2018 is filled with a bunch of firsts and lasts.
This year, we witnessed SpaceX’s maiden voyage. We also saw Elon Musk and Grimes’ inexplicable love affair bloom. We said goodbye to Marvel’s co-creator, Stan Lee. We even witnessed the fall of Marvel’s Netflix franchise. And in a more personal, anti-climatic turn of events—I learned how to do makeup for the first time in my life. But I learned it not from my mother nor any of my female friends. I learned it from my boyfriend.
Before anything, let’s answer one question first: Why did I put off learning makeup for so long?
For a decade, I showed no interest in makeup. I have no idea what contouring is until the year. Take me highlighter shopping? I will only assume you’ll be taking me to Office Warehouse. I was clueless.
My choice is not a revolt against the makeup industry’s standards for women. Though admittedly, that’s problematic. But I bet my excuse is even more problematic than that.
I felt I was above a lot of feminine aspects for most of my life.
Here’s my defacto excuse for not doing makeup: “Dude, it’s too taxing and I’m a low maintenance chick. Makeup’s just not for me.” People laugh it off or agree with me. But I know deep down that I’m lying.
The truth is: makeup is beneath me. Or at least, that’s what I felt. I felt I was above a lot of feminine aspects for most of my life. Patriarchy affects our development as people one way or another. Mine made me hate my sex.
My internal misogyny made me arrogant towards anything feminine. I inexplicably hate the color pink. I greeted confident women wearing skimpy shorts with a glare and silent judgment. I preferred male friends to learn how to be stoic.
But as I grew older and wiser, I stopped. Feminism entered my life at the age of 16. I dropped the “one of the boys” act and asked myself where my arrogance came from. Why do I scorn on anything feminine? What deluded me to this Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me” fantasy?
My low self-esteem is a product of how society sees women and what they expect from my gender.
Then it hit me. I don’t really hate women. I just hated myself.
My insecurity is the hardest aspect of my life that I had to face. I still deal with it constantly. It made my day to day life as a young woman harder. My low self-esteem is a product of how society sees women and what they expect from my gender.
“This is as good as its going to get.” I carried that one line from The Princess Diaries for years. In my darkest hours, I say it back to myself, beating my self-esteem to a pulp. I will never be the epitome of a woman, I didn’t deserve my femininity, and I didn’t deserve to take care of myself. These statements plague me in my lowest points. It’s worst when my depression and anxiety hits.
2018 is when I finally admitted to myself that I’m tired of hating me.
This endless boxing match with my self-esteem needs to stop. I’m tired of judging my sex because the rest of the world does, too. I knew right there and then that this is the time to reclaim my femininity.
To be honest, I didn’t do it for me. I did it for the people who mourn every time I lash out at myself. They are family. My boyfriend is also no exception.
He’s the witness of my breakdowns, from tears on my pillow to crying in the middle of a bar parking lot in Magallanes. The worst is when I punch bedroom walls. He stays silent until I find some calm. But it’s never a calm, only the sheer defeat when my fists and heart start to ache.
My straight boyfriend respected femininity early on more than I did in the past years.
This is why I tried to embrace self-care and my femininity for the year. My unofficial first step for this? Learning how to do makeup for the first time. And he helped me.
To make it clear, he didn’t learn makeup as a guise to win my heart. This isn’t a noble knight gesture. It’s just a skill that’s innate in him. I mean, he took makeup workshops before he even knew my name.
“When I was a kid, I watched my mother put on makeup. I thought of it as an art form,” he mentioned when I asked what led him to pick up the skill. He didn’t learn it for kicks or any other agenda. He just respected it. My straight boyfriend respected femininity early on more than I did in the past years. It’s a weird dynamic. But my open-minded ass says, Who gives a shit? That’s why I let him teach me.
He taught me with no judgment on both of our parts. I accepted he’s better than me in makeup, while he accepted that insecurity fucked me over. All we know throughout those months of learning was we’re fighting it together.
Envision a Rocky training montage. But this time, we traded punching bags and boxing gloves for eyeshadow palettes and foundation creams. My boyfriend taught me the ABCs of makeup, from blush to the vitality of contouring.
He executed and preached. In return, I listened and picked up as much as I can. I learned the wonders of putting a bit of eyeliner near my waterline. For blush on, it’s either put a hint of it or none at all. It was a lot of trial and error. More than I have the patience for. Step by step, it paved the way to a pivotal point in my life.
I accepted he’s better than me in makeup, while he accepted that insecurity fucked me over. All we know throughout those months of learning was we’re fighting it together.
2018 is the year I traded baby powder and lipstick for a 15-minute morning ritual.
As I said, I’m low maintenance. That’s the one truth beneath my excuse. My makeup routine is simple: foundation, setting powder, eyebrow, eyeshadow, eyeliner, lipstick, and setting spray. Nothing really fancy. I don’t even know if my way is the right way. I couldn’t really care less. What I am certain of is how it makes me feel—empowered.
In all sheer honesty, putting on makeup made me feel like a warrior, getting ready for battle. That’s not leftover “one of the boys” mentality taking over. It’s just really how it feels. For the first time in my life, I didn’t hate what I saw in the mirror. And it’s the best feeling in the world.
The beauty of it how I learned makeup is not forced upon me. It’s not the society that pressured me. It’s not my mother nor my boyfriend who told me that it’s a necessity. I didn’t learn makeup for anybody but myself.
Makeup is not a necessity. For women like me, what’s important is we have control on what empowers us.
Makeup is not a necessity. For women like me, what’s important is we have control on what empowers us. Breaking gender stereotypes is a huge empowering feeling. But personally, not worrying about being “too girly” is what did it for me.
My boyfriend played a huge role in that. This isn’t to say that self-empowerment is only achievable through a romantic relationship. But if I’m being frank, the road to self-care is a journey not to be taken alone.
Self-care is a fucking rollercoaster. It’s been a two-year journey. And like my clinical depression, it’s inconsistent. It’s never all highs or all lows—but a loop de loop. What made it bearable is a super system, consisting of people who care and people who you can learn from.
2018 is the year I started taking care of myself. And in 2019, I plan to keep on journeying. At least now I know how to keep my face beat for the Gods while doing so.
Art by Marx Fidel