by Aditi Hukerikar //
When I was in middle school, I thought that I was ugly. Not an uncommon experience for young girls to have (which is an issue in its own right) but one that defined how I felt about myself as I grew up. There definitely wasn’t one cause for it, but rather a blend of experiences I had gone through: wearing glasses from a young age (when are we going to get rid of that movie trope where the woman instantly becomes “attractive” when she takes her glasses off?), body insecurity, and most of all, the sheer amount of snide comments people would make about my (very thick) hair.
I write this because it is a precursor to this story that can’t be ignored. Before I got into makeup, I was insecure. I would be lying if I told you that that had nothing to do with my initial interest in makeup, but I hope you don’t discount the rest of my story because of it.
One summer, out of boredom, I wound up on the beauty guru side of YouTube. As soon as I watched a few videos, I was hooked. It was fascinating to watch these YouTubers create such a vast variety of makeup looks, utilizing their different colors, brushes, and products. I didn’t even own any makeup myself, but I yearned to try what I learned on myself.
When I did finally get my own makeup at the end of the summer, my excitement lay in figuring out my own different makeup looks to try. I hadn’t completely forgotten my insecurity, but it did take a backseat to the prospect of experimenting that I was anticipating.
Rather than becoming a means for me to change my appearance, makeup became something I could learn and work on. And working on my craft made me care less about what I looked like, because all I did care about was that I had finally figured out a new blending technique or made an unlikely color combination of eyeshadows work.
Since I went to a uniform school at the time, wearing makeup didn’t become a daily habit for me. Instead, it helped makeup fit into my life as a way to express myself in ways that I didn’t get to regularly.
I write this because I know how divisive the conversation about makeup can be at times. And I understand that teaching young people that they need makeup to look beautiful is harmful. But I wanted to share a story about how makeup did truly become a form of self-expression for me when my self-esteem was low. Makeup culture won’t change overnight, but I hope that more new makeup users can grow up loving makeup for its ability to be a creative outlet rather than an extension of insecurity.