At 5, I wanted to be a fairy. Maybe not realistically exist as one, rather become some sort of human replica.
I was envious of their effortless beauty. But with the help of some bright eyeshadow, glittery nail polish and pink gloss smothered in all the wrong places I would dance around the house – convinced of my fairy-like beauty.
At 8, my friend’s parents caked pink coloured foundation on my face, smearing my eyes with thick white and black for my dance recital. They told me, how would anyone in the audience see our pretty faces without it? I wondered why they needed to. The sweat on my skin glistened under the bright lights, the makeup slid from my face to the sound of stagnant clapping, I smiled wide.
At 11, I took a chunk out of my ankle while shaving my legs for the first time. Panicked, my mum warned me I shouldn’t be worried about shaving just yet, I hid in the shower until the blood stopped pouring from the gash. I itched at my dry hairless legs for the next week wondering why I had even bothered.
At 13, I covered myself in layers of fake tan hoping to look like the older girls at my school. Staining my bathroom tiles and sheets with dark, sticky residue was a small price to pay to achieve a glow alike that of a swimsuit model. Rather, I achieved a shade closer to burnt orange – at least I looked like the other girls, I thought.
At 15 my hair went from bleach blond to blood red over-night. I didn’t know what I was supposed to look like anymore. I felt fed up with trying to look like someone else. I didn’t know anyone with red hair.
The rims of my eyes blackened, my eyebrows sharply defined, I felt that I was finally trying to be me. Although, in retrospect I think I was rebelling and trying to be anything except the ‘perfect’ girls I had tried (and failed) to imitate for so many years.
At 18, I forgot about makeup – baring my face within the interior walls of my high school. Until the weekend. I would make up for the whole week by totally transforming each Saturday night before the endless parties, clubs and bars. This is still a ritual I feel creeping back when I go completely makeup free for a period of time or have an event I feel anxious about.
At 20, I moved to a new city, started university, a new job and gained some pretty remarkable friends. The focus I had retained on my appearance, present since before I can remember, dulled slightly. Maybe I’m not completely free of my insecurities and maybe that’s okay.
I still like makeup. I reach for mascara most days and an eye brow gel every other day. But I feel free from trying to resemble something, someone, as unattainable as a mythical creature, and content when I resemble myself.Return to issues