To My Son: Makeup Isn’t What Makes Me Pretty


I know you’ve been curious. You watch me apply each product, each layer, and ask question after question about the functions and names. It’s usually while we’re parked in the car because, as you’ve probably noticed, this is the only place mom puts on makeup. In the parking lot at bible study or in the driveway at home. You and your sisters are strapped into car seats giving me two free hands to freshen up, and allowing you to watch wide-eyed and inquire about my process.

Question after question after question.

In your adorable little boy voice. In between observations and questions about completely, non-makeup related topics. You chime in time and time again with curiosity brimming.

“Is that a funny sponge? That looks like a triangle!”

“What are you doing now? Mom! MOM! What are you doing now?”

“What’s that stuff in that thing? What does it do?”

“Is that your powder? Do you powder your face?”

“Is that a blush brush? Is blush for your cheeks?”

“What are you doing now? Mom! MOM! What are you DOING?”

You’ve learned much of what I do and what I use by now. Even though I don’t wear makeup every day, I wear it often enough for you to know. Now, it’s become more of a narration than a question and answer session.

Foundation? Yup. Powder? Uh-huh. Blush? That’s right.

You follow right along with your big blue eyes, noticing, watching, documenting my routine.

Today, your questions and comments changed. You said something out of left field that showed me you see more than even I. You notice and perceive and ponder and surmise.

“Mom. You’re wearing makeup today because you’re not too pretty. Right? Because you need to be more pretty.”

Oh my heart. Oh, my son. How do I explain this to you?

How do I tell you that I started wearing makeup in Jr. High because all the cool girls were. It was a horrendous mess, and my technique and taste-level were questionable, but I NEEDED to wear makeup. I needed it to fit in, to feel like every other girl. It was like getting the right backpack or collecting Pogs (omg, guys. POGS!!). I wore makeup to be just like everyone else, and maybe I still kinda do.

How do I tell you that I wore makeup in high school to attract boys? To “compete” with other girls. To not be seen as ugly. Because none of the makeup-less girls had boyfriends, so clearly, they were ugly. I wore makeup to not be seen as awkward or strange or completely unaware of my appearance. Because that was what was assumed of the girls who didn’t wear it. That they were plain or weird or just didn’t know how to take care of themselves, and maybe that’s still kind of assumed about makeup-less women at my age.

How do I tell you that I wore makeup to work because that is just what you do? You wear makeup to a professional job. Duh. You have to represent your place of business, so of course, OF COURSE, you wear makeup. Anything less would be unprofessional.

How do I tell you that after you were born, I stopped wearing makeup as much? At first, I was sad. Really sad. I felt plain and awkward and ugly. I read articles and books with sweet suggestions to get out of that stay-at-home mom funk by putting on a little makeup. Make yourself feel pretty. Look your best.

So sometimes I did. Though I had nowhere in particular to go, no one specific to impress, I put on a little makeup at home alone with you. They were right, I felt prettier. Because of the makeup. Then I began to feel sad that I sort of needed it. And the days that I just didn’t feel like putting it on sort of felt like a defeat, like I was one of those plain, awkward, ugly stay-at-home moms who was letting herself go.

That was years ago.

Now, my boy, I wear makeup whenever I feel like it. 

Usually to church on Sunday, though not always. Usually to bible study on Wednesdays, though not always. Always on date nights with daddy (because DATE NIGHT! WOOT!). Most of the time when going out with friends. Only occasionally at home with you and your sisters, just because.

I can see why you would think I only wear makeup when I’m not pretty enough, when I’m sprucing up for other people, to be seen out in public, but let me clarify.

I wear makeup not because I’m not pretty without it. I wear makeup because I feel like it. Because it’s a fun accessory, like a cute purse or stylish shoes.

I don’t always feel like going to the trouble of putting it on. Not because I don’t care about myself, but because I don’t care what other people think. It’s not my job to look good for the general public. I have bags under my eyes, America. It’s just a fact. If you can’t look past the bags under my eyes to see my sparkling, snarky personality, then I’ll crack another joke and you will.

Oh, my boy, makeup doesn’t make me pretty. God does. He chose each and every part of me, even what some might call flaws. He is a magnificent, beautiful Creator, and my very existence is beautiful because of Him. I don’t need to do anything to be beautiful. I just am because my God made me.

Son, I don’t put on makeup because I’m ashamed of His creation though I have to admit that used to be my reason. I didn’t like His choices for my skin tone or my face shape. I covered up and disguised the face He gave me, He chose for me, the skin He so lovingly assigned to me.

But, now, my child. I wear makeup for fun. God gave us fun things to have fun. Your mom puts on her jeans, her leopard print TOMS, her favorite “But, First, Coffee!” shirt, and applies her make up. Because it’s all fun.

Makeup isn’t what makes me pretty. It’s my smile, my character, my laugh, my love of God and people. My hope is that you’ll never have to read this because you’ll already know. You’ll look at pictures and think your mama was radiant. She shone with the light of her Lord and her sparkling, snarky personality.

Oh yeah, and on an unrelated note, she sometimes wore makeup.

"Mom. You're wearing makeup today because you're not too pretty. Right? Because you need to be more pretty." No, son. Makeup isn't what makes me pretty.

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