October 31, 2011

The Art of Enhancing Ourselves

As the nation prepares to celebrate Halloween tonight, kids across the nation will be painting make-up on their faces to become someone else and masquerade their appearance. I'm prepared to see a range from cute to creepy faces tonight, depending on the make-up.

Wearing make-up is truly an art. Like a child's first scribbles with crayon, early make-up use tends to be less than artistic, and while a parent may not ooh and ahh over the results, the child still has a sense of growing up. I had my play make-up kits as a little girl and they magically transported me, along with my mother's shoes and grandma's beads, to the world of adulthood.

When I was a young teenager, wearing make-up was the ultimate representation of all things grown up. Despite my frequent proclamations of maturity, I was not allowed to use cosmetics until I turned 16. To prove how mature I was, I would sneak make-up. I left the house fresh faced and spent the bus ride to school aging myself to perfection with requisite 70s blue eye-shadow, matching mascara, and shiny rolled on lip gloss. In my quest to appear mature, it never occurred to me that yearbook photos would capture whatever make-up I was wearing and my ploy did not go undetected. My seventh grade photo complete with the dramatic swath of blue eye-shadow serves as irrefutable evidence of my duplicitous actions.

When I became a mother myself, the art of wearing make-up was quickly relegated to nights out and church only, if that much. It became an art of carving out any precious time I could and make-up wearing rarely seemed like a good use of it. Then one day, my own children asked me if they were old enough to wear make-up, and I found myself scavenging through my drawer realizing I had relegated my art to the proverbial shoe box on the back shelf. The cycle had come full circle. It was time to let the scribbling on a fresh canvas begin. My rules were quite simple. You must still look like yourself or you have to wash it off. I allowed my own children to wear make-up at 13, to save them from the faux pas of sneaking make-up on the bus without intervention of a more sensible, no longer swathed in blue shadow, eye.

I've never thought of make-up as a true masquerade, but rather a way to flatter what I have or enhance my natural features. Much like the way we stand taller or hold in our tummy, make-up is the finishing touch on our personal work of art. Myself, I rarely like to be seen without mascara. What is your "must have" cosmetic?

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