Published: Monday May 21, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday May 26, 2013 MYT 2:04:57 PM

The make-up message

It’s a liberating experience for the woman who has the confidence to present herself as she pleases.

HILLARY Clinton made major headline news last week when she stopped off in Bangladesh in her capacity as the American Secretary of State with almost no make-up on. Like, what in God’s name was she thinking?

Personally, I don’t care if a woman wears make-up or not, but Hilary has just gone and broken the Golden Rule of Make-up, which states that once you start wearing it, you can only stop at your own peril.

When people see you with full make-up on everyday, they generally associate you with the look you’ve created. So when you suddenly strip away the mask, they are often taken aback because you look different.

Hillary has been seen wearing make-up long before she and Bill took over the White House. It’s always been part of her public face, but now that public face looks tired and drawn and older … When we look at her now, instead of thinking about the crises that she’s trying to avert and the great public relations job that she’s doing, we see sun spots and wrinkles and little spidery capillaries around her nose … Blemishes that most of us have at her age. Blemishes that we seldom notice forming on the faces of our loved ones, because they occur gradually. But with Hillary, there was no gradual public display. Just a sudden, stark unveiling in Bangladesh for all the world to see. Like, whoa!

But Hillary really doesn’t give a toss. And you’ve got to admire her for that. She knows she’s proven herself more than capable in her field, and can present herself as she pleases. I love her confidence. If only more women felt that way, without the need to be Secretary of State at the same time.

At the other extreme, I know a woman who wears make-up all the time, even when she goes to bed. Her husband has never seen her naked face. She gets up before him every morning, removes her make-up, has a shower, and then reapplies her make-up before he wakes up. Like, how tedious is that? How about some extra sleep for a change? And what about all that make-up smeared over her pillows? And more importantly, does she really think that he thinks that she looks like that all the time?

What if something were to happen to her, and he had to go to the local morgue to identify her body? If she doesn’t have any distinguishing moles or scars on her body, he might not recognise her scrubbed face in the body bag.

“Nah, that’s not my Lucy,” he might say. “Lucy has really long eyelashes, a flawless skin and lips the colour of crushed damsons.”

And if you finally convinced him that it is indeed Lucy, he might feel cheated – that he never got to see the real woman. That he fell in love with an illusion.

As a woman, I would want to be able to expose my nakedness to my partner, warts and all, and for him to gaze upon my imperfections and still find me beautiful. And if he didn’t find the nude me attractive, I would max out his credit cards, shred his suits, and dump him for someone who does.

I used to date a man who disliked make-up, which is kind of odd when I think about it, because the first time we met, I was wearing make-up. And throughout the first year of our relationship, I wore make-up when I went out with him. Then one day, he announced that he would prefer it if I didn’t wear make-up.

The idea scared the bejeezus out of me, but I complied. What can I say? It was a long time ago and I was eager to please.

A pattern was then established: whenever I was with him I would “dowdify” myself, as I used to call it, and the minute I was away from him, I would put my make-up on.

Then one evening, when we were having dinner in a restaurant, I caught him ogling another woman – a woman who was so obviously wearing make-up. I wanted to tip his bowl of soup into his lap, but I restrained myself. Instead, I went off to the loo and applied some powder and lipstick and a little bit of eyeliner.

After that incident, my ogle radar was on full alert. And sure enough, a few weeks later, when we were sitting in an Italian restaurant, I saw him glancing a little bit too long at another woman sporting a full face of make-up.

“You know something,” I said, taking a bolstering swig of Chianti, “if you ask for Spaghetti Bolognese, and it’s placed in front of you, it doesn’t make much sense to be drooling at the thought of a plate of lasagna. You need to get your order straight.”

He stared at me without saying a word, which indicated that he understood what I was saying. Either that or he was trying to figure out why I was talking about Spaghetti Bolognese and lasagna when he’d ordered risotto.

When I related this little anecdote to my current partner, a man who doesn’t mind make-up as long as it’s appropriate, he responded by saying that some men don’t like make-up on their partner because it doesn’t taste good.

He so obviously hasn’t tasted crushed damson lipstick before.

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