I used to hate my mother’s no makeup policy. Until my sister and I were 16, neither of us were allowed to wear makeup. Maybe a little lip gloss and eyeliner once we started high school, but that was it. I distinctly remember my mom telling me, “The more makeup you wear now, the more you’ll need it when you get older.” She held fast to her no-makeup policy because she didn’t want us to grow up quickly or to feel that we needed makeup to be beautiful.
As a teenager, it was hard to accept her terms, especially because it seemed like other friends of mine were given the green light to rock whatever they wanted. I was never made fun of because I couldn’t wear makeup, but during my teen years was when I first started thinking that for someone to be more attractive, they had to wear makeup. Like many teen girls, I wanted the attention of boys and thought makeup may help me stand out. Now I know that thinking is super wack, but young me wasn't as wise.
Still, my mom didn’t budge. My abuela had imposed the same rules on her, so she had no sympathy to my teenage plight. I had to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, and if anyone was going to be attracted to me, it’d be more about who I was than how I looked. Fortunately, I never encountered anyone who ever said anything negative about my lack of makeup.
Looking back, I realize my confidence in going makeup-free came from a more subconscious place. Neither my mom nor my aunts wore a ton of makeup. It never took my mom hours to get ready, nor did I ever hear her fussing over her face. She would constantly say she “felt naked” without her lipstick, but that’s about it.
My older sister also made a significant impact on my makeup choices. She and I both have dark under eye circles (though mine are definitely darker). I remember being deeply self-conscious about them, but my sister would often go out without concealer. There was nothing apologetic or bashful about her decision. She was raw and beautiful.
Seeing the women I love and admire rocking a bare face influenced me to also rely on my inner beauty. Now, as an older, and I’d like to hope, wiser woman, I appreciate my mother’s decision tremendously. Today, I barely wear makeup. On days when I head out, my regimen consists mostly of under eye concealer, eyeliner, mascara, and some bronzer, but that's about it.
I don’t need makeup to feel beautiful. In fact, I feel comfortable in my skin when I’m bare-faced. I don’t feel the need to fuss with it to enhance what I was born with. This is not to say I don’t like makeup. Trust me when I say that I absolutely believe under eye concealer is a gift from God. Makeup has the incredible power to make someone feel bold, empowered, beautiful, and sexy. I just think that makeup should be used from a place of desire, not a place of need.
I remember when my 11-year-old cousin came over to a family party wearing a red-tinted lip gloss and mascara. My mom quickly ushered her to the bathroom to wipe this makeup off. This was not about silencing her expression of self, but rather about reminding this 11-year-old girl that she is beautiful the way she is. She’s already shown a keen interest in makeup, so I’m sure that as she gets older she’ll doll herself up some more. But I hope she never grows up feeling like she’s only pretty when she’s done up.
I thank God for all my mom taught me about loving myself with no filter. And when the day comes for me to have a child, I intend to raise them the same way.