Thursday, May 26, 2011

I am a Makeup Coward

Do you ever get all dolled up & confidently step out of your home, only to rush back in & wipe off your makeup? Do you do beautiful, elaborate makeup looks when you're playing 'makeup makeup' at home, but tone it all down when you're going out? Do you wear bright, bold lip colours, but wipe if off on the back of your hand the minute you encounter another human being? Do you? No? Just me then. Ok, so I'm a makeup coward.

It's not that my makeup looks bad or that I'm completely clueless about applying it. It's just that I'm super self-conscious. If people even give me a passing look, I feel nervous. I think to myself, "Why are they looking at me? Do I look odd? Is my face/dress looking weird?" And these thoughts were pretty much a daily occurrence until recently. I just didn't want to stand out in any way. 

I have small eyes. Throughout my childhood, people would ask me if I'm from China or Japan. I don't look the least bit like I'm from the Far East. I mean, my eyes were/are only slightly smaller than theirs. The point is that some stupid, ignorant people pointed out over & over again that I look 'different'. And it used to upset me a lot, especially since my nationality was questioned. 

Add to all this, I'm shy & reserved by nature. I don't like attention; it makes me uncomfortable. I've always been a bit of a wallflower, preferring the background to the forefront. But my looks caused people to notice me a little. And so did my somewhat uncommon name and weird surname. As a child all this caused me a lot of insecurity & anxiety. Hell, it causes me some tension even today. 

It didn't help that Chennai was a fairly conservative city (still is). Anything out of the ordinary or anyone who looks different  is subjected to unblinking stares by all those around. It's absolutely nerve-wracking. And it's worse when you use public transport. Anyone and everyone, from snotty-nosed kids to lungi-wearing grandpas to oily-haired aunties, thinks it's their god-given right to stare at you. And it's really unnerving. 

So yes, even thought I LOVE makeup, I have been guilty of toning it down & even wiping it off when I step outdoors. And I was pretty hard on myself for it. But I've figured out ways of dealing with my insecurities. And things changed dramatically in the past couple of months when I was forced to confront my fears of looking weird or standing out. More on that in the next post. 

But tell me, have any of you had similar experiences? Have you felt self-conscious when you've gone out wearing a bold lipstick? How did you deal with it?

~ love, 

All images taken from Getty


  1. Hey..i know what u mean...coz i have been there too...but more than our own insecurities it has perhaps to do with the city we are living in. Its the best to be as low profile to avoid getting all those stares. Delhi might not be as conservative as Chennai but it's still best to not be all dressed up.

    Only after coming to Tokyo..I do hell a lot of makeup n can still walk confidently on the one cares...n no matter how dressed up i am ..i am always under dressed comapared to the rest of the crowd..haha..
    so in my experience its to do with the place rather than our own insecurities. :)


  2. dear Poorvah,

    If you think it is hard in Chennai you have no idea how hard it is from where i come,which is a small village in ernakulam district of Kerala.Add to that the fact that i am 16,Muslim and overweight....its an equation for self loathing caused by all the staring and all....But what i have realized is...I am who i am..and being a M/U lover is a part of me...!!!so what i started of doing was i understood the fact that ppl will talk no matter wat u do...if u wear Makeup..u are OVER...if u dont...u are i thot....wat the hell?! i'll do something i love and get stared at than do nothing and still get stared at...!!! and P.s.I have written a post about how to get comfie in it here:

    I hope u feel confident enough to let everyone know how sweet and genuine you are...and that u will be happy wearing any dress/makeup that u love...!!

  3. Poohkie...even though i am a pacca south indian girl born and broughtup in chennai...still i have the same feelings...even now if i wear bright pink/red lipstick and walk out ppl gimme those stares...
    sometimes...i used to wipe it off immediately...Trying to get used to such stupid things and still continuing with generous makeup :D

  4. Hi poohkie, I totally agree to ur views. I think that is because of the surrounding we live in. I am from a very conservative family too, even now when I step out with a dash of lipstick you will get these stares. Most people think that it is very wrong to use makeup. And here in Chennai it is very worse I think.. Do post how you overcome it, will help fellow people like us too..

  5. I haven't shared the same feeling Poohkie may be because i carry the attitude of "i dont care"
    and if your eyes are small let me tell you i wish for small eyes ..they look so cute to me.

  6. Ooh girl a bit of a makeup coward too..i do all these looks and stuff...but mostly i go out with liner and lip gloss..or maybe some neutral eyeshadow ..But that is it...
    However, iv started to branch out ill wear a red lipstick once in a whike...and if people look im, if a lipstick can catch someones attention, im sure its looking fgood!

  7. I can soooo relate to it poohkie !! In fact even a red at home I have just tried for the 1st tym..even light any makeup done gives stares n I get conscious too..:/

  8. I agree that people keep staring at you irrespective of where you are !!! but once you really start ignoring them I don't think we will feel very self conscious. It was hard initially for me too but came with practice :)

  9. @Tanya - I agree that the place you live in does impact how you dress, but for me it goes beyond that. I've come to realise that insecurities come from inside me & whether I'm in Chennai or New York I will still have them. So I'm trying to work on my self confidence. I can't suddenly move to a more liberal or progressive city, but I can control how I react to people staring at me.
    @Fathima - I know it must be much harder for you & everyone else who lives in a small town. I had read that post you had written for IMBB. Fortunately, my family is pretty understanding & no one has ever interfered or commented on my love for makeup (except my younger brother; but then younger brothers are supposed to be nosy interfering idiots).I'm not yet completely confident, but I'm definitely getting there. Thanks for your encouragement :)

  10. @Varshini - that is the only way yo do it - ignore the stupid people. Other wise we'll be really frustrated.
    @Indgal - I think people who come from conservative families have it harder than me. So kudos to you. But yes, in Chennai people seem to think that pottu & kajal are the only makeup. Anything else is shocking.
    @Anamika - I really admire your attitude. I really want to become like that. And thanks for complimenting small eyes :)

  11. @P&B - lol it actually makes me feel better knowing that there are so many women just like me. I've also started wearing red lipstick. But I still do wipe it off sometimes...but I'm taking baby steps.
    @Bhumika - Feeling self conscious is so awful, isn't it? It makes you doubt everything. Just start out with something small & work your way to bolder colours.
    @Aarthi - I'm working on that. It's tough to ignore people when they're right in front of you, but I'm going to keep trying.

  12. Same with me..I am from Kerala which is more conservative compared to Chennai..I still dont dare to put dark lippies outside..Having thick and wide lips doesn't help at all..even with blush i feel very self conscious.

  13. Hey Poohkie even i have very small eyes andd ppl make fun of it :| I stopped wearing kajal cuz I read sumwher it makes small eyes luk even smaller darn!sigh! yeah even i am a makeup coward.i used to shy from wearing compacts even but now I can wear colored liners :d but still I am apprehensive of wearing bold lippies :( :(( and wat u said abt Chennai is so true..ppl stare stare and stare as if gt no other business to do..hmph :x

  14. hey phookie... this post is something I can 100 % relate to.
    Make-up and all such stuff seems like, we are like opponents :D

  15. well you'll be glad to know i was one step ahead of you... i used to feel concious even before my family. my grandpa is very conservative. So even if i wore jeans with a slightly short top or big chunky ear-rings or makeup he would give a disapproving look. Just that look would make me want creep oit of the house like a cat, without him seeing me!

    And i agree it is to do with the place you are living in too... i love it when i go abroad because no one gives a damm as to what i wear.. i love that freedom, which is unfortnately not there in many cities in India... not yet atleast,..!
    But i think if you have the right attitude and confidence, you can deal with the place :)

    Nice post! Following you :)

  16. @Gemini Lass - that's too bad; I feel your pain. You look lovely in your profile picture.
    @Shweta - You can definitely wear kajal; but don't line your upper lid & your lower lash line. This will close off your eyes & make them look smaller. Line only your lower lash line or water liner & that too only 3/4th of the way. This will not make your eyes look big, but will not make them look smaller. And tell the people who make fun of you to GO TO HELL! I'm glad you like coloured liners, they're a lot of fun. As for bold lippies, I'll write about it in my next post. I hope this helps.

  17. @Jyoti - I'm glad you can relate. But isn't is awful that so many women go through it in India? That says something about our society.
    @TheGirlAtFirstAvenue - It really pisses me off that we need to 'cultivate' thick skin when we're at home(in India), but can be free to wear whatever we want when we're in other countries. That totally sucks!
    Ya I'm working on the confidence part. And fortunately, as conservative as Chennai is, my family isn't. That is, my parents think my style of dressing is too conservative & my grandparents don't comment on my clothing at all.

  18. Thanks Poohkie :) yeah its high tym i asked them:D and definitely luking forward to ur post on bold lippies :) love ya <3

  19. Poohkie, I think what you need to do is put on the fun make-up/bold lipstick/etc. and then just walk out of the door and forget about what you are wearing. Don't constantly think about the fact that you are wearing something 'unusual' for yourself. Walk with your head held high, be confident and remind yourself that you look fabulous. I didn't wear make-up for a long time, so when I first started, my family teased me a lot (good-naturedly, of course). I ignored them and carried on doing what I felt like doing, and now they don't even remember when I *didn't* wear any!


  20. @Shweta - Most of the time when people make nasty comments, it's because their either feel threatened or feel insecure. SO believe me, their comments have nothing to do with you & everything to do with their own insecurities. *HUGS*
    @Leia - I agree. My self consciousness comes from the fact that I'm thinking too much about it. If I let go of that & just be, I'm sure I'll feel much better about it. I'm going to try that now. I'll try to take my mind off the makeup & think about other things.

  21. Yeah mayb I won't feel stupid abt my makeup anymore :D tis is a 1 gr8 post :) and am follwing u :)

  22. I was gonna say the same thing as Leia. I do not wear much make up 'coz I don't like it ... but if you want to then you totally should. Just don't care or think about it!

    P.S. I know you asked me a few questions. I haven't forgotten about them. Would you prefer I do a post about it or write to you privately?

    ♡ from ©

  23. I get stared at even if I am not wearing makeup. I am very fair (I almost appear white at times) with green eyes & light hair. Ppl stare at me all the time, since childhood. I've just gotten so used to it that now I don't even notice it. When I go out, ppl with me notice that others are looking at me, but I am totally oblivious. Hence bold, bright makeup is never an issue with me. I know that ppl will stare even if I go out bareface. Might as well do what I want to do. It's my life, who cares if some random soul down the street stares at me, most probably I am never gonna see/meet these ppl again, so why let their judgement cripple my life. I feel it is very limiting to live like that, fearing what other ppl think & feel. It's your life, as long as your actions don't cause pain or hurt to anyone else, it's ok :D

  24. Goodness, what you wrote was a narration of what I said to a friend of mine the other day..:| I am a makeup coward. I have worn eyeshadow out of my house thrice. :| for weddings and a party:|

    I don't own a red lipstick and forget Vegas volt, I wore Crosswires the other day, wiped it, wore gloss and went for a movie.:|

    I have small eyes too.. but I like my eyes, I have been called all those things too.:| I am over it.. but I don't know how much longer will I do this.:|

  25. @Shweta - thanks :)
    @Tanvi - I'm not there yet. I tend to overthink things, but I'm working on it. The world doesn't revolve around my wearing lipstick, after all.
    @Tanveer - That's a different perspective. I'm slowly getting to your point of view. You're right, it's very limiting & extremely frustrating. Not the way anyone should be living.
    @Ik - Don't worry, you're in good company :D I love my small eyes too. And I have wiped off my lipsticks so many times that I have lost count! It's ridiculous. But I'm trying to tell myself that if I wore it in the first place, then it must look nice & I owe it to myself to stick with it. This works sometimes, but not every time...

  26. haha I will try telling myself this.. and I have to tell myself a lot and convince myself about a lot these days.. :)

  27. o i am a makeup coward too. dont ask.. nobody remembers me wearing lipstick. but i do own a fair no. of lipsticks.

    and yes in school or college i was always the average girl, leaning towards the geeky side. so the ugly duckling phenomenon was a reality for me. the funny thing is i dont feel like a swan yet.