Just yesterday I was lying in bed with my mother, flipping through the channels as usual on a weekday evening after dinner. The holidays began appearing everywhere on the television that previous week due to its closeness in time, which meant that channels like QVC and The Home Shopping Network (two of my mother’s favorite channels) would be previewing gift packages and ideas for the upcoming holidays. Out of these many gift options, the one that always stands the test of time is, new and improved makeup set. Whether it be mascara, the newest concealer formula, or the three latest shades of blush, there is always some type of makeup product flying off the shelves during this season. As I watched the program and examined the models apply layers upon layers of concealer onto their faces, the program suddenly cut to before and after photos that not only astonished me, but reminded me of myself; The girl who used to wear makeup to cover up every little scar, fine line, and blemish that covered her unique smile. That girl who had gone through such a huge change within merely a year; The year without makeup.
My story begins in middle school, around the time puberty hits us all smack in the face, literally (sorry, I had to😂) This had been the first time that I had struggled with acne in my life, and although I had seen my sister and cousins grow older, and fight their own battle with these red demons, I had never understood their pain until then. The constant teasing, “Oh, Celina’s got a pimple, that must mean she’s going through puberty,” “Look who’s growing up, and growing pimples on her face”. It was plain immaturity at it’s finest as karma eventually came around and took everyone in my class by surprise that school year, however, it tore at a part deep down inside of me; the part that used to shine like a star was now burnt out. Too afraid to show her light; her face. My defense mechanism for this, as my mother, to my detriment, insisted that I was too young for makeup at this time (however, I now stand by her decision. She taught me how to fight, rather than hide of course) was to hide my face behind the sleeve of my shirt as I had a habit of leaning my head on my hands during class. My obsession with crazy colored, fashionable scarves also stemmed from this want to hide, as well as the need to hide behind my own hair, like I was a knight and it was my shield.
By the time I reached high school, however, I had upgraded from my favorite scarf to the dabbling of makeup. I had so much makeup, in fact, it was always such an ordeal to get ready for school in the morning as I did not know what shade of pink would complement my blue dress shoes the best. To my surprise, I had never been one of those girls who came to school with a full face of makeup on, but hell, did I admire their courage. Because although makeup gave me the power to cover the parts of me that I was too ashamed to let the world see, I began to feel like someone else the more layers that I added upon my own face.
Ironically enough, I can remember the countless time I found myself running into the school bathroom, checking my reflection, and double-check again just to make sure I had fully covered my newest blemish. And the paranoia that came with this as I had worried that the rest of my face didn’t match the color of the concealer, which ultimately ending in covering more than just my flaws, covering up my entire face; hiding once again.
However, it wasn’t until one day, late Junior year that I had had enough. Enough of hiding, enough of covering up who I was. I found myself, makeup bag in hand, and key in the door, racing to my mother’s room that afternoon. There had to be some other option, some other way to live freely, without the need to hide. As I made it to my mother’s room, the makeup in my unzipped bag fell to the floor. I was left stuttering, unable to come up with a coherent sentence. Then I too was on the floor, down on my knees, palms sweating, knees aching, shaking uncontrollably. My mother moved swiftly and reached down to hold me in her arms. Confused as she was, she knew exactly what was on my mind. I had asked before on multiple occasions, “Mama, do you think I’m beautiful? What do you see when you look at me? Do you see me or my pimples?” And each time, without fail, she’d answer, “I see you, Celina. My beautiful daughter. But if it bothers you that much, let’s go to the dermatologist.” Within that moment, I had finally agreed. That was the moment that changed my life forever.
After the visit to the dermatologist, I have prescribed two medications for my acne, one for the night time and one for the morning. I promised myself I would start this routine, or ritual of self-care, by creating receptive face routines for the night and morning that same day. By taking care of my skin, I was no longer running from it, in fact, I was admiring it! The light tan of my skin, the natural pink in my cheeks, who needs makeup anyway! And so I spent that following year, avoiding any type of makeup besides Vaseline if that counts, and instead embracing myself.
To close, I’d love to say that makeup is still no longer part of my life, but we all know a girl just can’t resist. However, my relationship with makeup is much different. Much more balanced. I now use makeup to play up my beauty, to highlight the things I love most about myself; my naturally long eyelashes, and my rosy cheeks, a little mascara, and blush could do them some good. But, I want to leave you all on this note, the idea that beauty my friends, is in the eye of the beholder; those exact eyes that look back at you in the mirror.
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