as a woman in her mid-thirties in america, i think i’m in the minority as a non-makeup wearer. it’s not that i *never* wear makeup but it’s also not part of my daily routine. i’m not sure exactly when i forgot to jump on this bandwagon. maybe because i didn’t grow up with sisters and most of my childhood was spent with male cousins playing outside. maybe it’s because i’m asian and there is more cultural emphasis on natural beauty and skin purity. maybe i was intimidated because any early attempts by girlfriends to get me to wear makeup turned into uncomfortable “makeover” sessions that left me feeling awkward, self-conscious and more than a little inadequate.
so i think i resisted makeup for a long time almost out of principle to be true to myself. whether in jeans and t-shirt or a dressy dress, i just danced around it telling myself that i didn’t need it, didn’t want it. my mom never encouraged me try makeup (maybe as a way of holding onto some aspect of youthful innocence) even as she wore an arguably excessive amount. and people i’ve dated never commented one way or another. if anything, i think most of them would probably say that they liked my non-makeup self better as it’s the one they first met. it somehow symbolizes a more laid-back, authentic and/or low maintenance self.
and the longer i’ve gone without makeup, the more drastic it seems to start. people will notice and make a fuss and i hate drawing any attention. especially when it comes to superficial beauty. but i think it’s interesting as i’ve gotten older and more rooted in my own femininity that i feel more secure to consider it. instead of thinking about makeup as a cover-up or something that is anti-feminist, for me, it’s saying i’m woman enough to make the decision whether to embrace it for myself. i’m not a pre-teen girl that’s doing it to look older or to fit it socially. i wouldn’t wear it out of insecurity or to achieve some marketer’s ideal of a flawless, ageless appearance. or would i?
a good friend of mine recently restarted a makeup regime in her thirties. interestingly, in my mind, i always thought she wore makeup, but when we went dress shopping the other day, i asked, “why are you wearing makeup?” only then consciously aware that most of the time she doesn’t. she explained that a few weeks ago, one of her friends asked her when she was going to start wearing makeup / declared that she should start wearing makeup and proceeded to drag her to the nearest shiseido counter. i won’t go into how inappropriate and offensive i think that was in this post. anyway, she was nonchalant about it. she shared a hilarious anecdote about her tribulations with liquid eyeliner and then offered to go with me if i ever wanted to experiment.
i think there are a myriad of reasons to not wear makeup and each woman should question her attachment to things which by definition alter one’s appearance and promise to enhance one’s beauty. to spend time applying makeup is to spend time on something fleeting. as christians we necessarily should examine our lives and behaviors to see where we’re placing our sense of identity, security and worth. but i also think we’re called to enjoy life fully and celebrate beauty and express our individuality as His image bearers.
in conclusion, remember that even though our bodies will be resurrected, sun damage is a real consequence of the Fall. spf ladies, spf.
At the time of publication, Augustine Wu is a woman who doesn’t wear makeup. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her part-time dog amidst her full-time community. She enjoys cooking, traveling and short walks on the beach.