Inside Out

Realizing the effects of makeup on self-esteem

| Winter 2018

  • He seemed to like me better after I started doing things to alter my appearance. I liked me better, too. I felt more secure and less vulnerable. But a month later, I found out he’d been cheating on me with several girls. This left me feeling like I was never enough for him in the first place.
    Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Olena Kaidash

First I apply primer, to keep the makeup from getting too oily. I start at my hairline and work my way down to my chin. The hair on my brows is scarce and light, so I shade my eyebrows in with brown pencil to make them full and dark. After that, I put concealer on my acne scars and any other spots or imperfections. I blend it in, and let it dry. Then I smooth foundation over my whole face.

After this base is complete, I paint on my eyeliner. I place the felt tip in the corner of my eye and drag it out, lifting it upward to create a wing. Then mascara and finally clear lip gloss. I look in the mirror and feel confident enough to walk out of my house.

From 2nd to 8th grade, kids at school bullied me and called me ugly because I had a keloid on my ear. A keloid is scar tissue that doesn’t know when to stop growing. A heap of flesh the size of a golf ball and the shape of a small brain hung from the top of my ear.

When I was 10 and still had the keloid, my Aunt Tammy visited from the South. She pulled me aside and said, “Sweetie, you are beautiful on the inside, no matter how you look on the outside.” I nodded as tears welled up: I knew what she was trying to tell me.

Later that evening, my mother said angrily, “Don’t you ever allow anyone to call you ugly. Haven’t I taught you any better? You are beautiful on the inside and out.” Her comfort was a small bandage, but my aunt’s words continued to sting.

I went into foster care when I was 11. Even though my mother neglected me, she had always told me I was beautiful, and I missed that. In my first few years of foster care, my foster mother didn’t do my hair or take me shopping for clothes. The majority of my clothes were hand-me-downs from her daughters. My middle school had a strict dress code, and my foster mother ordered only one uniform shirt. I washed it out by hand every night.

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