To line or not to line, that is my decision
She’d been looking at some of my childhood pictures and chanced upon one that was a tradition of sorts among my community.
I am a first generation Indian-Malaysian, whose parents emigrated from Kerala in south-west India to Malaysia in the late 1950s. Along with aspirations for new beginnings, they brought with them some customs “from back home”, which included capturing their offspring’s growth milestone when they learnt to turn on their tummies themselves.
The trademark pose was usually of a baby gawping at the camera, probably shocked by the flash. And regardless of gender, the baby always wore eyeliner.
So my mum-in-law’s observation struck me; my relationship with eyeliner indeed preceded my mastery of the cat eye or bat wing. As a child I’d dreaded the times when my Mum dressed me for any occasion and insisted that my eyes “be drawn.” I’d blink nervously as she dipped the applicator into the tiny pot of kajal that stung when she drew it along my lower waterline.
Makeup however was forbidden at the all-girls missionary school I later attended, and so we eagerly experimented whenever the rare opportunity presented itself. Photos of Christmas plays and school concerts, which were the only times makeup was sanctioned at school, reveal that my friends and I had mastered clown contouring (but not the blending!) decades before it became de rigueur in 2015.
Post-school and during my early working years, I had free rein. I enjoyed experimenting with makeup, poring over fashion magazines and eagerly volunteering for beauty assignments as a break from writing more serious stories.
My eye lining abilities became the stuff of legend. Girlfriends were in awe at how I could effortlessly line my eyes with nary a smudge nor crease. That was also the time when I hardly left home without makeup on, even if it was to get groceries round the corner.
In hindsight, that phase of my life could best be described like the headlines that one often finds on the cover of women’s magazines: be myself, and yet aspire towards something not quite myself.
Eventually, I had a private epiphany. Because let’s face it, makeup is time consuming, and can be hard on your wallet. And, it can be an inhumane industry towards animals on which these products are tested before they land on our vanities.
More importantly, I felt it was being dictated to me. That I’m incomplete without it. And that didn’t sit well with me.
The first time I walked out of the house makeup free was a heady mix of liberty and uncertainty. Liberty, because I’d finally freed myself of literally keeping up appearances. And the uncertainty? Well, it was whether anyone would recognize me!
With the exception of a few who’d asked me if I was unwell, it was business as usual. The difference was I was comfortable in my own skin, on my own terms.
I do however find it amusing how column inches are dedicated towards celebrities who’ve chosen to go make-up free or if it’s their clever use of make-up to look makeup free. Go Google Alicia Keys, and you’ll know what I mean. For in the end, as with everything to do with your self, isn’t it a personal decision?
As for me, I still wear makeup – but whenever I fancy. Besides, there’s more to me than my eyeliner.
Author: Brenda Haas
Editor: Marjory Linardy
This month marks 25 years since the launch of Photoshop. The image editing software has revolutionized the art of photo processing and our perception of reality – from ideals of beauty to media manipulation. (From March 4, 2015)
Almost everyone has an opinion on a woman’s appearance. Some people just have the decency to keep it to themselves. From the length of her skirt, the tightness of her jeans to the depth of her cleavage, from the height of her heels to the color of her lipstick: we are all guilty of judging people by their exterior. (From September 16, 2014)
Mr. Albinism Kenya: ‘Finally we achieved something.’ Kenya has just crowned its first ever Mr. and Miss Albinism. In a region where people living with albinism live in fear of ritual killings, the beauty pageant offered a rare chance for them to show their talents. (From October 29, 2016)
Date13.02.2017 | 15:28