I recently realised that I’ve probably been on about forty first dates in my twenty-four years on this planet (Sandler and Barrymore – I’m coming for your record). A big part of it is that I love meeting new people and just think going on dates is fun. A bad date is a good story, I always think. After a few years of going on a date every few months, I seem to have shed the initial nerves and awkwardness – I’d like to think I can chat to anyone, if I’ve had enough sleep and food prior to our meeting. The whole ‘Oh god, but what if we have nothing to talk about?!’ thing is essentially made redundant because I can make a conversation out of pretty much anything: napkins; jellyfish; the quantity of different-sized fruit needed to constitute as one of your five-a-day… Riveting, I know. The list goes on.
Unless the place we’re meeting is somewhere really swanky, I don’t dress up too fancy because I’m not a fancy woman – who knew? I’m most comfortable wearing high-waisted jeans, a t-shirt and Vans, so my logic is this: Why would I dress differently to how I normally would? This guy is meeting me, so he might as well meet me. I don’t mean I’ll go without washing my hair or my body. I’m not going to turn up with a big toothpaste stain down my top or sleepy-eye-gunk clogging up my tear ducts… but I’m not going to pull out all the stops either, because that’s not who I am.
My latest addition (or rather, subtraction) to this is make-up.
I don’t wear it regularly anymore – probably less than once a fortnight – and my reasoning is threefold:
I’m really lazy and it just seems like a lot of faff most of the time, especially taking it off at the end of the day.
I always wipe my eyes without realising and I’m not the tidiest of eaters and at the end of a long, tiresome day of wearing make-up, I often end up looking like a clown who’s been dragged through Superdrug backwards. (How much do you want to date me right now?!?!)
Finally, – and this is the main reason – I’ve recently wondered why I would feel the need to add stuff to my face to either feel better about my appearance or to make myself feel more attractive to others.
I know I’m lucky to have quite good skin, but it’s not just about the skin. I used to apply liquid eyeliner and mascara pretty much every day, eyebrow pencil every now and then, too. My eyes aren’t big and my lashes aren’t long, and this is something I used to feel self-conscious of. Other girls had these big bright eyes and I felt like mine were tiny in comparison, with a big old konk plonked in the middle. There are things I would like to be different about my appearance, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not fussed enough to alter them. Instead, I’ve started to come to terms with – and try to take pride in – them instead.
When I hear my friends talking about how they ‘look disgusting’ when we’re walking out and about and they haven’t got make-up on, I think they’re deluded. I can see they’re gorgeous without it and I tell them so, but they don’t see it themselves. It all feels so hypocritical because we tell each other – genuinely! – that the other doesn’t need it, but then don’t believe it ourselves when it’s said about us.
Even if I don’t put any slap on in my day-to-day life, I always have when going on dates. If it’s gone a bit shit, I get home and think ‘Ugh, I can’t believe I put on makeup for that’ as I scrub at my eyes and regale stories from the night to my flatmate. In those instances, I feel deflated – I’m annoyed at myself for trying to improve my appearance for someone else, no matter how successful the night was or wasn’t.
That all leads me on to this: A few months ago, for the first time in my life, I decided not to wear any make up on a first date.
I’d only spoken to the guy on Bumble so we hadn’t seen each other IN THE FLESH until this night, when we would be going for a drink and then dinner. I had a shower, danced in my pants to Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’ (an absolute banger, by any sane person’s standards) and tried on fifty different outfits before going back to the first option. Halfway through my bus ride into town, I started getting stupidly nervous and began silently reprimanding myself for not bringing any mascara in case I ended up changing my mind about the whole thing. However, this all faded to the back of my brain as soon as I got there. It wasn’t until we were waiting for dessert, as I went to the toilets and saw my bare-faced reflection staring gormlessly back at me, that I remembered I wasn’t wearing any make-up. Somehow, when we’d met outside the bar, he hadn’t run away screaming “HELP OH MY GOD HELP SOMEONE GET HER AWAY FROM ME SHE’S NOT WEARING ANY EYELINEEERRRRRrrrrrr…….” (The trailing off was to signify his shrieks becoming inaudible as he ran away, in case you hadn’t realised.)
This guy didn’t turn out to be the love of my frizzy life, but we had a great night. Anyway, this story isn’t about him. It’s about my face… And all women’s faces. AND HUMANITY’S FACE!
Wearing make-up should be a choice we make for ourselves.
I wrote a piece a couple of years ago about body hair, and I’m trying to attach the same message to this: if you’re going to do it, make sure you’re doing it for yourself. Whenever I go to shave my pits or my legs or wherever, I stop and think ‘Am I doing this for myself, or am I doing it because I think someone else will prefer it or judge me otherwise?’ I only shave my legs these days when I want to feel like a slippery dolphin as I get into deliciously fresh bedsheets. I don’t care if a man sees my pins with hair on – likelihood is, his are going to be a lot fuzzier than mine anyway. And it’s the same with make-up. Don’t get me wrong – I bloody love the stuff. There’s nothing I enjoy more than getting all dolled-up with my best galz before a night out, or rocking up on the first day of Shambala, plonking my tent down in a crumpled heap, and spending forty-five minutes transforming my face into a shimmering, four-dimensional kaleidoscope. I just don’t like how it’s seen as such a big deal "when a guy you like sees you without make-up for the first time". I only put it on these days when I want to feel a bit sassier for myself – and it’s quite liberating, I have to say.
If someone’s ever going to fall in love with me again, it’ll probably be when I’m in my favourite baggy jumper and ripped skinny jeans, not my best glad rags and a full face of slap. Otherwise, I don’t really think it’s me they’ll be falling for.