“Mom, Why Do You Wear Makeup?”

“Mom, why do you wear makeup?”

makeupI glanced over in the midst of applying concealer to some very dark undereye circles to find Nathan watching me intently. His question gave me pause. Why do I wear makeup? Well, the honest answer is because I feel prettier when I wear it. But I couldn’t say that. Not when I spend all day every day trying, very intentionally, to teach my children that they are enough, just as they are. That everyone is enough, just as they are. That lesson gets shot to hell if I admit that I don’t feel “enough” over something as silly as missing mascara.

So I hedged and fumbled and ultimately redirected by asking Nathan what books he was excited about getting at the library. Sufficiently distracted, he began analyzing the merits of Nate the Great versus Clifford the Big Red Dog, and I was free to finish getting ready without further self-evaluation.

Or so I thought. I’ve revisited the question in my mind several times since, and I’ve still yet to come up with an answer I’m not embarrassed to admit to anyone other than myself. I don’t like to admit my dependence on makeup. I rationalize it, because it’s not an expensive hobby – you won’t find anything in my makeup bag that can’t be found in the aisles at Target (that statement is true for more than my makeup bag, but I digress). I justify it with my speed – if I can apply a full face of makeup, eyeliner included, in less than five minutes, I can’t be that high maintenance, right?

But the truth is, it’s carefully constructed daily armor. If I can hide my insecurities along with the signs of a sleepless night, maybe I’ll be more likeable. It’s a buffer between me and everyone else; another way to hide the real me and keep the version with the prettier packaging on display.

It’s not a truth I’m proud of. It’s another disconnect between the lesson I want to impart to my children and the example I’m providing. Maybe at 32 it’s time I settle more comfortably into my own, pale skin. Let the contents of my makeup bag be more about adding a little polish and a little fun, and less about being what I need to face the world each day.

I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. In a couple of years, when Ellie asks, hopefully I’ll be ready.

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