I’m a make-up scavenger. My “collection,” if you can call it that, includes several tubes of chapstick wrapped with promo copy of local banks and fundraisers, a few Clinique relics that came with my mother’s kits ten years ago, the vestiges of several Halloween costumes, and a few hand-me-downs from better equipped friends. I don’t think I own a single item that I picked up in a store, decided I wanted, and purchased. Not even nail polish.
I feel like I missed out on some essential pieces of girl-knowledge, the ability to choose a palette of shadows, to know what an eye primer is, to discern quality from junk. Then I get irritated with myself for attributing too much weight to what is, essentially, a super heteronormative view point in which women are supposed to pay big bucks to make themselves look pretty for the benefit of men. That’s not a tradition I really want to be a part of, nor an industry to which I really want to give my dollars. Except when I do.
This weekend I spent more money on make-up in one fell swoop than I have in the last five years combined. By American beauty-spending standards, I’m still in the “mere pennies” category, but it felt like a lot in the moment. I was with a friend, in a Georgetown Sephora, and I was suddenly possessed by the desire to have more at my disposal than cast-offs.
It felt like a change, like a step closer to grown-up land. I’m not just a scavenger of make-up. I approach most commodities that way, furniture, food, clothing, books. Probably half of what I own was owned by someone else first. Sometimes I go to work without packing lunch, assuming I’ll find a leftover bagel from a breakfast event, or the remains of a fruit salad. Part of it is certainly frugality, but part of it is also this inability to recognize that I’m at a stage in my life where I can by new things, where the $6 saved by the stale bagel isn’t going to break the bank. I haven’t full transitioned.
So my make-up purchase this weekend felt like a step towards the adult mentality of investment (in self, in professionalism, in quality), instead of my typical scanvenger mindset. In that sense, I’m pretty pleased. But it also felt a bit like a resigned sigh, like an acknowledgment that part and parcel of being a professional, adult woman is some sort of proficiency with face-paint.
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