A Reclamation of Awesomence


I haven’t written anything in awhile, so I’ll be a bit more unstructured. I’ll even resist numbering things or making a list of any sort.

The slant of this essay starts with this,

PRIEST you spend two hours or more fixing yourself in front of the mirror, putting make-up (what do you call that? eyeliner?) and after all that, you don’t recognise yourself anymore. But only then are you able to say to yourself, with surprise, “you’re beautiful”. But these masks aren’t necessary, you don’t have to hide your true self, you don’t have to be a different self to be loved. And don’t be afraid to take off this mask —this mask you use to pretend to righteousness, to hide your actual sinfulness— in a world that is attracted to falsehoods. There is no need for masks with Jesus. There’s no need to pretend.

And even earlier, with this,

SCHOOLMATE A naka-make-up ka ba ngayon? Bakit? 

Take a deep breath, because (unsurprisingly) I have the ability to turn every encounter into oppressive rhetoric that needs to be rectified. (And no need to be careful with me in the future. I positively revel in the chance to get sample material lol. And I’m looking forward to discourse.)

So there’s really nothing wrong with what the priest is trying to drive at (and yes, I have lost the ability to make smooth paragraph transitions). The world will certainly be a lovelier place if we’re open and honest and entirely accepting. But the catch of the argument is the metaphor, the likening of a mask of falsehood and insecurity to make up.

I beg to differ. I beg to differ in bold.

And yes, this is an essay about make-up. Scared? 

Make-up isn’t something to snark at, to criticise and demonise (unless it is badly done). It’s not a crutch or a curtain people hide behind. It can be, yes, in certain cases and for some people. But that’s not the point. When you attack cosmetics and their use, you attack the millions of people who use it for a myriad of wonderful, amazing reasons. Make-up is a celebration, a statement, regardless of whether or not it’s used to hide your fears or glorify your cheekbones. Why? It’s a choice (and isn’t that my favorite sentence), and we made it (if it’s not apparent yet, I am one of the million users of powder).

Because who is make-up for, at the end of the day? Do we put our make-up to attract —romantically, sexually— other people? Yes. Maybe 40% of the time (and I pulled that probability out of my ass, don’t trust it). And that’s fine. But does that give you the privilege to tell us that putting on make-up isn’t actually attractive? Or more clearly, do we do it to be slaves to another’s interest? No. If we were slaves to the interest of another party, well —the same argument for #FashionFridays (or #FashionEveryday) follows. If we dressed up for other people entirely and for another’s interest (and in this case, majority is for men —and that probability is quite legit), we’d probably be going around naked. Or in our underwear. Or, in the case of make-up: driven to the extreme of facial reconstruction so that we could look like Scarlett Johansson.

So just imagine the mind of someone who wears make-up with the intent to kill it in bed —what’s my market? What would be appealing to them? How do I execute this in the most efficient way possible? It’s a whole bloody process that does take into account others, but it’s never just about them. And this isn’t just fine. This is brilliant. It’s micromarketing in action.

But again: even wanting to be attractive isn’t a function for other people we fulfill for others’ sake. It’s something we do to get what we want. It doesn’t matter what the ‘target market’ really wants, or any side parties for that matter. The point is that we want to feel attractive, especially to ourselves, and we’re going about it in the way we want. [1]

And the rest of the time, well; make-up is really just for our own sake, 100%, to make us feel prettier and more confident and more able. You’ve never felt contentment until you’ve made the perfect wing tip catliner, or happiness without the joy of blending eyeshadow colors (successfully). Maybe we really are hiding deep-seated insecurities, and we cover it up with two layers of make-up (or three or four). And in that case it’s not fair to call it hiding for fear or insecurities –it’s called a sense of self-preservation and want of social mobility. Or really, we just think our face is hella awesome, and it demands more contouring for the rest of the world to properly appreciate.

Here’s the crazy part: people who wear make-up —or choose not to, whatever— are smart. In the real world street sense. Because anyone with a care (or deliberate not-care) for their appearance knows one important thing: appearance is actually everything, no matter how we like to say otherwise, because we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in our own, where (to borrow a term) visual cues are inextricably linked to our perception and association. A doctor must have good clothes, a skater boy probably shouldn’t be wearing a three-piece suit. There’s a big difference between a rolex watch and a ring watch. [2]

We acknowledge this importance. We know that the shape of our brow determines how condescending or arrogant we can look like, how sweet or intimidating the shade of our lipstick would make of us. Even just combing your hair is associated with repeated competence, colored contact lenses a sense of adventure. [3] 

And everyone seeks to belong in the way they want to —that’s a fact (I think). And we just happen to be a population that develops skills beyond normal aptitudes (over how to converse, how to work, how to tell jokes) to get that. Because again –this is important. How to carry our body, our clothes, our face, to ensure that we fit into the social circle we want to move in, that we are perceived as we want to be. And then again some people disregard this importance, or refuse to play this game, and go ahead with their own lives. Still a choice.

We control our presence in the world, because we know what it takes for us to live it. Do you?

[1] That means people who tell me they like me better without make-up —with the intent to make me change my rogue ways— can go shut the hell up.

[2] And please, I’m not defending the system. But I am defending the choice of people who have to work within the system, i.e. all of us.

[3] For the record, I find that the most attractive people in the world are the people who choose to own up to their attractiveness. Even if you are conventionally not attractive. Self-confidence >>> “you don’t know you’re beautiful” or “you’re insecure, don’t know what for…”

AND BASICALLY what I am saying, again, is that this gig is a choice, not for you, but for the person involved, and expressing opinion with the intent to deny the validity of the choice is NAY because we are deep as a deep thing.

And how the hell do I get to 1K words on make-up. How.

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