I ask this because, well... I have. As many of you know, I have a rather colorful educational background (a bachelor's in nuclear engineering from MIT, a Ph.D. from UCLA School of Medicine in biomedical physics and radiation biology) and a number of years under my belt as a scientist working to cure cancer. These days, I've left my petri plates behind and sat down behind a computer screen to tackle science from a writing and communications standpoint, but I'm still a scientist. Essentially, it would seem that my mind is very nimble and quick.
So... "Why the hell are you wasting your time and money with all that silly makeup?" says my husband the other day. "You're supposed to be smarter than that."
This was like several slaps in the face at once. First of all, who really likes a sudden sharp criticism from one's spouse? Especially one that, if analyzed a little bit, is a veiled type of character assassination?
And really... where does he get off saying "smarter than that" as if only stupid morons are supposed to use and enjoy makeup? dWhere does this stereotype come from? Am I supposed to eschew my enjoyment of the stuff just because I have an advanced degree? And what, pray tell, am I supposed to do instead?
Oh, wait. I do know. It means I am supposed to do things that the intelligentsia are supposed to do as defined in books, movies, and coffee joint discussions. Play chess. Read War and Peace and Science magazine simultaneously and cover to cover. Play the violin. Come up with a way to beat the stock market. Count cards in Vegas. In other words, do something that is considered nerdy and smart. Something the husband considers useful (which means, something that might make money).
This isn't the first time people have tried to insult my interest in makeup, though. My own parents find my interest in it petty and useless, and have told me so several times - even going so far as to tell me that I look better without it and that my time would be better spend doing "other things."
Okay... so yes, I do love to read, and if I knew how to count cards, then baby, I'd be that thing that stayed in Vegas in my private suite. But the thing is, I spend all day doing science and "being smart" - my left brain gets a massive workout. And you know what? It gets tired, like anything else, and that's when I can hear them. The muffled cries of my right brain, screaming for action, wanting its turn, wanting that release. Smart or not, I want balance. As much as I crave scientific knowledge, I crave a way to express my artistic, creative self.
Sure, I could paint on a canvas. But there is something much more sensual about using my face and my body as the canvas for my artistic expressions. When I paint my face, I can feel the texture of the makeup, the brushes, my own hands. In a world that has become rather "touchless," I believe this is important aspect of private time. Everyone's body craves touch - we suppress the desire most often in today's world, but indeed that makes it more lovely when we do experience it, even from our own fingers and palms. Touch releases endorphins, oxytocin, and other pleasureable hormones and neurotransmitters (see, I'm a nerd for certain), and that reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, slows the heart rate, spreads that wonderful tingly warmth through the body. Who wouldn't want that? Why should that be reserved for only those without a bunch of letters after their name?
And... upon further analysis, makeup can often be more important to smart women simply because they are smart. In my case, my nerdiness existed back in high school, when everyone was halfway between a child and an adult, and a female nerd was something to avoid at all costs. I was made fun of and excluded from things, simply because my report card contained A's. The assumption was that I was no fun, that I was uptight, and that I was a prude. In fact, this shroud of nerdiness made me ugly to those people...and I am not sure I can explain the hurt and isolation that generates. No one from your school will date you, no one will invite you to parties. When you are made to feel ugly, you seek to make yourself beautiful, and makeup can do that. Learning to do my eyes perfectly, to get lovely skin, to smell so good - all of that allowed me to feel so much better about myself and to at least be able to date a few boys I met at my summer job, who went to other schools and didn't hold the same assumptions about me. Of course... college changed all of this... but I digress here :)
So, my question is, why is doing makeup stupid, when it can have such a positive impact on a woman's (or even a man's) life? The fact is, it is NOT stupid... and we all have the right to do our faces proudly. Don't ever let someone's snarky comments make you feel bad about your hobby... because after all, it is a hobby like anything else, and it makes you feel good. You deserve to feel good, and no matter how you choose to get it, you OWN that endorphin rush.
Happy making up!!!