“Give it to me straight, doc.” I growled, sitting up on the cold, hard gurney. “How long have I got?”
The doctor took a deep breath and stepped back. “Three weeks.” She sighed. “You have three weeks.”
I turned away so she wouldn’t see my tears.
OK, OK, it wasn’t exactly like that. I’m not leaving this world any time soon. (Touch wood etc). But I have been banned from makeup for three weeks, due to a very bad eye infection. It only got worse because I insisted on ringing my peepers with eyeliner, no matter how much it stung.
Three weeks without cosmetics and I might be able to wear some for the postgrad ball on March 22.
Nearly two weeks in, have I become a social recluse? Have I been shunned? Did the townspeople put a bell around my neck? Can I live without cosmetics?
My relationship with makeup is probably quite atypical. I was a tomboy when I was younger, and my mother rarely wore makeup, and I have no sisters- meaning I was afraid of the stuff. I had no idea how to apply it, or the difference between liquid or powder foundation, or anything, really. I was lucky as a younger teen that my skin was pretty clear, so I didn’t experience the terrified layering of Ms Sporty panstick over spots that was the curse of my peers.
Of course, I messed around with lip glosses and nail varnish-who doesn’t?- but that was pretty much it. Late bloomer as I was, I discovered boys and makeup at the same time- Transition Year.
An erstwhile rock chick, I layered reams and reams of Rimmel kohl pencil around my eyes until I looked like a panda in Taylor Momsen fancy-dress. That, of course, was the point. I felt that this statement of my severe badassery stood by itself, and I coupled it with Vaseline on my lips and (good old) Ms Sporty mascara.
A little later on, I wore foundation and all the proper things, badly applied. In the first year of college, I gave up again. I wore O’Neill’s tracksuit bottoms and boy’s hoodies, thinking that such loose clothes looked adorable on my small frame. (They didn’t). Makeup was badly applied, again, for a night out. (I wore hoodies out. The shame.)
I spent six months working fulltime at home in second year of college (long story, blame UL). As well as the world of work, I also threw myself into the world of makeup. I threw it on with a trowel in fact. All my disposable, rent-free income and went into the tills of pharmacies, Brown Thomas and into the pockets of Avon ladies. I then studied abroad in a country so hot that foundation becomes a gloopy mess at the base of your chin by 10 am. I stuck to tinted moisturiser until I returned to Ireland.
So my love affair with makeup has been a turbulent one, more on-off than Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Maybe someone from Geordie Shore would be a better guinea pig for this social experiment? But… this awful news has come at a time when I’m enjoying my best relationship with makeup yet. I’ve worn it almost everyday for the last year, and better than that, I like to think I’ve worn it well.
Last December, I got a Christmas job in an upmarket department store which requires its girls to be well-groomed at all times. My inner 12-year old was giddily shocked that this iconic brand hired me, of all people. Anything makeup-wise that I was unsure about, I soon learned there. And, boy, was it fun!
This is why not wearing it for the last two weeks has been a wrench. For the first few days, I wore jeans and T-shirts because I felt there was no point in wearing skirts or dresses when I was automatically underdressed without slap. I felt a bit plain and lost in college, a bit like I was disappearing into the wall. I suddenly noticed too just how many girls in college wore makeup. It seemed to be nearly all of them.
I really missed my morning routine of applying my warpaint. In fact, I left the house some days with the vague unsettling feeling that I’d forgotten something.
Whatever about daytime, going out would be the real challenge. With mountains of college work and my antibiotics, I avoided it until last Wednesday. Getting ready in half the time of my friends, I cheated slightly- I wore some tinted mosturiser and a splash of pink lip gloss. But I still felt majorly underdone… until the vodka kicked in, and the nightclub lights dimmed, and it didn’t matter anymore.
So could I live without makeup? I could, but I certainly wouldn’t want to. Hopefully in ten days time, everything will have resolved itself, and I will wear a smoky eye to the ball, just like Cinderella.
This article appeared on Studenty.me on March 10 2012.