I don’t remember exactly when i put make-up on for the first time, but it must have been in my late teens. I remember trying a light green/grey pencil around my eyes and thinking I looked good with it, so I started wearing it regularly. At some point I added some mascara, and my eyelashes seemed nicer, so I wore that regularly too. Lipstick was out of the question, I tried it and found my mouth looked horrible with it, no matter what colour, it always looked way too artificial. Some girls my age wore make up, but others didn’t. It wasn’t something that we really shared or talked about, more a private matter. After I left school and went to London I found I couldn’t really see my eyes if they were without makeup, I liked to see them well, standing out in my face, so I always drew a line around them with a brown pencil, which I carried with me everywhere, to be able to reapply it whenever it started to fade. Over the years I started to develop an interest in all kinds of makeup and the various ways in which one can paint one’s face and create different looks. I started trying foundation and eventually got into lipstick, though I could only wear it with a lip liner to define the lips first. I even bought a book on makeup (those were pre youtube days), and was fascinated by the techniques and the effects. By my early thirties I was wearing make up every day and even if I was at home. It was just part of getting dressed. I hardly knew my face without makeup, I don’t think I gave it any consideration, as if my real face was the made up one, rather than the other way round. I enjoyed shopping for makeup, getting lost in the endless options and trying new colours out. I wasn’t very creative with my clothes, I wore the same kind of basic pieces in various colours but didn’t even accessorize. With makeup instead I i was more extravagant. Over the years I only saw my face with makeup, without it it looked invisible to me, like a blank canvas, without a painting.
Finally, when I was living in Sydney, I had to wear a very high factor sunscreen all year round because of the strong sun light there is there. I could never leave the house without the highest sun protection on, so that meant I had to put makeup on top of a moisturiser and a thick sunscreen, every day of the year. Eventually, I got sick of putting so much on my skin, and really felt like living with nothing on my skin for a while. When I returned to Italy that’s just what I did the first winter, and I really enjoyed letting my skin and face just be. I also got more in touch with my radical feminist side in the following few years, and lived in close contact with nature. I stopped putting make up altogether and felt such freedom. What a transformation it was. I couldn’t bring myself to put anything on my face anymore, it felt like I was dirtying it somehow, or distorting it. I finally got to know my face as it is, and felt I didn’t want to change or cover up anything, even if my skin certainly isn’t one of the best kinds, with some uneven pigmentation and some acne issues not fully resolved. I enjoyed feeling good in my own skin and comfortable with my face as it is. I didn’t miss makeup but occasionally when I saw a face with some makeup that I thought looked good I felt that it really looked good somehow, it was a nice touch of femininity, though I wasn’t sure why or in what way.
Some months ago I felt like having a break from trousers and just wearing skirts and dresses all the time, so I bought some more of them and really enjoyed getting in touch with a softer more feminine side of me. This soon lead to going out and getting some makeup to wear again.
I wear a burgundy eye shadow and mascara to highlight my eyes and a lip liner to define my lips, and occasionally some powder on my face too. I only wear makeup if I feel like it, so I’ll go anywhere without it, but if I feel like putting some on then I do, sometimes even when I’m at home alone.
I find what I like about wearing some subtle makeup if I feel like it is that it looks feminine, in the sense that it looks like there is some care involved, the same as in a colour coordinated outfit for example. It shows care about appearance, care in creating a look that is appealing and in that way it shows femininity for me. That’s not to say that creating an appealing look is exclusive to femininity, nor that it is the only expression of femininity of course, but it is still a powerful and effective one probably.
Clearly I don’t feel less feminine without makeup, and I think it’s great to be able to wear no makeup at all in any situation or circumstance, that freedom is very important to me, but it’s also important for me to enjoy creating a look, and that includes putting some makeup to do this too. In the same way in all aspects of life it’s nice to keep a balance between being free and caring, between not giving a damn and just being happy the way one is and caring about creating beauty and doing well whatever one does.
So, I like my life with and without makeup.