The faucet is running. My compact, powder and mascara are in my bag and that girl who just came in the bathroom door didn’t see a thing.
About two years ago, I began to feel the need to be more of a ninja in these types of situations while on campus at UC Santa Cruz.
I began to pay more attention to my surroundings after an uncomfortable encounter in the Social Sciences 2 building.
A sweet-looking, button-nosed girl came up to me as I adjusted my makeup in the bathroom mirror and said, in a condescending voice, “You’re beautiful without makeup, you know?”
My first thought was, “Have you been following me? How do you know what I look like without makeup?”
I tilted my head and thought, “Wait, do you think I’m not being a good feminist? What does that even mean?”
Her words stung, and I didn’t really know what to say. I just shrugged my shoulders and probably made a funny face.
I hate to sound shallow, but I’ve always really liked makeup, especially during my adolescent years when I wasn’t allowed to wear it. It was a rush with blush.
There were so many bright blues and greens, all probably with harmful ingredients that have aged me prematurely.
I remember sneaking around with my friends and exchanging makeup that was, in my mother’s words, not for “niñas” (girls) in middle school.
At 12, I was hiding from my mother. Now at 21, I’m hiding from hyper-critical students. The digits have switched, yet here I am. I just hate that I feel so self-conscious about people seeing my makeup ritual.
I even feel self-conscious about looking at myself.
Next time you — men, women, and everything in between and outside — go into a public restroom, look immediately in the direction of the mirrors. Someone just flinched and played off adjusting their hair. I do it all the time.
I wouldn’t say I have a fixation when it comes to makeup. I just really like wearing it, and have an unfortunate glandular problem. That’s right. I’m a sweaty girl. By 2:30 p.m., half my face is an inch lower than the other side.
Like Photoshop, I get to work with my brush. I “restore” my image. It’s my little ritual.
By doing this, I risk confronting another Button-Nose.
I’d like to know: What’s the difference between society telling women what to do and a type of feminism that tells us what to do? It’s hard to please both my Beyoncé-look-loving side and Button-Nose.
At least I’m not the only ninja with this problem. My housemate was energetically telling me about having to face this fear after running short on time in the morning.
“Yeah, I put my makeup on,” she said with pride. “IN PUBLIC!”
Rebecca Walker, daughter of famous novelist Alice Walker, dealt with a similar fear of judgment. In her book “To Be Real,” Rebecca Walker spoke about her experiences with her mother.
“Young women feminists find themselves watching their speech and tone in their works so as not to upset their elder feminist mothers,” she said in the book. “Younger feminists definitely have a hard time proving themselves worthy as feminist scholars and activists.”
Though Rebecca Walker has been criticized for being self-righteous, she does make a point in saying that some have developed an overly standardized view of what feminism should be for everyone — not what feminism and empowerment means to individuals.
Feminist literature throughout the decades has pointed to the diversity among women’s wants and needs. More than half of the anthropology students in that Social Sciences 2 building could lecture Button-Nose on a thing or two about cultural relativity.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a reciprocal relationship. Outside the walls of UCSC, people are unfairly partial to “mainstream” looks, dolled-up faces and the latest season’s colors.
To be honest, I’m often one of those people who say, “You’re beautiful without makeup.” But why can’t it be both? Who am I to say what people should do?
Though I am an exceptionally good ninja, I’ll try not to flinch next time someone walks in on me staring at myself. Let’s be comfortable with ourselves, and let’s be comfortable with others’ choices.