Makeup and my body image

Friday, February 13th 2015 Uncategorised

Today I’m going to be talking about something slightly different than usual. In advance, I want to warn that I’ll be talking about body image, and some of it is fairly negative. I absolutely don’t want to upset anyone with what I’ve written – it’s musings about *myself* and I don’t want my opinions about myself to be put on to anyone else. If you’re interested in how I feel about my body image, and how that relates to my interest in makeup and beauty products, then click read more.

One question I get asked often is “why are you so into makeup, and beauty?”. It’s a difficult question to answer – there are so many possible answers for it. The simple one is that it’s fun, and I like changing my appearance with colours. But truly, there is a deeper meaning to it for me.  I’m not sure if you readers realise, but I’m a plus size woman – heavy, curvy, fat, whatever you want to call it – I wear about a size 18 in clothes. I haven’t always been this size, the weight has come on (and off, at times) since I started university. To be honest, I’ve hated it. I’ve been really unhappy and angry with myself about my weight, and struggled desperately to control it. At this point in my life, I’m working on embracing body positivity and exercising because I like the feeling of lifting weights, and trying to eat nutritious food.

Since I haven’t been able to exercise control over my weight, one thing I can generally control is the rest of my appearance. My interest in makeup, and hair, and nails, and all of that associated things, is partly an attempt to control how I look. I may be fat, but at least my hair and makeup can look fabulous. I realise this sounds troubling, but it’s not a compulsion – there are still plenty of days where I roll out of bed and am lucky if I comb my hair and slap on some moisturiser before running for the bus. Doing my makeup and hair, just helps me to feel better about the way I look, when I’m feeling self conscious about my weight.

Understanding this connection for me, was an interesting breakthrough in my mental relationship towards my weight. I’ve been buying clothes that suit my figure, mainly from City Chic, and also a few things from Forever 21 in Brisbane, and trying to love and embrace the way I look. Blogs like This is Meagan Kerr, and talking with fiercely positive friends like my girl Caitlin (CaitlinKimberley) have been helping with this big time. It’s going to be a lifelong thing for me I think, with the pervasiveness with the media and cultural ideals telling me that my body shape isn’t right, and that I should be desperately changing it. For now, I’m pretty happy using makeup as an armour of sorts.

If people feel comfortable, I’d love to know if anyone else has this sort of attitude? Is makeup an armour, or a mask for you, like it is for me? I know it’s a really personal matter, so feel free to email me – lena at lenatalksbeauty.com. Of course, if you feel open enough, I’d love to discuss this in the comments section. I feel pretty nervous publishing this, but I just have this need to get this out in the open, and I’m not quite sure why – mainly to see if others can relate.

Comments

comments

  • caity

    Lena this is really great! I’m super proud of you for talking openly about this, and also that you’ve stopped fighting your body! I totally do the same thing with makeup – on days I’m having a flare up or PMSing or whatever I’m more likely to put in a lot of effort because it makes me feel better! And when I’m starting to feel like I’m spiralling out of control, I get my nails done and stare into space for 40 minutes and then I feel a million times more put together. Love you girl x (also thanks for the shout out)

    • I find doing my makeup, or especially my nails, weirdly meditative. I just sit quietly and focus on myself for half an hour or an hour, and it’s really nice. Man actually getting my hair blow dried last night and chatting on facey to my friend was sooo good, the guy chatted a little bit to me but mainly let me be.

  • I think it’s important that people talk about their body image more often. Whether it’s something that’s healthy or not, it’s always better to talk about it than to bottle it up. I think you’re incredibly brave for approaching the topic in such an open and honest way.
    I’m plus size and I have no affection for make up whatsoever. When I was at university I used to do my hair and make up quite often (but let’s not kid ourselves, it was like dipping my face in a make up bag, not done properly at all) to make myself feel good but now I don’t bother. I’ll only put make up on or do my hair if I’m going out somewhere nice, otherwise I’m happy. I feel quite negative about my size though, always trying to hide the lumps and bumps. I get frustrated when pants don’t fit right in a size up or down (camel toe is unpleasant but so is a saggy bum) but feel happy in a dress or skirt for some reason.
    Learning to live with what your body becomes and how it develops is incredibly important and while looking after yourself with good food and exercise is crucial, so is self kindness. We forget to give ourselves a break, to cut us some slack. We’re human and that’s how it goes.

    So congratulations on an amazing post and I hope your body positive attitude goes from strength to strength.

    • It was really scary posting this, it sat in my drafts for a couple of weeks but I just really wanted to get it out! I also hate wearing pants or shorts – they’re just never comfortable. I much prefer dresses or skirts, except for the dreaded chub rub. It’s really important to me to be active, with such a sedentary job, which is why I love my dance class, and have grown to…not quite enjoy the gym, but I like it. We are human, and it’s unrealistic to expect all of us to have a similar body shape. I think body positivity is a different journey for everyone but it’s nice to know others in the same boat, it’s easy to feel so alone.

  • Love this! You are so, so brave for posting it. Thank you!
    For me, makeup is just a way to make me feel prettier. I guess I wouldn’t say it was a mask but it definitely makes me feel more “worthy.”
    There were undoubtedly times that I was bare-faced and felt that I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone or it triggered my anxiety but now less so. Slightly.
    Thank you for posting this. So much love for you x

  • This is such an honest and open post. Thank you for sharing it with us. It took a lot of courage to write it.
    It is so hard to love your body in a world where we are bombarded with images of skinny minines everywhere.
    I have particularly found it hard to shake thr weight since having a baby. And my body shape changed and I hold weight in different places. My mum friends are skinny size 6 s but I have hips!
    I started using makeup to fit in. I feel like sometimes girls get competitive with it, especially at my old work. It was all about the brand and having the latest. Now it’s something for me. And gives me a little confidence!

    • We really are bombarded with it! Also, as much as I love my friends it is hard when most of them are skinnier then me – going shopping with them can be torture, going into all of these shops I can’t fit anything in. It is easy to get competitive about that sort of thing, and I’ve definitely heard that about flying, having quite a few air crew in my family. Having a boost of confidence is always good! Thanks for commenting xx

  • You go girl – I think it’s really important to think critically about how we feel about our bodies and what we do about that! I have found makeup, but more so tattoos, really useful in improving how I feel about my body as I get older and stop being the tiny skinny teenager I once was. There’s still a way to go for me with loving my body, but it’s easier to love it with beautiful things on it!

    • That transition from teenager to woman is a difficult one for a lot of us I think. I wonder if guys experience the same, I’d ask my brother but he’d probably just roll his eyes. Your tattoos are beautiful, and so is your makeup! Thinking critically is hard, like it’s easy to be like ‘i just like makeup’, but for me at least, there’s more to it.

  • So proud of you for talking so openly about this Lena! I think a lot of people do their hair and makeup to help themselves look and feel great, and there is nothing wrong with that at all! When I started to start treating myself well and embraced body positivity, I started by doing my hair and makeup. I think that it was a really great boost for me AND I was spending time doing something nice FOR ME. Even now when I need extra confidence, having my hair and makeup on point makes me feel ready to take on the world! xo

    PS Thanks for the shout out!

    • Being nice to yourself is so important! Last weekend when I was feeling sick and terrible (glandular fever woop!) I did my hair and makeup for the shoot with you, and I managed to feel pretty fabulous – before going home to bed for the rest of the day.

      • Pro freaking model for shooting with glandular fever, jeez! I hope you’re feeling better hun, rest up xx

  • Loved this Lena. It’s actually why I named my blog what I did – makeup is so many things, whether you use it to express yourself, or a confidence booster, or hell, even war paint. It’s so much more than mon-beaity obsessed people give it credit for!

    • It really is – it can be such a great boost. I was wondering this week if men are jealous that they can’t wear makeup (well, they can, but it’s not really the socially acceptable/normal thing like it is for women), especially if they have troublesome skin.

  • Such a nice honest and open post Lena! I really appreciate your honesty and I am sure you were nervous to hit “publish” on this one! I honestly think you look great (weight-wise) and otherwise, but I totally understand it’s a personal thing and you probably aren’t where you want to be! I have struggled with my weight my whole life and it’s always something I am conscious of! I definitely have used makeup as a distraction from my weight in the past, but I mainly see it as a confidence boost for me no matter where I am at with my weight it makes me feel in control like you described! I think you are such a beautiful person inside & out!

    Sarah | Bows & Pleats

    • Thank you Sarah <3 <3 I think most, or maybe even all women seem to have a difficult relationship with their weight. Makeup is a really good confidence boost for me, if I'm feeling a bit crappy it's nice to get done up and feel a bit better about myself. You're gorgeous inside and out too – you're always a shining light of positivity! xx

  • Good on you for writing what was probably a difficult piece to write. The journey to body positivity is a long one… I’m trying to get there but its hard work.

    You write so well and should be proud of this piece.

    • It’s such hard work but feels good when you have little wins. I am proud of this piece, thank you xx

  • Melissa

    I’ve lost 70 kgs and for the first time since I remember I’m now in the ‘normal’ weight range. My relationship with beauty products but mainly make up has changed heaps in the process of losing all this weight and now a bold lippy is my fave make up thing to wear. Before when I did my make up I would try more natural looks and it was purely to try and make myself look better or more presentable whereas now when I do it I am intending to look even more awesome and want to draw attention to myself through the make up looks I choose. It’s far more exciting playing with make up now and as the scales have gone down my lippy collection has exploded. I;ve gone from having one to having close to 50 in the past year.

    • Hah, we’ve kind of done the opposite! Growing up, and for a while in adulthood, I was in the normal range and i never bothered with makeup because I felt like I was pretty enough without it. It’s been so interesting following you on twitter and seeing your weight loss happen, and how your interest in makeup has grown too. You definitely do look awesome with bold lippy!

  • Just read this since you linked it on twitter and thanks for that! I love your honesty and openness about this. My makeup look post today sort of touched on how I treat makeup nowadays but I used to use makeup to hide my insecurities as I had horrible acne and had zero self esteem. I was horrible at makeup years back too but I thought wearing makeup to cover my acne and skin made me feel better. I used it as an armour but it didn’t really made a difference. I hated myself and what I saw in the mirror with or without makeup. It has taken me years to get to this point of accepting and loving myself. Now, I put makeup to enhance what I like and for added confidence. It’s not a chore anymore to cover up but as a nice treat to myself as I spend time and effort making myself look good not for others but for me and my well-being. I hope that made sense!

    • I’m so glad that you can accept and love yourself now! I’m working on that, and it’s a hard journey. I’m going to go and read your makeup post today. Thank you for commenting.

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