It was on the train one morning before Christmas that I ran into The Cynic, on his way into a London office on secondment from his normal lawyering location.
How we got onto the subject now escapes me, this being some weeks ago and my having downed several hundred cubic metres of Pa Blonde’s margaritas in the meantime, but not very long into the journey, TC launched himself into a vociferous rant.
“I,” he said fervently, “am waging a one-man war against make-up.”
I looked at him, blinking out from underneath lashings of pigment, eyeliner and mascara, a smattering of foundation and a little lip gloss.
“I know I’m up against some pretty big corporations, and given that I can’t even get my wife to do it, I’m probably facing a losing battle. But it’s all this…” He completed an exceptionally accurate mime of a woman doing early-morning battle with the eyelash curlers.
I must have appeared utterly horrified because his next comment appeared an attempt to soothe somewhat.
“Look, it’s not that we don’t notice that you’re all beautifully made up – it’s that we think you’re beautiful without it.” Gosh, what a well-trained chap.
Warming to a theme, he went on to suggest that women everywhere should collectively boycott all make-up for a day: we might realise, he argued, that no one would recoil in horror at our unmade-up faces, and we’d all save ourselves a fortune in both time and money.
I’m sure, to men, TC’s argument is a crystalline example of inexorable logic. But as good an argument as he makes, I remain unconvinced.
I’m a big make-up fan. The bag I own is definitely nowhere near bulging as, say, Best Mate’s – I don’t own hundreds of different types of everything in a million different colours, myriad brushes to do very precise things, or products that only the lovely types in MAC would be able to identify, let alone apply. But I am a devotee. There are certain products that I fell in love with, back in the mists of time, and haven’t strayed from since. I prefer the way I look when I’m wearing it, and the ritual of putting it on in the morning is something I actually quite enjoy.
I would never go into work without the stuff on – as ridiculous as it might sound, I think that it belies a certain level of professionalism to wear make-up to work. You don’t need to go all Joan Collins on the situation, but a little mascara suggests that you have a) the levels of organisation required to wake up in time to put it on before you get into the office (public application of make up has already been dealt with) and b) you take the thing seriously enough not to turn up looking like a slob.
As I get older and more confident, I’m happier to wear less of it than I used to be. Back in the day, I didn’t like leaving the house in anything less than a full face of slap. The week at University that I contracted conjunctivitis from my grotty Californian flatmate (remember her, long-time readers? Jeez. What a trainwreck) saw me attend precisely no lectures being, as I was, unable to wear eye make-up.
It’s now not unheard of for me to head out at the weekends or on days off, bearing nothing more than a little mascara and some tinted moisturiser. And yes, the time and effort saved is great, and no small children seem to have keeled over, eyes bleeding at the sight of my pale face and indistinguishable features.
But it’ll take a bit more convincing for me to give up the slap entirely, convincing mimes of eyelash curlers by fellow commuters notwithstanding.
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