The other night I went out with my best friend for dinner and shopping. Being the make-up lovers that we are, we went to Ulta, where I immediately started swatching some of the perfect-for-fall lip products. After washing the berry stains from the back of my hand we continued to walk through the store and as we passed the fragrances I stopped. There it was, in a star-shaped bottle; the first of the fragrances that we approached was Angel by Thierry Mugler.
This immediately caught my attention because I had been mulling over questions given to me as part of the #bewareofangels campaign to promote the Angel fragrance. Their questions asked me to engage the senses and explore what makes me feel feminine. Without a doubt, make-up makes me feel feminine, but I don’t say that as someone who believes that flawless make-up, perfect hair and a tailored outfit makes a woman beautiful.
It seemed fitting to contemplate this while spending time with my best friend. When I first started to truly explore the world of makeup it was with her. We’d go to a make-up counter and pick out a few products to have the make-up artists apply. At that time in my life, I thought that make-up would make me beautiful, which was a terrible reason to wake up each morning and slather make-up on my face! But the more that I played with make-up, the more that I fell in love with it for the creativity and the transformation that it brings.
Perhaps that’s a better description of what makes me feel feminine: transformation.
I’d put on a smoky eye when we’d go salsa dancing on Friday nights and feel like Cinderella—literally. One night the manager of the restaurant that hosted the dancing saw me putting on ballroom shoes. He knelt in front of me, took one of my shoes out of my hand and slipped it onto my foot. When he tried to buckle it, my best friend and I looked at each other with a knowing smile. I wondered if he’d figure out how the buckle worked, but after a few minutes I stopped him before he ruined the buckle of my shoes. I wasn’t sure if they could be ruined—but I wasn’t going to take the chance. I showed him how to loop the hook around the buckle and felt like I was living in an “I can do it myself” fairy tale.
I loved that bathing my eyelids in a sea of blues and greens turned my hazel eyes turquoise and that, after tying faux-dreads into my hair, I was ready to attend a mermaid pool party. I loved that at those parties we found a community of women (and men) who welcomed each other. It didn’t matter what shape or size you were; if you had mermaid hair or a mermaid tail or a mermaid heart, you were one of them.
And as much as I love the transformation, I love that it’s temporary. I can feel like a mythological creature as mermaid fins splash the water in front of me, but when the clock strikes midnight I can wipe the blues and greens from my eyes and extract the faux-dreads from my hair. I can reveal the woman behind the transformation; complete with fine hair and red cheeks and occasional spots.
I’ve come to love that woman that I see in the mirror; the one who isn’t perfect. As much as I love makeup (and can’t deny it, it’s a well-documented fact on this blog) I find that if anything, makeup detracts from natural beauty. But I love that I can use makeup to change how I look for a brief period of time. I love that I can go to work as me and add some eyeliner and a red lip after for a glamorous night out with friends.
That’s what femininity is—we can work in a school or a hospital by day and swipe on a berry lipstick for a night out with the other women in our lives. We can work to become a fire-woman or we can give someone an extra boost of confidence at a makeup counter or a hair salon. We can work at a small, county library or a large, corporate firm. We can dress up in stilettos and take a town car out for a night on the town or wear sandals and a bathing suit to canoe across a lake as the sun starts to set. We can take dance classes or martial arts. We can roll around in the dirt with our children or our dogs and paint our nails while watching a rom-com and drinking a glass of wine after. We can spend the evening out with friends or curled up with a good book.
We can transform ourselves into who we want—or need—to be.