I read an article over the summer about the singer, song writer, and musician Alicia Keys and her decision to stop wearing makeup and how she believes we women are wearing masks, trying to fit in, or be accepted, and how it continues to put too much emphasis on appearance rather than substance. Yesterday on The Today Show she made a comment about how she wanted women to feel empowered and be their most authentic selves, and to hear her words, while looking at her bare face, I felt really happy. I have met and known women who LOOK so pretty on the outside, but come to learn they are so very ugly on the inside. I am at a point in my life where I want what is real and beautiful and honest, I could give a flying fig for phoniness. A woman in the ‘public eye’ saying these words on a morning television show aired around the world, without a drop of makeup on her own skin made me feel like she gets it, that she gets what matters. She wrote in May, “I hope to God it’s a revolution. Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”
I have watched many men in my life ‘get ready’ to go out and I have never seen one spend minutes plucking his eyebrows, filling in his brows with pencil and powder, applying anti wrinkle serum, pore primer, tinted sheer moisturizer, and then setting the skin of his face with translucent highlighting powder, then using liner on his eyes, then blending it in with a brush, then applying shadow, then curling his eyelashes, then applying mascara, then dabbing a bit of blush on the apples of his cheeks, then using a sponge to blend in any tint along his jaw line into his neck, and then applying lipstick, lip gloss, or lip balm of some sort. Never. However this order of operations has been performed by me, countless times over the years when I “got ready” to go out and by countless women around the world. I can’t blame the magazines or the catalogs, but somewhere, somehow it got to be the norm that men did so little to “appear” attractive and women did so much. For me, and I am sure for many, it didn’t matter either whether it was getting ready for an event or just to go about town on errands, it was just part of getting ready, and no matter how pretty it might have made me look, I was still just me, going to a party or a concert or the grocery store. What mattered about WHO I am or was, and HOW I think or what I thought about, had and has nothing at all to do with what is on the outside, what you see…How we as a society strayed so far from that is confusing. I am going to be 50 years old later this year and if ever there was a moment to want nothing but authenticity in my life, and if ever there was a moment to say no more acceptance of phoniness, I think it is now.
Honestly, when I’m all made up and see a photo of myself or look in the mirror, it is far more pleasing to the eye than a photo where all of my flaws are so obvious or I look in the mirror and see those lines in my forehead getting deeper, but what does it matter really?! Does it make my love for others or myself less intense if I am less pretty? Does it make my brain, which is always so excited to learn more things, any less ready to absorb and process information? Does it say anything about my need for an organized linen cupboard or spotless house if my eyes are lined or unlined? I have read in books and seen in movies women using the expression “I have to put my face on” and I think about how liberating it would be to be a man and brush my teeth and shave and say, “ready!” I am not implying that one is right and one is wrong, but a face full of makeup, while it might make me seem much prettier than I actually am, it always feels like a mask to me and I can’t wait, no matter where I am, or how long I have to look ‘put together,’ to scrub it all off.
I was thinking about this a lot yesterday on International Woman’s Day, which by the way seems silly to me since EVERY day should be women’s day, since nobody would exist on the planet if it were not for our ability to incubate fertilized eggs, but anyway, I digress…I want to sing out that I am tired of masks and falseness and personas that are aimed to project an image that all too often is not indicative of the real quality of the person, and most importantly, sometimes hides what matters most. I have met and known very beautiful women who, on the outside were nearly perfect, with thick hair and tight asses and fantastic cleavage, but who, when they opened their mouths, showed me they were stupid and shallow, and who were so ugly inside that I would never want to know them well. I have also met women who were not all that physically attractive or were overweight, or their proportions were out of whack, or who had bad skin or bad hair but when they talked it was clear that they were well read, vibrant, curious, and wicked smart, and women I would want to know better and whose company I would very much enjoy.
Let me be clear, I am not against makeup, I do feel pretty when I wear it and I buy it and own quite a bit of it and I think to enhance your eyes to make them more sparkly or bring out the color is all well and good, particularly when your eyes look for the beauty in others. I love lip gloss, lip stick, any sort of lip product actually and truly have an addiction to moist and shimmery lips, but I think they are beautiful more because the words that generally come from my mouth are loving and kind, and my bright lips just enhance my words, meaning that a beautifully lined lip around a mouth that spews toxic words is not pretty to me, no matter the color or quality of the gloss. Some women have their eyes perfectly lined, their fake tits perfectly stuffed into their tight sweaters and their pants snug in all the right places, but they are not good people, no matter how good they look. They make bad choices or disrespectful decisions and show me by their actions, flirting with men who are otherwise engaged or attached for example, or talking about other women behind their backs, they are not part of the “sisterhood” that I treasure. I have learned and seen that ugliness comes in all shapes and sizes and the masks are so varied that it’s sometimes hard to tell who is wearing them and who is not. I want to be free of those kinds of people. If you want a face full of makeup, I applaud you and might comment on how well you do your eyes or remark about how I love the iridescence of the gloss you are wearing on your lips, but I want you to be a good person not just a person who looks good. THAT has come to be something I understand; some women just talk about other women and some women want to talk with other women, if that doesn’t ramble on like nonsense to you, I think you might be one of my kind…