It was just the start of my obsession with cosmetics and now I regularly spend around £150 a month on new products and never leave the house – not even to put the bins out – without my face on.
Although I’m single at the moment, I wouldn’t let a boyfriend see me look anything but flawless.
In the past, I’ve always made sure I got up before them to get my face ready, and I’m sure a part of me thinks they couldn’t possibly fancy me without it.
But with two daughters, Abi, nine, and five-year-old Sophia – who’ve already got their own kiddie make-up sets – I’ve begun to question just how healthy my make-up obsession is.
It’s so important to teach children that self-esteem needs to come from within, but can my girls learn that if I don’t believe it myself? Make-up is my armour. I don’t know if I could ever feel confident without it, but it’s time to find out…
After a very busy weekend, I get up feeling exhausted and scared to look in the mirror. All I see is a washed-out woman with a breakout of adult acne. Urgh. I feel so low, realising there’s nothing I can do today to make myself look better.
Usually I only have to look at my bare face for a few minutes before I apply my make-up. But today I cleanse, tone and moisturise, then realise there’s another 40 minutes before I have to drop the girls at school.
That’s when it hits me how much time I spend each morning doing my make-up while they eat their breakfast, and it’s nice to sit down with them and chat. The girls immediately notice I don’t have my face on and tell me I look beautiful anyway, which is sweet.
Abi is thrilled that for once we’re actually early at the school gates, as normally, no matter how late we are running I always do my make-up, which is probably selfish.
Some of the other mums do a double-take, then my friend Gemma appears and loudly tells me I look ill, which makes me feel self-conscious.
I’m off work today from my admin job, so I pop to the supermarket, which I race round in record time because I just want to get home and hide.
I’m off work again today and have arranged to meet my friend Christina and my mum to go shopping. The thought of all the mirrors and glam shop assistants is making me feel sick.
Mum insists I try on a leopard-print dress, but I can’t make a decision about whether I look good in it or not as I just keep looking at my pale face in the mirror.
In the end she insists on buying it for me, assuring me I’ll love it when I get my make-up back. I come home feeling cross. Make-up has way too much influence over how I feel about myself.
Last night I actually dreamt about putting my make-up on. I wake up laughing, but also thinking this must be like being a smoker who’s quit cigarettes!
I’m missing the satisfaction I get from seeing my look take shape. I’ve also noticed that being natural is influencing how I dress. I’m choosing dark colours and conservative outfits, because I don’t want people to notice me.
I’m back to work today and my heart races as I walk into the office. I’m sure colleagues will ask if I’m ill, but no one says a word.
Are they being polite or are they just too busy to care? Or maybe, just maybe, I look OK?
During my lunch break I go for a power walk around a local park. Normally I’m that woman exercising in full make-up, but it feels good breaking into a sweat knowing I’m not wasting expensive foundation.
This is one part of my life where I could definitely do without make-up. I’ve suffered adult acne over the last few years, and seeing it every day has made me realise it’s a problem that isn’t just going to disappear.
I decide that from now on, it’s no good caking on concealer and pretending it’s not happening – I need to make an appointment with a dermatologist.
I’m meeting my friend Rachel for dinner and normally I’d give myself a smoky eye, apply fake lashes and a bold lipstick. Today all I can do is put on some dangly earrings to feel a bit more glam.
Rachel looks beautifully made-up and I feel so scruffy by comparison.
She tells me I’m really brave and admits she couldn’t do what I’m doing.
A few glasses of wine takes the edge off my paranoia, but the truth is while I’m getting used to going natural in certain situations, a night out definitely deserves a bit of slap.
I consider cancelling a catch-up with my old friend Tim tonight. We’ve never been anything more than friends, but he’s never seen me bare-faced and I’m wracked with nerves.
Men don’t get the emotional tie women have to make-up and how it can really help with self-esteem.
His first words when he opens the door are: “You’ve forgotten to put your face on!” He’s joking though and follows it up by telling me I look great.
We’ve always had a very honest friendship, so if I looked dreadful he wouldn’t hold back!
Make-up has way too much influence over how I feel about myself
I’ve made it! In all honesty, going au naturel didn’t fill me with confidence, but now when I look in the mirror I can see positives as well as negatives, such as my lovely brown eyes and decent cheekbones.
I’ve realised I don’t need my make-up on all the time, especially when I’m at home or exercising. It’s certainly not a reason to make my girls late for school.
More importantly, I’ve got a more relaxed approach to when I wear it, which will hopefully set a good example for my girls.
I don’t mind if they experiment as I want them to understand make-up can be fun, as long as they also know they’re beautiful just as they are. I need to remember that, too.
- Hair & make-up: Eloise Parker
- Follow Emily on Instagram @TheLondonLifestyleBlogger
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