OK, So.. I’m a girl. I like, wear makeup and have long hair and have an interest in fashion. I don’t have a model figure so I do like to wear a bit of eyeliner and mess up my hair now and then, it makes me feel good- what of it? This is not going to be a feminist rant about how women don’t need makeup. Nobody needs makeup, if they want to wear it and it makes them feel good then go right ahead, you can wear as much or as little as you wish. Nobody is telling you you can’t wear red eyeliner, nor paint on leopardprint. Nobody is telling you not to do whatever it is that gives you confidence.
I have found myself working with a couple of Makeup artists lately and am fascinated by the transformative aspects. This is not just a bit of lippy, this is full visual augmentation, the building blocks of what I then go on to work with in Photoshop.
Before I go any further I should probably mention how I became obsessed with the beauty tutorials on Youtube. I found one by accident after watching a Kimbra video (incidentally her maquillage is always flawless) and sat consequently sat through a Lady Gaga, A Cheryl Cole and numerous other “sleb” homages (if you value your life then for the love of Jesus, give “The Katy Perry” look a wide berth). I noticed that by far and away, the most copied “celebrity” is Kim Kardashian. I’d like to also state at this juncture that I don’t know a lot about Kim- I have no interest in keeping up with her, or her Kardashian fellows and even now I have no idea why she is even famous. But anyway; her colouring is similar to mine and to me at least, she always looks stunning. In a very made up way of course, but still stunning.
Hello Kim Kardashian
So anyway, she is pretty foxy. Aside from having dark hair, eyes and a vagina of my very own.. I look nothing like her.
And herein lies the rub, suddenly you CAN look like her, or Gaga or any other “celeb”. All with a bit of judicious makeup application! Right?… Wrong.
I am no novice to makeup, I have worn eyeliner since I was about 12, my makeup routine is pretty much unchanged but I do wear some almost every day, if leaving the house. I feel better with it on and its not so much about looking “good” as looking normal. I think we learn a lot from our Mothers, I recall my own Mum being impossibly glamorous in a way that I never truly understood until I hit my late teens. That said, I believe that you need to feel comfortable with what is underneath the makeup, It still creeps me out when you see people without a full face on and they look totally unrecognisable. Makeup is to enhance, after all.
With and Without
What first alarmed me that the look I chose to recreate called for a whole 10 min video on HOW TO DO THE BASE. That is an entire separate tutorial for covering ones skin in several layers of foundation.
I guess I should have started to worry when the guy cheerfully announced he was going to paint a triangle shape on the cheeks in a shade “lighter than the natural skintone”. This is something that my friends do before they go onstage- those friends are Drag Queens. We then proceed to contouring the cheeks with 2 shades of bronzer and another of blush, followed by something frightening using a small brush and the sides of your nose. I skipped that bit, I dont have enough brushes and my nose is big enough, thank you very much. Just when you think he is done, you are required to cover your cheeks with a thick layer of powder to catch the “fallout” from the eyeshadow you are doubtless going to trowel on. I am not so sure I am entirely down with a makeup routine that affiliates itself to Nuclear warfare.
After repeated steps and fearing my face was going to crack I stopped and switched to the eyemakeup video.
Eyemakeup is where I am most at home, I can do eyemakeup, eyemakeup is easy. All that is different from Kim and Me are about 5 eyeshadow shades, some glitter and some false eyelashes.
Already we run into problems here, I don’t have the correct products. My eyeshadow collection is a bit poor so I have to improvise. I feel unprepared, a lesser woman. I feel Kim has exposed me as a phoney sham of womanhood, as if suddenly having 76 shades of taupe eyeshadow is what automatically happens when you turn 21. I do, however do a small whoop of excitement when the tutorial person suggests a shade of eyeshadow that he suspects KIM ACTUALLY USES (Urban Decay eye mono in Midnight Cowboy) I was given this Christmas 2009 and have used it precisely once. No matter that it throws specks of glitter into my eyes, peppering my cheeks with disco tears, Kim uses it. I shall use it.
Oh Kim, why must you cause me so much heartache?
We are now about 1hr and 45 mins into all the buffing and blending. I have decided not to go for lip colour. I am late to meet my friends, my skin can’t breathe and I look like a Trannsexual. I am only wearing Jeans and a t shirt but I feel like I am preparing for the Oscars. It is the words “And now we apply the lash glue!” that make me hit pause and take a few deep breaths. I opt for 4 coats of mascara and leave it at that. One thing I do have is very long eyelashes and I refuse to weigh my eyes down any more.
I peer in the tiny mirror. I take a photo on my iPhone. er…
I mean, its fine. I look fine. I look very made up kind of fine. I look like me but with oddly perfect skin and doe eyes. my eyes look brighter and my cheekbones are razor sharp (I did after all use an old train ticket to contour them) in the dim light of my bedroom (by the time I have completed this routine the sun has set) I look alright. Its just a lot more makeup that I would usually wear, that’s all. A lot more. The whole routine has called for just under 20 products, every single element of my face has been worked on, in order for me to paint this face on I have had to use almost every single item in my own makeup bag, and a few that are languishing in my drawer- the products I never use/bought in a moment of madness or simply didn’t think I needed. A few hours in and I am noticing things, flecks of cocoa powder clinging to my undereye concealer, small dots under my eyebrows where my lashes have marked my eyelids, a streak of natural skin beneath the dewily applied base where a stray tear of mirth escaped, carving its own path down the bronzer and blusher Sahara of my face. A face like this needs work, I realise that looking like this requires touchups and maintenence, my face has become needy and demanding of my time.
And that is the thing, however much we like to wear makeup, however much it boosts our confidence, makes us look good etc, we never want to feel totally reliant on it. It is the reason why brides are so scared to entrust their face to a professional on their wedding day, the reason why clients don’t like to know how much Photoshop goes into their images. Compared to my daily routine this feels like a complete mask altogether, though in comparison I still look like me. Admittedly I don’t go in for all these fancy techniques and blending but is my daily metric mile of eyeliner any different, aside from the fact it takes 30 seconds to apply and I don’t have to worry about it all day? I have learnt some really good techniques which I may possibly need on very bad days but the truth is, I am lazy. I don’t want to spend 2 hrs painting my face, I don’t want to have to use a packet of face wipes and destroy a flannel removing the fruits of my labours. At best I want people to glance my way and not scream in terror, to make this happen I want to spend as little time as possible on it, otherwise I may start thinking “God I need a lot of work”. If Men can do it, so can I.