If the DSM III had recognized a disorder characterized by an unhealthy obsession with makeovers and shiny purple eye shadow they’d have locked me up and thrown away the key.
I’m not sure when it started. My earliest memory is seeing the little plastic Avon case of power blue eye shadow in my mother’s makeup bag and thinking it was achingly glamorous. At the peak of my neurosis, around 15 years of age, I was taking a solid hour to apply my makeup. One. Solid. Hour. The shiny purple color went on the lid, then blue in the eyelid crease, then a shimmery pink on the brow bone. If it wasn’t perfect I’d start over, much to the dismay of my mother and my homeroom teacher (I was perpetually late for school because of this). It was flawlessly applied and my girlfriends were jealous. (No, really, they were! It was the 80s, you had to be there.)
I modeled briefly in my early teen years. I loved having people fussing over my face, and more than that I loved knowing they cared as much as I did about getting it JUST RIGHT. This experience made me quite the makeup authority among my girlfriends. Every sleepover included a makeover.
As I got older the colors changed and the application duration decreased, but my obsession with makeup didn’t diminish at all. I loved to shop for new makeup. I loved all the colors, and the sparkly-ness. I especially loved the packaging; all that potential just waiting for me to open it! I might not even like the product itself but if the packaging was sublime it was coming home with me. I sigh audibly just thinking about the Chanel and Bobbi Brown counters.
Lipstick is my Achilles heel. Even to this day, if I buy a Nars lipstick I will prolong opening the packaging, and then I will hold on to the boxes for several hours, maybe even a day before throwing them away. And there’s still something special about an untouched stick of lipstick. When you first twist it up from the tube and it’s so perfectly shaped, so smooth and so…iconic. Lipstick IS femininity. No matter how awkward or tomboyish or shy you might be, lipstick could transform you into a version of Marilyn Monroe, Linda Carter as Wonder Woman, or any of Charlie’s Angels (except Kate Jackson).
As I approached my 30s I began to realize I was carting around boxes of barely used makeup from place to place. I tried to purge, with limited success. Ironically, the older I got the less makeup I wore, which made hauling it all around that much more ridiculous. I did some serious culling of the herd, and I’m now down to a manageable single box of “special occasion” makeup. I never use anything in that box but I can’t bring myself to part with it yet. Not even the 10 tubes of lipstick in variations of the same (fabulous) shade.
Now at 40 I can walk by Sephora without being compelled to go in. If I do go in for something I almost always leave with ONLY that thing I intended to buy. Almost always. Unless Nars comes out with a new lipstick.
Is my writing a Beauty Blog a little like a diabetic opening a bakery? Maybe. I like to think of it as embracing a long-lost friend. I’m not sure why we lost touch but we’ve got catching up to do!
Images: author’s own; Korey Howell Photography