New Essay: “Make Up”

Brow gel? Eyelash extensions? Eyelash tinting? CC cream?

What in the world?

Last I wore makeup I was a teenager. Scared, insecure. Desperate to hide blemishes…

As far as I recall I never got past cover sticks, mascara and garish eye shadow. Except of course the sticky, impractical lipgloss. And the blush I gave up after discovering that there was no such thing as not too much.

So, at 27, I had to discover that there was so much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

I went into the store with the vague idea of maybe buying some mascara. Because I’d finally, for the first time since I was a teenager, found a man I figured I might like to impress. 

My astonishment when I realized that I didn’t have a clue what 90% of the products were…

BB cream? Was that the stuff that made my old schoolmates orange-tinted? Or was that fake tan? Bronzing spray?

And what in the world is the difference between BB cream and CC cream?

And here I was, never having even understood the proper usage of foundation and powder. Never having done anything to my eyebrows besides plucking out the more aberrant hairs. Lotion with a green tint to hide redness? And why was it even necessary to use brushes? Weren’t hands okay?

What if I put something on and went out looking like a clown. How would I ever even know?

I think it’s safe to say that I felt just a bit insecure.

Being relegated to lonely experimentation for lack of anybody to go to for advice is a dreadful thing. And for that reason, wearing makeup outside my flat was beyond scary the first couple of times. Until I realized that I barely applied anything compared to other women. Once I found the courage to actually study their faces I realized that they practically spackled themselves.

Not that it made me feel any better. If anything, it only made me feel more left out. As if there was something I just didn’t get.

But to be honest, I was fairly certain at that point that it wasn’t me who was getting it all wrong.

Published By: K-M Skalkenæs

Danish poet, writer and painter. Writings include her own original poetry in English and Danish, and translations of poetry from the Scandinavian languages and German into English.

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