How I learned that vanity isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Art by Jea Gaviña

My first makeup set was a pink plastic case with layers for eyeshadow, lips, and blush. With pastel blues and bright pinks, it was equal to the whole shebang. Urban Decay who? The only catch was that it was made in China, and probably unsafe to put anywhere near my face.  

I never actually used it, in case you were wondering. Six-year-old me just liked the idea of having a cute case with little pans of color that I could stare at for hours. That was the first and last set of makeup I’ve ever owned.

My tween phase was this awkward period of figuring out how I wanted to present myself (barfs). Blame it on friends obsessed with Avril Lavigne’s sk8er boi era and all the “you’re too young for that” and “don’t be maarte” statements from family, but I ended up distancing myself from the “girly girl” image I’d cultivated earlier on. My favorite color changed from pink to blue, and I preferred jeans over skirts, sneakers over high heels — you know the deal.   

 

For my uptight Catholic school girl self, vanity was a weakness.

 

In high school, it was less about subverting the girly girl image and more about going au naturale, to show how I didn’t care about the way I looked (even though I did and I was super insecure about it). For my uptight Catholic school girl self, vanity was a weakness. Brushing my hair in public was a weakness, and so was looking at myself in the mirror.   

Fast forward to the second semester of my senior year of college: a picture of stress-induced clogged pores and acne, my only solace coming from my regular K-Drama fix. Watching all the leading ladies and leading men walk around with such flawless, dewy skin did a number for my self-esteem.

Wanting to know their secrets, I ended up going down the skincare black hole by way of r/AsianBeauty and YouTube vloggers (curse you, Recommended Videos tab!) and discovered that skincare, and by extension, makeup, aren’t just designed for the purpose of making you look good for other people. They’re also a form of self care since it can be empowering to go out and look good. Plus, my skincare routine gives me a sense of stability these days.

 

Skincare, and by extension, makeup, aren’t just designed for the purpose of making you look good for other people. They’re also a form of self care since it can be empowering to go out and look good.

 

From there I went from makeup noob to someone who knows what highlighter is for, and how good eye makeup can change up your entire look. Caring about how you look isn’t something you should be ashamed of. Right now I’m at the point where I watch more videos than putting into practice, but I’d like to think that there’ll be a time I get to master eyeliner.

I don’t think I’ll ever be the type to hoard (ya girl is still lazy, after all), but I’m already starting to build a collection of the basics, one lippie and foundation at a time. Last week, I even picked up my first ever eyebrow pencil. Still far from having a complete kit, but getting there. So if you have any suggestions for a beginner, hit me up.

Tags:
#beauty #self

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