You’d think that with my jobs and professional experiences I would have already become a makeup guru by now.
The truth is, I still cannot do makeup to save my life, which is one of the reasons why I shun it. The only times I would begrudgingly oblige are when I am under professional coercion, as I needed to qualm the complaints of photographers or cameramen about how my face would simply disappear on camera if there are no colours on my face. Personally, the number of times when I wore makeup voluntarily can be counted on one hand, and almost all of them failed miserably. I simply am an absolute ape when it comes to this form of art. I am so inept when it comes to makeup, fashion, making myself up and anything physically female-related that sometimes I wonder if I could be any less humanly feminine or that if perhaps I would be better off roaming the wild as a modern-day Neanderthal.
When I was little I lived my life
in reckless abandon cluelessly as a non-girl, non-boy entity. On the rare occasion, I would have the sudden urge to be more of a “girl”. When the urge struck, I would try on my mommy’s lipstick, wondering if it would make me look more “girly”. Upon finding that I looked like a child harlot instead, I would then wipe them off while cursing my weakness to succumb to the allure of femininity. Then, I would resolve to never be a girl ever again before resuming my general state of laziness and nonchalance towards gender identity. Of course, this did not stop me from trying them on again when I found samples in the mail or when my mommy bought a new colour after she finished off the last stick. I never learned, and would repeat the cycle of curious attempt -> disgust/self-abhor -> renouncement of makeup -> determination to live my life out as a genderless organism. Thankfully, my mommy only wore lipstick so there was nothing else I could lay my grubby hands on and with which I could ruin my face.
This usually happened a couple of times a year until one day I found a strange new beige stick my grandmommy bought my mommy when she returned from Japan. My mommy only wore lipstick so never put it to use. With no prior exposure to anything else, this Shiseido foundation stick fit my schema of a lipstick, leading me to mistake it as one. I excitedly applied it to my lips. It caked horribly and made me look like I had just eaten dust. I do not remember doing so, but I would not be surprised if I were dumb enough to taste it too. I lost the urge to try on my mommy’s lipstick ever after…
As I entered puberty and became slightly conscious about my looks, I still could not bring myself more motivated to make myself look more of a girl. I remained unabashedly barefaced, content with my mocha-flavoured, sparkly chapstick as my only link to the world of normal “girlhood” – until my high school graduation prom loomed and I realized my femininity was soon to be tested. Panicked, I rushed to the drug store. The vast arrays of colours disoriented and confused me. I went up and down the aisle for hours and bought home only a sparkly peach something with SPF 23, mascara and a concealer in the lightest shade I could find.
The day of prom arrived. Every other girl looked stunning: Their makeup perfect, dresses beautiful, and heels graceful. Some of the girls had professional makeup artists do their makeup and looked extra gorgeous. Then, there was me, the ugly, tacky duckling with the almost-nude face. How did I mess up? Let me count the ways:
1) My pink dress: wrinkled because I neglected to hang it up and instead just tucked it away in the closet. It was extremely sexy as my back was all bare, but the wrinkles in the front ruined the whole look
2) My sparkly peach something with SPF 23: made my face “peachy” because I did not know that you were supposed to test the shades to see if they actually matched your skin. On the positive side, it did provide me with much-needed sun-protection (however inadequate), make my skin glitter and make it normal human colour, but since I neglected to put it on my chest area, the colour difference was very visible
3) My mascara: put on too little and in the wrong way to have any effect. I also thought that mascara alone would curl my eyelashes like in the commercials and became quite disappointed when my eyelash did not curl like curly fries even after rigorous application
4) My concealer: I had absolutely no idea how to use this, nor where to put it on. By the name I deduced correctly that it was to hide blemishes and imperfections, which, for me, meant the mole on my face. I dotted and dotted and dabbed and dabbed and dabbed and rubbed and rubbed the concealer pen onto the mole. The angry black dot still showed, so I gave up and resigned to the fact that the mole was meant to be (i.e., there to crush my soul and obliterate my tiny dream of having perfect skin on my prom day/night)
5) My lipgloss: Fortunately, lipgloss was an idiot-proof tool, so this was the only saving grace I had on my face
6) My hair: I did not bother to do anything with it, until a kind friend took it upon herself to braid it so that I looked like I at least put some effort into making myself up
So, off I went. On a day (and night) when I was supposed to be in the peak of my youth and beauty I hardly looked any different than my usual self save for a wrinkly pink dress and matching heels. When we posed for photos, every other girl stood out whereas my face, despite its “peachiness”, still made me look like a Voldemort standing amongst a flock of blossoming girls.
I put the makeup to one more use before graduating for the optional friends photo. In the change room, all the girls were busy fixing themselves up, whereas I stood there dubious what to do. Then, remembering my tendency to fade on camera, I borrowed my friend’s pink eyeshadow and put it all over my cheeks, completely oblivious to the potential contamination risk. When the picture came out, you could easily spot the pikachu amongst a group of perfectly made-up humans.
Well, actually, no: I was the outlier, but never as cute as pikachu. Maybe more of an uglier version of Chibimaruko-chan.
The makeup were then banned to the deep depths of my bathroom drawer, never to be seen again until my next graduation.
Fast forward to a few years after, I found myself needing to do two different shoots for my university graduation photos. For my first one, I dug out the dusty mascara, sparkly peachy something SPF 23 and the same lip gloss that my grandmommy gave me years ago. The sparkly peachy something SPF 23 smelled funky, so I tossed it away but still braved the mascara and lip gloss. The good news was I did not die from botulism or other bacteria-induced infection; the bad news, I still disappeared on camera. So, for my second photo shoot, I was determined to actually appear on camera and look fabulous. To that end, I went on craigslist to find a “professional makeup artist.” However, being the cheapskate that I was, I settled on one who promised to deliver professional looks for only $10. After 30 minutes of pure torture during which I also got my man-brow waxed and plucked, I emerged as a glamorous drag queen.
I’m not kidding: The photographer looked at me and had a visceral reaction – however subtle, I still noticed!! I think it went without saying that I did not order any photos from that shoot; I’d rather have no photos of my graduation than any evidence of my temporary transgression to the other realm. To this very day, I still cringe every time I pass by my “fabulous” self on campus. My only consolation is that it is hung in the innermost corner of an old building, and I had used another name for that program.
The trauma from taking the matters of my face into my own hands scarred me so much that I have since abstained from putting on makeup by myself – save for a little lipstain now and then so as not to waste the free gift. Now, the only thing I wear on my skin when I go outside is multiple layers of sunscreen. True, it makes me so greasy that if you throw an egg on my face it’d probably sizzle and start to fry on contact, but I’d take that any day than scaring anyone ever again. For now, I am fairly content to admiring the makeup skills of the women around me and being a すっぴん (suppin/bare-faced) chibimoekko~ Besides, I think I look much
cuter tolerable barefaced anyway, and I know my love agrees~.^