A week or so ago, I reconnected with a photographer friend to set up an appointment for a new headshot. It's been years, and it's time for an update. "I definitely can't use the one you took of me in 2011, as much as I love it. I've changed," I told her. Eyeglasses are now a permanent feature of my face, as are laughlines, and a WiFi signal of wrinkles on my forehead (good connectivity up there!). I got off the phone, smiling after catching up on each other's lives, then thought about my self-care routine, and my face, which would be the front-and-center subject for her camera.
That's all it took for me to start thinking that maybe my real face wasn't quite right. In the early morning hours, I succumbed to an Instagram ad for a foundation that got unrealistically great reviews. It seemed to work for all types of skin. The deal was appealing -- a "try before you buy." I could send it all back if I didn't like it. I took the bait.
Two sleek, black bubble wrapped packages arrived within what seemed like hours. It was as if I'd tapped into some secret service agency dedicated to my self-improvement. My face was an emergency. One of the packages bore a sticker that read, "MORE IS MORE." The other, "YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH." I already hated it. And yet, I was willing to give it a try. I've worn makeup and it really can make me feel good. I don't wear it too often now, unless I'm performing. I keep a favorite tube of lipstick on my desk so I can swipe it on before Zoom meetings. It's a shade of red called, "No Cry."
Shiny, industrial sized, glittering, and almost architectural containers were nestled inside a box filled with black shredded paper. It was like a Gothic Easter basket. The offering here was layers of assistance, and I scored a "free mystery gift" of eyeliner, which I never use, even for stage makeup.
I spent some time applying everything, and began with the concealer, then realized I was doing it wrong, I forgot to put on the underlayer that spackles and primes the pores. Whoops. Well, whatever. I continued on with spackle, then the foundation, and dabbed a little more concealer on here and there and blended. I have a small palette of rosy blush/lip/whatever that I added so I didn't look dead.
Much improved? In an iPhone photo, I guess a smoother, more even toned version of myself shows. But with the closeup inspection of my 10x mirror (required for makeup now that I have old eyeballs), all I saw was the mask that makeup actually is. I thought I'd wear it for the day, and returned to my desk to answer some emails. Then I felt itchy. Were my pores breathing? Was this stuff soaking into my bloodstream? Am I allergic? Suddenly I was wearing a face full of anxiety.
It was on 15 minutes before I ran back upstairs and took it all off. Magic! Human again.