I haven’t always quite known how it started. Or when, for that matter. I think it was maybe around two years ago? Before then, I didn’t really see the point. I didn’t want to draw attention to my face or any part of myself for that matter. Even though I had colourful hair at times, it was just because I thought it looked cool. My eyebrows were the first thing to develop, I do know that. Before that point, I would only wear mascara and some black kohl liner if I felt like it. I don’t mean my actual eyebrow hair, of course I’ve had that since birth, but the ritual of drawing them on. When I look back at photos of how my eyebrows used to be before I started messing with them I’m horrified I walked around like that, but then when I look at how I started drawing them on in the beginning, I’m even more horrified. I thought the bigger and bolder I drew them on, the less fat and round my face would look, sort of using my brows as a way to ‘break up’ my face. My mum always told me I had a face that was round like the Moon, and I guess, amongst a lot of other things, it stuck with me.
Of course this was ridiculous. I would fill them in with dark brown powder and people would comment on them, in a sort of polite way, but still, I knew they thought I looked crazy. I didn’t care. I thought my eyebrows looked mint. Looking back, I was so deluded. As the years went on the way I drew them on developed and I’m at a point now where I can’t actually leave the house without drawing them on. I get them tinted now, and I’m actually really blessed with magnificent natural arches if I do say so myself, so having them tinted is a win win for me. I don’t have to worry about them as much these days, which is good, because I worry about them a lot. Like, a lot. I cracked my brow bone on a shelf at work last week with so much force I felt sick and there were black spots in my vision when I blinked, and upon telling my boss what I done and discovering she wanted to put a cold compress on the area I was horrified when I realised that my perfectly drawn on right arch would probably rub off with the moisture of the compress. I began to cry.
The room was full. My boss, my other boss, and someone from another company who we work with on a regular, and while they were concerned with the fact I had limited vision and nausea all I could say was “But my eyebrow is going to rub off and I haven’t got anything to draw it back on with so I’m gonna have to rub the other one off then I’m gonna have to go home…” and they kept telling me it was fine, it was still there, and more importantly how was my vision? I couldn’t care less about my vision or the nausea rising in my throat. All I cared about was the fact it was two days before my tint appointment and my natural brows were pretty, well… natural. Dark blonde, with a little bit of dark brown. Hideous in my opinion. With nothing to break up my disgustingly round face, I wouldn’t be able to confidently talk to people, or I’d talk to people but I’d look dead behind the eyes, glassed over with no emotion. Shut down, in defence mode, running on minimal interaction and expression and emotion. My brows are tinted now four days later, and I’m relieved. I’m still ugly, but it takes the edge off a little.
I was drawing my brows on for about two years before the rest of the makeup came. It took a while for me to understand that. When it started, it was purely innocent. It was fun, and my job at the time required me to write blogs and articles about certain products, one of our clients being a cosmetics wholesaler. So, in the interests of doing well in my new job and honing my skills as a copywriter, I started buying a ton of makeup products at wholesale prices (I’m talking 35p for a lip liner here!) in order to write a decent and informative article. It was definitely innocent. I guess it was an accident when it turned sinister. Sinister seems such a dark word, but really, on my bad days, that’s what it is. So many girls say they wear makeup for them, to look glam for themselves or because it’s fun to play with glitter and colour and they’re right, it is fun. Sometimes that’s what it is for me, I’ll sit with my music on and get creative and takes lots of selfies and post them to Instagram. Sometimes, most days, a lot of the time, it’s the first thing I do when I wake up. I stumble out of bed and have a wash, then head straight to my bedroom to put my makeup on. Oh, you’re so talented, they say. That eyeshadow looks so pretty, what is it? It really suits you, I hear. It really compliments your eyes. Well, thanks for that, I know you mean it, but I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you that I’ve got makeup skills and I don’t believe that my eyeshadow looks pretty. It’s not there to look pretty or to show off my skills with a flat packing brush and a tapered crease brush. It’s there to hide every single flaw on my face.
My eyeshadow hides the fact that I have really big eyes that make me look like a fish. Speaking of fish, if you’ve seen Sword in The Stone and remember that horrible big fish that chased Arthur and Merlin in the moat, that’s what I see when I look in the mirror. My lips turn down on one side and up on the other making them really asymmetrical and lopsided. The top lip is too thin. I desperately want fillers but I’d feel like such a crap mum if I spend that much money on one thing when we could use that money on food and bills, even though everything is paid already this month. I feel so selfish for even wanting fillers when they cost that much. My cheeks have weird hollows in them even though they’re chubby. My neck is chubby too. I hate my forehead because it’s got this odd crease in it, probably from all the frowning I do and my hair line is uneven so on one side I have a forehead and the other side is, well, I’ve heard people refer to their own as a fivehead. I guess that’s what I’ve got but only on one side. My hair hides it. I don’t like wearing it up because I look like a cross between Phil Mitchell and a jacket potato. If I’m hot and scoop it all up I always pull some bits down so it isn’t harsh and it looks a bit more natural. My lip liner hides the fact that my lips are so uneven. It takes me a good ten minutes to line my lips, or over line should I say. I wear foundation to cover all the lines and shadows and concealer under my eyes so that it isn’t glaringly obvious that I’ve had a night plagued by bad dreams and broken sleep. I wake up every hour or so some nights so it’s hard to look anything other than a walking pile of crap. I contour in the hope that I look at least a tiny bit slimmer in the face, and I wear blush to bring some colour to my otherwise pasty cheeks. Everything I put on my face is there to hide something.
But like I say, I haven’t always been like this. I’ve always thought I was ugly and other words like that, but I never really felt like I had to hide it. I always felt like this was how I looked and I’m such a shitty person so I deserve to look like this because it was my punishment. But then when I decided I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life a victim, along with the freedom from the abuse came incredible shame when I started to talk about what I’d been through. And that’s when I started to really cake it on. I had to hide my flaws, I just had to. I’d opened a floodgate and told people what happened to me, now they knew and they had those images and my words in their heads and then there I was going about my day as if I hadn’t dropped that bombshell three day previously. What a selfish twat I turned out to be. Talking about it made it real and for a while I accepted that. I wasn’t going to be ashamed anymore. I knew talking would help. And yet the more I felt able to talk, the more the fall out consumed me. Not only did I feel ugly because I was brought up to believe I was, I felt ugly because my insides were ugly. My story was ugly. I felt ruined. I still do most days. So I put makeup on hide it all, to tell a different story, but it’s a fictional one. Of course you can’t change your past but you can pretend it never happened which is what I do a heck of a lot of the time. I know that’s bad for me, but nobody seems to quite understand enough to help me through it.
Then come the days when I don’t wear any makeup at all and god bless them, people say I look so much better without it all. They’re so positive, telling me they’re glad I’ve gone barefaced and that I’m so much prettier and they can see what I really look like. Poor them, I think. Poor bastards, seeing my real face. One time someone came up to me and cupped my face telling me I looked fine and to stop worrying about not bringing a lip liner to work. I could have cried. I felt so guilty inflicting my face on her. I felt terrible. Truth is, the days when I don’t wear any makeup at all, are the days when I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror at all, not even for a second. I cannot even put my head up walking past the mirror in the morning. Those days are the worst. Those days I feel repulsive. Those days I believe every single bad thing said about me. Those days are the days I wonder what would happen if I started walking home from work and just kept walking instead of stopping at my house. Those are the days when I pray that nobody tests me, because I’m so unstable I’m not sure what I’ll do. Those are the days when I feel I have nothing to lose. I’m not really me on those days. I try, but it doesn’t really work. I tell myself it’s okay, that it’s temporary, but I don’t want to listen. I’m numb those days, empty. Just a shell. Dead inside.
So when people tell me that less is more, or that I look fine without all my makeup, or they tell me I’m daft for saying I look like a bowl of rice pudding, they just don’t get it. I’m not vain, I’m just scared. In my head every day all I hear are my demons chasing me asking me in between peals of laughter who the hell do I think I am walking amongst these clean humans when I’m so rotten inside? Telling me I do not belong, telling me that the only thing I am good for is hiding away from the rest of the world because I bring nothing to it other than inconvenience and misery. Telling me that no matter how hard I try to fit in and to talk to people and make attempts to blend in with the rest of society, in reality it’s a futile and pathetic endeavour because I am too damaged. Beyond repair. A write off. And you know what’s even scarier than hearing that in your head all day? Realising that you’re starting to finish the sentences off as verbatim, and believing it just as you believe water is wet and gravel is dry, knowing it just like you know your own name and knowing you’re left or right handed. That’s when you accept that this is your life. And that no matter what anyone says or does, you’ll never feel comfortable in your own skin. Ever. You can pretend, you can paint on a smile, you can say hello and interact and join in even though it stings you, you can go through the motions and act like everyone else around you, but the truth is, sometimes, you’re just too damaged, irreparable. You’re ruined. There’s no coming back from that I don’t think.