looked more lawyer-like.  Of course, most people still think I look rather young (especially on weekends when I wear even less to no makeup and dress down).  This is annoying to me.  I get that when I’m 60 or 70 or maybe even 80 I’ll appreciate it, but looking youthful at 30 means that you will encounter others who think a) you are inexperienced, b) you lack influence, c) you’re not as capable of success. While my looks may be deceiving, there’s a lot I have to offer, but unfortuantely it means I have to try a little harder to show what I am capable of.  And that is certainly where makeup can come in handy and eliminate some of the extra work.

When you think about it – it’s nice perk that it’s socially acceptable for women to wear makeup because we can completely transform our looks with what in essence is a paint palette.  And let’s face it, people do really judge a book by it’s cover.  It’s obviously socially less acceptable for men to wear makeup and so the options of transforming how people view them from a distance really just comes down to their clothing, which is also less versatile than women’s clothing.  But I’ll save that for another day.

Do I wish I could avoid wearing makeup altogether?  Absolutely.  I don’t think it’s really all that healthy for my body.  There are statistics out there that the average woman absorbs 5 lbs of makeup per year!  That’s pretty gross!  Where does that weight go?  Does it go to my hips?  Yikes.  I’m sad to say it, but I think I’m addicted. I would never ever allow myself to go to work without makeup on.   I would never allow myself to go to a party without makeup on.  I will go to the gym without makeup, but I’ve also gone to the gym WITH it!  It’s gross, I know.

I’ve read some interesting articles over the years on how women who wear makeup are more likely to be successful.   For example:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/10/14/wear-more-lipstick-to-get-a-promotion/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/fashion/makeup-makes-women-appear-more-competent-study.html?_r=0

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2464409/Two-thirds-British-bosses-say-women-wear-makeup-want-successful-career.html.

I’ve had moments where I’ve thought about not wearing makeup at all anymore and then I fear that the experiment alone will negatively impact my career and my success.  It seems so silly.  And yet, I believe it.   My makeup has become a big part of who I am and how I seize the day. I consider it a mechanism to change how people perceive me, and it’s apparently also a mechanism to my success.   It is my war paint, and just may be until the day I die.

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