From the time I was able to wear make up- which was 15, until now, at age 60, I gird my loins and swallow hard every time I look for what I laughingly call foundation.
Why do I even bother?
It’s complicated – I’m a femme/butchy combo who loves girly stuff, a Mejicana daughter of another Mejicana – who by the way was a former Maybelline cosmetics model.
I am also someone who has struggled with the bombardment of shame about “looking good”; i.e.: pretty enough by white standards. Years in, I still fight the good fight to carve out a sense of myself as beautiful.
Here’s the most recent struggle- harder to identify and fight because it came in the package of a smiling, white, liberal “friend.” This person was selling cosmetics as a sideline. What’s not to like? We work together and she’s bouncy, funny, maybe not on my wavelength, but hey, I can buy some foundation and maybe do a solid.
Going through the catalog was revisiting the wounding that you absorb like it’s the air around you. You look, and you look, and no color listed seem to match the face you see in the mirror. There’s no shade called Media Mestiza Diosa with a dash of Sun Kissed.
I picked “Neutral” and ordered it. When it arrived, it was the color of wallpaper paste. I guess “Neutral” meant anemic white girl. I exchanged it and tried again….three times.
All during this process my “friend’s” agitation was building. With each order I could see and feel her frustration, even though she kept saying: “I just want you to be happy.”
Finally with the last order, she said. “I’ve never had anyone have as much trouble as you.” I paid her, because, well, that’s what you do. And when I got home that night the first thing I did was toss it into the garbage can.
Even as I write this, I feel that clutch in my chest, that sadness of “not being OK.” But I keep on. And I understand.
Insisting on your own space, your own face, and refusing to be erased is trouble.