I’m 23 years old and spent most of middle school/high school looking like a dorky nerdy Asian girl owing to my glasses, acne and er… not knowing how to “look good.” I learned how to doll up in college very recently taking cues from alternative models, you, and other bloggers who incorporate a lot of color in their make up and outfit. I’m no professional but I have a good idea of what looks good on me… although I admit, I’m still way more comfy in minimal dress up. I still wear glasses most of the time and right now I work in an environment where I cannot wear make up.
There was a company party recently and since it was a social event (and since I was slightly fed up from being ‘one of the guys’ at work), I decided to doll up. I wore make up and wore a long sweater/jeans combo. And the results? Uh… let’s just say half of my coworkers didn’t even recognize me. I had a good number of guys doing double takes, and people complimenting me and tell me how great I looked. One guy even told me “I was amazed at how different you looked! I guess that’s how celebrities look so good!”
It felt weird knowing that I am the same person that people would hardly consider pretty when I’m wearing glasses, no make up, and hoodie; which I am perfectly fine with. But it’s difficult when with make up and a little dress up, I’m suddenly “pretty.” There is a word in my native country that means “Girl Who Only Looks Pretty With Makeup” which basically means fake beauty, so to speak. I know I’m not using make up to reshape my looks (although I know professionals can definitely do that). I am using make up to accentuate my features and express myself through color, so I know I shouldn’t feel bad that I look “better” with make up on. And it is definitely convenient to be able to tone myself down so I don’t attract unwanted attention. But I can’t help questioning:
Maybe I’m just a fake beauty that only looks good in make up?
I know beauty comes from the inside, but I don’t think there’s any girl that would hate to be considered physically pretty too. My father has once told me all girls can look different based on how they dress (have make up on). I suppose I’m just an extreme case. I’m the same inside and I know there is no shame that I look better(?) when I dress up… but there’s still that lingering dread in the back of my mind that’s I’m just a made up beauty… I was hoping you can help me.
-Girl Who Only Looks Pretty With Makeup
Dear Girl Who Only Looks Pretty…,
I’ve heard the myth about “real” and “fake” beauty before. How can a man tell if a girl is truly beautiful or just ‘faking’ it?, yada, yada, yada. I say: WHO CARES! Most beautiful people I know look ordinary without makeup, and they know it & are perfectly content with it! Yes, some are born naturally beautiful, but most of us need a little help – myself included. I was reading a feature with a makeup artist Dotti, who said, “Most beauties aren’t really beautiful”. I think what she meant is that good looks can be achieved through understanding the architecture of your face and knowing how to enhance it.
It sounds like you were blessed with features that come to life with a touch of a makeup wand as if by magic. It’s like having a secret super-power, imagine the possibilities if used sparingly and strategically. ;) Just like you, I’m rather plain au-naturel: my flat, moon-like visage lacks definition, eyes look beady, and nose looks slightly big in proportion to the rest of the face. All through middle and high school I’ve felt as invisible as my eyebrows… Now, when former classmates find me on social media, I’m always complimented on how great I look, which is funny because underneath all the hair & makeup I’m still the same clumsy, dorky Xenia. :)
I think what baffled you most was the reaction you got to your transformation. I know first-hand that people can treat you differently based on the way you look. Extreme example: When my family first moved to NY, we didn’t have much money so I had to wear this hand-me-down jacket to keep warm. I hated that jacket! It looked like it belonged on a homeless person, not a teenage girl, and caused staff at stores to follow me around like I was going to steal something. Humiliating? Very! But also very telling of how humans work. I’ve resolved to never willingly let it happen to me again, and been striving to look my best ever since.
If you have found a way to look beautiful that works for you, consider yourself very lucky — it’s something some people never find. Use it wisely and um… stay beautiful! :)
Deerlings: How do you find yourself without makeup? Are you happy with the way you look or prefer the dolled-up version? How about others?