Even though I grew up in a small hippie town that celebrated being natural, I still heard society’s message loud and clear: part of being a woman is looking good, no matter what. Being feminine and looking good is synonymous with wearing makeup.
Do whatever it takes to look attractive and sexy.
I remember as a small girl, 4 or 5, playing with my babysitter’s lipstick, experimenting and pretending to be grown up. Apparently, I was being too grown up, and my mom told me to take off the lipstick because it was too sexy. That was the first distinct connection between makeup and being sexy that I remember.
As I entered adolescence and my interest in makeup and image grew, I turned to my friends for tutorials and tips. My mom was never really into makeup, so raiding her stash was out of the question. However, for my twelfth birthday, my aunt gave me a gift certificate for a makeover at one of the top salons in town. Finally, I could learn how to enhance my femininity with eyeliner, blush, and lipgloss! I asked question after question, getting as much information out of the woman giving me the makeover as I could. Why did she use gold eyeshadow? How did she blend it? How do you put on mascara without poking yourself in the eye?
For years I would wake up half an hour earlier, sometimes more, in order to ‘put on my face.’ And that is part of being a woman in our society: dedicating a large portion of your life and money to buying and applying makeup. Periodically, I questioned whether using the petroleum-based makeup I could afford was detrimental to my body and my health. However, my desire to fit in and ‘look presentable’ won time and time again. It didn’t matter how I felt, if I was tired from getting up early, or if I spent my last dollar, as long as I looked good.
That all changed when I started living with a group of women and men dedicated to leading pleasurable lives. The familiar paradigm that looking good is more important than feeling good was turned on its head.
As a young woman in her 20s, I found it refreshing and eye-opening to be around people who value feeling good over looking good, something I never heard growing up female. I noticed the women living with me rarely wore makeup, and when they did, it was quite minimal. They told me how they liked being themselves, and looking how they felt.
There is no need to falsely advertise being turned-on with makeup when a woman is actually turned-on.
I started to appreciate and notice the signs of turn-on, or sexual arousal as it is often coined, in myself and in other women. I learned that a natural darkening around the eyes, called a pregnancy mask–though it does not mean a woman is pregnant–naturally occurs. Similarly, a red to pink flushing can show anywhere on the body, including the lips and cheeks, when a woman is turned-on, or in a state of orgasm. Using eyeshadow to simulate a pregnancy mask, lipstick to enhance engorged lips, and blush to highlight a rosy complexion became obsolete to me.
I like seeing my lips darken and bulge after a sensational kiss. I like seeing my flushed cheeks after a wave of pleasure runs through my body, uninhibited by a thinly veiled mask. I like seeing myself and being seen for who I really am, no pretending or faking.
Feeling good is far more attractive than any bottled pigment ever could be. And that is why I wear #nomakeup.
I salute you, Alicia Keys!