Black eyeliner, mascara and lash curler. That was my definition of makeup for the longest time. In recent years, I’ve begun nerding out about makeup but when it came to the basisc, that was pretty much it.
It wasn’t until I my father passed away in September that I truly understood the power of makeup. When I got the call that he passed away, black eyeliner, mascara and lash curler were the things I packed on my way to my parents’ house. It was enough to look like a decent human being for 20 hours, dealing with all that needs to be dealt after someone dies. The next morning I made a conscious decision: to paint myself a face on. My father was a businessman so I helped my mother shut down his business. So while my father’s corpse was being prepared for cremation, we met with employees, advisors, his bank and clients to discuss how we’re going to proceed with them.
I’m not a social butterfly in the first place. But when I wanted to hide the most, I had to be out there more than ever. I figured the only thing I could control in this situation was my appearance. So I started putting on layers of makeup and was surprised how decent I looked given the circumstances. When I looked in the mirror I thought, “Everything is a nightmare, but at least I look ok.“
Researching and purchasing makeup products was a nice distraction for me, going to the drugstore was my pastime when I didn’t want to talk to anyone else but my family. The main reason why I clung to makeup so much was that it made me feel more comfortable in meetings with clients and business partners of my dad. Here I was managing a company that I had nothing to do before in an industry that I know nothing of and that isn’t used to seeing a young woman doing business.
Having a razor sharp cat eye and dark red lips gave me the power I needed when nasty old men tried to take advantage of my family. Two weeks after my father’s death, I attended the wedding of one of my dearest friends. On the 3 hour drive to the venue, I had a call with a business partner and I remember feeling so confident because I was all glammed up. The only time I did go lighter on the makeup in the past few months was during a two-week business trip to California. Because a) California sun makes you beautiful anyways and b) I didn’t feel like I needed to hide my true self.
A lot of people equate makeup with superficiality, especially in European culture. But the power of makeup is so much more than looking good on the outside. To me, makeup was the therapy I needed when I didn’t have time to process my own feelings.
Now that the toughest challenges are behind me, I still enjoy the process of putting on makeup and it’s become a vital form of self-care. In my head I’ve always been an ugly person, but cosmetics can make me feel and look better at least to some extent. The fun thing with makeup is that whatever makes you feel good is right for you.
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