War Paint

Let me tell you a little bit about myself (as if I don’t do that every night).

When I was younger, I was a tomboy, which is a term that I don’t even agree with. But if I had to describe myself in a context that most people would understand, I would proceed to tell you that I mostly chose sports over dresses. I chose books over Barbies. I chose being dirty over taking showers, every time. I pretended that I wasn’t a “girl,” and all that it does or does not imply.

And, of course, that meant that I forewent all makeup. No eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, foundation, blush. Nothing. (I had enough on my face with glasses and braces.) Who even had time for all of that when there was homework to do? Why wake up an hour early to paint your face when you had gym for your first class? What was the point of all that effort?

So, I continued to arrive fresh faced at school while I slipped quickly into the bathroom and out, as a line of my peers applied lip gloss and shadow with their fingertips. They would make kissy faces in the mirrors on their lockers, chatting with each other. It was like a secret society that I was on the outskirts of, without the tools to communicate.

Except, I exiled myself. There was no reason that I couldn’t join in. I simply chose not to, and so armored myself against it all. I perceived makeup as vapid and shallow. I then convinced myself that the people who wore it were only trying to beautify their outsides to make up (pun intended) for their insides. I told myself that I would never, ever be so self-conscious that I would carry around lipstick, just in case I needed a touch-up, just in case someone started to see through it all to the real me.

So, what happened to little, proud BaileyDailey? She grew up, and she grew up. She realized that it was stupid to judge people on their appearance, no matter how they chose to enhance or detract from it. She realized that makeup was actually for people who were completely confident in who they were and simply wanted to transform themselves into something else. She realized that makeup was war paint, a challenge to the rest of the world to smudge her lipstick, to smear her mascara. It was also a promise that she would still come back, looking flawless.

Today, I still don’t wear a ton of makeup. I still don’t know what the best brands to use are. I still can’t put on liquid eyeliner perfectly on the first try. But I’ve stopped rolling my eyes when I see that other people do. As women, we need to raise each other up. But more than that, as people, we need to learn how to learn from each other.

So, when I kissed and made up with makeup, I matured as a human being. I stopped giving the snake eye to the smoky eye. I quit giving lip to lip liner. But most of all, I stopped confusing the content of someone’s character for the color of their eyeshadow.

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