In Defence of Playing Dress Up

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my makeup habits a lot.

Why do I wear this stuff? How I justify hauling a “mask” of sorts around town? What am I trying to prove? What am I trying to hide? 

While sometimes the answer is “Um, obviously you’re trying to hide that pimple, Shauna,” I have realized that these questions as a whole are flawed. My makeup isn’t really a mask.

IMG_8802Story time.

Growing up, my mother rarely wore makeup. She was a low-maintenance country girl and, perhaps more importantly, she had four little people to look after. I was the oldest of these, and the only girl.

On very special occasions, my mother would unleash the mystical cosmetics bag. I would watch, fascinated, as she expertly curled her lashes and powdered her face with whatever-that-stuff-was. She would share her eye shadow with me (just a little bit, just for fun) and I would giggle as I buried my little feet in her size-8 shoes.

Dress up was one of my favourite games.

My day-to-day makeup free momma was no more or less beautiful than the date night version, and she was certainly no more or less my momma. Still, I really dug the special-occasions grooming process. I loved watching my mother ceremonially draw on her face before leaving us with the babysitter. Once, in one of my most embarrassing moments ever, I even stole red nail polish from my her bathroom and tried to use it as lipstick.

(Wait. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on how stupid that was.)

Fast forward through a few face paint faux pas and the turtleneck-centric middle school years, and I found myself in the dress up big leagues. High school meant my choices were endless and personal. It also meant that the factors influencing those choices were complicated. I had more self to express, more peers to please, more categories and clothes and I finally got my ears pierced. 

So I shaved my head, then dyed my hair brown for awhile. I went through everything from au naturel months, to questionably bold colours, earthy tones, pinkish glows, red lipsticks. I wore cowboy boots. I wore sneakers. I wore huge hoop earrings and tiny necklaces. I stole (borrowed?) my mother’s nail polish once again, and actually managed to finally use it right.

This was dress up. This was the same game my mother played when she got ready for a night on the town. The same game I played as a giggly little kid, stumbling around in mom’s shoes with 20 different barrettes falling out of my hair. 

…and it’s the game I play now, as I try on my third outfit and rush through my current eyeliner-infused routine each morning.

And so the questions follow:

Why do I keep playing this game? Am I trying to be something I’m not?

Hardly.

Actually, as I look back on my life, it appears to be quite the opposite: Dress up isn’t about denying who I am. It is a part of who I am.

Is part of the motive to look pretty? Of course it is. I felt pretty in my twenty barrettes when I was five, in my vintage earrings and cowboy boots at 16, and in my big-kid makeup yesterday. No, I don’t believe I owe it to anyone to be consistently attractive (though for some people that’s a thing, and it shouldn’t be). I just believe that feeling pretty feels good. work really freakin’ hard to be beautiful on the inside (not sure if that’s a weird/vain thing to say), so sometimes it’s nice to feel like my face is a part of that. 

Do I try to look pretty for other people sometimes? Of course I do (‘sup, hormones?). But I also try to act nice and be funnier and listen better. Highlighting your best qualities isn’t a bad thing. And getting your game face on (literally) isn’t a bad thing either, not really.

Dress up doesn’t have to be about changing who we are. It can be about expressing and highlighting who we are, where we are, how we are. We just have to own the game.

You’re allowed to wear whatever makes you most comfortable. If that means sweat pants (helloooo Thursday night Netflix!), then great. If that means covering blemishes and highlighting features with a so-called mask of colours and chemicals, then cool.

As for me? Well, I’m just going to stick with what dress up means to me today: Reddish lipstick, blue jeans, and unmatching socks.

IMG_0793(2)Classy is as classy does, folks.

Advertisements

Christmas DIY: Holiday Season Earrings

IMG_0849 (2)

This year, I decided to add a couple things to my holiday season closet. First on the list was a red cocktail dress. It came to my attention earlier this month that my only dress appropriate for any sort of big-kid-party is…well, it fit me in Grade 10? Yeah. Living the dream.

I may need to get rid of some of this high school stuff.

I found the dress (which I will post ALL about soon, dun’worry), and decided was time I put together some Christmas season jewelry. So last night, after mashing up “99 Problems” and “Where’d You Go?” on my keyboard and eating chicken that I’m 80% sure was properly cooked (you know, typical lifestyle choices), I pulled out the old craft supplies.  When my roommate walked in to see my wire, glue, pliers, and bead organizers laid out on across kitchen table, he looked slightly confused.

“I didn’t know you made jewelry.  This explains so much. Like why there are always single earrings lying around.”  He paused. “But it still doesn’t explain why they are always on the first step of the front porch.”

(I promise I’m a good roommate. I think.)

I hadn’t made earrings in far too long, so I put together some simple pieces to start:

Basic beaded earrings
Basic beaded earrings
Red & green chains (the result of a painstaking 20 minutes spent struggling with beading pliers)
Red & green chains
Christmas tree studs
Christmas tree studs

Next, I found some old unused holiday trinkets lying around, like small ornaments and decals.  Using wire & glue, it’s easy to add some earring hooks to just about anything:

 IMG_0878  IMG_0881

IMG_0961 (2)

These are the smallest bulbs from a set of ornaments I bought last year. Facial expression gets the same justification as the first image.
These are the smallest bulbs from a set of ornaments I bought last year.

(Note: Blame the facial expressions and general headspace on the fact that I had just finished “rapping” to my broken keyboard when this picture was taken.  Because that’s what all the cool kids do.  And this is the face all the cool kids make.)

I also decided that this year, I wanted to have some jewelry that connected me to my spirituality–I feel like the usual cross symbol doesn’t really fit the whole birthday theme.  I decided to snip some of bits of the birth story out of the New Testament to make this necklace and earrings:

Matthew on the earrings (1:22-23 and 2:11-12)
Matthew on the earrings (1:22-23 and 2:11-12)
Luke 2:10-15 on the necklace. Pretty sure Charlie Brown and Linus would be down with this one. ;)
Luke 2:10-15 on the necklace. Pretty sure Linus and the rest of the Charlie Brown Christmas crew would be down with this piece. 😉

I’m thinking that’s enough creativity (and patience-testing meddling with wire) for today!  Between the red dress and the Christmas-themed jewelry, I am all set to go for my holiday season shindigs!

[Note:  I ever use the term “holiday season shindigs” in real life just…make me leave.]