My Makeunder

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I remember it like it was yesterday: one day at lunch hour in grade seven, some obnoxious kid asked me, "Have you got chicken pox?" on the playground. "Yeah, I'm just getting over it..." I lied on the spot. Honestly, I just had really bad skin, the bane of my existence from age 12 to 14 or so.

I always say as an adult that I would never relive middle school--specifically grades seven and eight--for any amount of money. A billion dollars wouldn't convince me to go back to that veritable two-year hell of hormonal torture.

Every day was a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I think I literally cried, screamed at someone, fell in love and developed a new personality disorder at least once every half-hour over the entire two-year period. Plus my body started totally forsaking me. While my boobs stubbornly refused to sprout (I remember saying in grade six that I needed a bra and both my parents responded with blank stares and "what for?") everything else went completely out of whack. I went from being a scrawny kid to having this ridiculous behind overnight (which of course, I convinced myself was fat, and ate lunch maybe four times in all of Grade 8, the first of many food-related issues I've spent way too much time and energy on). And those wonderful sebaceous glands in my T-zone were sure earning their keep. I'd scrub my face four or five times a day to no avail--I had acne constantly and there was absolutely nothing I could do to make it better. Thus I became resigned to the fact that I had horrible skin and it was something I'd just have to put up with.

I've heard that formerly obese people who lose a ton of weight still look in the mirror and see themselves as "fat". I'm the same way with my skin. Long after my hormones decided to stop ruining my existence and my face stopped resembling a pizza in colour, texture, and grease production, in my mind, my skin is still in abysmal shape.

During high school I developed a habit of wearing foundation every day and that habit has never gone away. Every day, one of the first things I've done for the past decade-plus is spackle on a coat of makeup to cover up the skin on my face. It's a mask, literally and figuratively. Even at my parents' house, even on a "good skin day", I'd run to the bathroom before even emerging for breakfast to smear on foundation. Only then was I comfortable with being seen, even by the people who'd changed my dirty diapers and seen me at my absolute most embarrassing worst.

This past Christmas, that all changed. On Christmas morning I was getting ready for the day and doing that crazy let's-get-three-inches-from-the-mirror-and-examine-every-pore ritual that just screams "festive tidings". And I skin is not that bad. I dabbed a little concealer under my eyes--waking up 10 times during the night because I was excited for Santa doesn't make for the most rested look, after all--and did my regular blush-mascara-powder-lip balm routine. And, surprisingly, I thought I looked OK. I decided to start going foundation-less on weekends to give my skin a break.

Over the course of Christmas break, holiday laziness and general lack of hygiene set in, and much like I didn't wear heels OR real pants for a week and a half, I completely abandoned foundation.

On my first day back to work, I hesitated. Hanging out at home with bare skin in front of my family and husband is one thing. Facing coworkers in the notoriously detail-oriented world of advertising, which is full of pretty and put-together people who always look awesome, is quite another.

In a moment of bravado I decided to go for it. I covered up the bits that needed covering, namely those raccoon eyes, and went to work with just some powder, hoping it did a good enough job of blurring my imperfections to the point where I didn't look like a complete hot mess.

Lo and behold, no one seemed to notice. No one recoiled from my foundationless exterior. And I am proud to report that I haven't worn foundation once in 2010. My skin actually feels better, probably because it has room to breathe, which I know is a myth because skin doesn't actually BREATHE BUT YOU GET WHAT I'M SAYING. It feels more natural, cleaner, smoother. And to be frank, I feel a lot better about myself without my mask.

It's not a huge deal--it's only one product I've cut, and I'm sure my getting-ready routine is still way longer than it needs to be--but for someone who couldn't even eat breakfast in front of my mom and dad without makeup for years and years, it feels like a nice little victory.

Now, if I could only master my awful growing-out haircut and learn how to wear red lipstick without looking like a man in drag, I'd be all set.

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  1. Congrats on your new freedom! I'm one rhinoplasty away from mine...

    why are we so hard on ourselves, us women?

  2. CONGRATS!!! :) I have NO problem telling you I've been fighting with my acne scars since my insane acne fight in high school... I saved up money for the last two years to get treatments this year. I'm hoping by the end of the year I can be makeup free. But I have definitely realized that my worst critic is always myself. My scars simply aren't as bad as I think they are. I still want to do something about them... but more importantly I just want to learn to be comfortable in my own skin :) congrats on your Makeunder!

  3. WOw. What a fabulous recount of something so painful

    I have never had acne that bad, but I had a sprout of it after I started on BC pills.. my goodness my cheeks were HORRID and I was teased for being a teenager at work (gawd)

    now my skin is clear, and I just dab on concealer on spots that need covering and my undereye circles and I'm done...

  4. Jill-I don't know!! I think it's definitely for other women because men are NOT that picky.

    Sarah-I think that's true--what seems like a HUGE deal/super obvious to us is often not even visible to others!

    FB-I'm doing the dabbing-concealer thing now too--it's so much easier :)

  5. That is great Amy! From what I can tell, you definitely don't need to worry about caking on the foundation, you're flawless!

    I am trying to do the less makeup routine myself...I came across this product (No foundation foundation) the other day on Sephora and thought it might be a good transition:

  6. Thanks for sharing your story!

    I know how you feel, because I felt the same way from grade 6 to grade 10. I was always the one taking the photo because I didn't want to be in them.

    My skin is still oily, but not to the point where I break out. I just dust a bit of blotting powder to fight the shine, and I'm good to go.

  7. relive 7th and 8th grade? i almost didnt read the rest of the entry- i was ready to run away and cry.

    but amen, sister.

    btw i really think my productivity at work would increase if i were to bring in the new flask... i'd be less stressed, nicer to customers, the whole 9 yards. might have to alert upper management of this great idea.

    basically, im jealous.

  8. Good for you! It was definitely college before I would even consider leaving the house without on the weekends I'm lucky if I shower haha.