It’s hard to believe I have a middle schooler. What?!? I know I’m not telling you parents anything new. Time flies. They grow up so fast. Don’t blink. So with decorating her locker and back to school shopping and all the other prep for this new chapter and a new year at a new school, we also hit the cosmetics section at Target. A little e.l.f. blush in a sweet, pale peach, some concealer and a subtle lip gloss. Just enough and not too much.
When I was first allowed to wear makeup, I loved it. Couldn’t get enough. Getting ready. Big hair. Lots of mascara. I am, after all, a born and raised Texas girl who hit middle school in the day of HUGE bangs Aqua-netted to hell and back and plenty of purple eyeshadow.
My first job out of college was reporting at the NBC affiliate in Lubbock. After I was promoted to 5 o’clock anchor, more people around town started to recognize me. I became obsessed with being camera ready at all times. Going to the grocery store? Let’s apply some eye liner. Walgreen’s for toilet paper? Get that lip gloss on. I thought people would be so disappointed if they saw any other version of me than the one on TV.
It became a problem in my personal life. No more casual Sunday jaunts to the movies; I needed prep time! I wouldn’t even go to lunch or dinner with my parents without a full face on. It was ridiculous and funny enough, I slowly ended up disliking the makeup. Hated buying it, hated doing it. I was totally sick of it because I had made it such a “thing.” If in some freak situation I happened to be without it and ran into someone I knew, I would apologize for how terrible I looked. Again, so ridiculous. Still, I could not let go of wearing it and feeling the need to be “done.”
After I left the TV news business we moved to Dallas and I stayed home with my girls. I did a 180. The people in our neighborhood didn’t know I had ever even been on television so I left that camera ready version of myself on the shelf. During the day I wouldn’t wear a stitch of makeup. I was in a ball cap, messy bun, clean faced and didn’t give a rat’s mascara wand about it. Tooling around town in my mom mobile, slinging chicken nuggets and changing diapers. Why would I need lipstick? Ever? Take that, makeup! I would put it on for a night out or if I was meeting friends for lunch, but compared to what I used to wear, I was pretty naked most of the time.
The truth was none of it–the heavy makeup days and the sparse makeup days–had anything to do with the makeup. It was all about how I felt about me. And for so long I felt like I needed the makeup to be pretty. To be beautiful. To be accepted. Then I felt like I needed to rebel against the makeup for holding me hostage. For making me feel like I needed it. Yeah…it was the makeup’s fault! But really, I just didn’t feel good about me. Inside.
When I got hired for my current job I was going back on air and that meant I had to get my game face and my makeup face back on daily. But by now I was older and wiser. Don’t get me wrong; I was scared you-know-what-less to come back into tv after 8 years out of the game. But I had kept three little people alive right? So surely I could help make a cocktail on tv. I had also been through some personal stuff that made me dig deep into me. I found out more about who I was and I had surprised myself with strength, endurance and ability. And that felt good INSIDE. It felt beautiful, too; a different more powerful kind of beautiful.
Makeup and I have “made up” and I once again love it and call it a friend. I know I don’t “need” it at all times. At work, yes. At events, yes. But running around town on the weekends, I rarely put it on and it feels good. My skin can breathe. I feel free and clean. And I know I am a good person and there is beauty within, so that shows on the outside too because I like me now. When my girls say “Mom I need mechanical pencils at Target,” or I need to pick them up from a birthday party, I go as is. I even post Instagram stories wearing my retainers and Clearasil. This is real life! Not every minute is photoshoot worthy and that makes me real and that makes me happy. Because the weight of a thousand bottles and tubes and palettes isn’t on my shoulders anymore. The makeup is there to do what it’s supposed to do: to have fun with. To play with. To enjoy and experiment with. But not to make or break my day.
So on the morning of the first day of 6th grade, I helped my baby dab on a little concealer, apply the blush to the apple of her cheeks and swipe on some lip gloss. I could tell she felt good but I could also tell her excitement about the day was what was lighting her up from the inside. And off she went.
The next day before we loaded up in the car I saw her put on just her lip gloss before leaving it along with the other stuff on the bathroom counter. She said “Mom it’s fun and thank you for buying it for me, but I know I don’t need it every day.” No baby, you don’t. Use it when you want to and leave it when you don’t. She is beautiful just the way she is. And so are you. And so am I.