What does a woman look like?

I like to think that I don’t need make-up to look good. Heavens, most people don’t need to lather their faces in layers of make-up the way they say they do; often times it’s just a perfectly justified desire to put it on for whatever reason appeals to them. Most people do it for the confidence- there’s nothing a splash of red lipstick can’t fix, really. Then again, tonnes of women use their foundations and powders to hide what they’ve been led to believe are “flaws” with their skin.

Hang on, a juicy zit isn’t an indicator of perfectly healthy skin, but depending on whether it’s one pimple or many pimples, whether it’s a case of sheer vanity or a downright hormonal issue, oftentimes a bump or two is perfectly normal!

Most mothers help their daughters on the journey to discovering the whole new world of shades and colour palettes- my Mum never did. This doesn’t mean I never raided her vanity case a gazillion times from the time I was a pre-teen and knew where she stashed it, and tried on the myriad of lipstick colours she owned, or even her compact powder (remember those cuties?), but never to her knowledge.

When I left the country and settled into Australia, the best knowledge of any make-up usage I had was that of the precious, glorious lifesaver that is the eyeliner. Five years later, I also now know how to work different lipsticks.

And that’s about it.

Yesterday my self-confidence took a slight trampling when I was told that I don’t look like a woman, but a girl. No, definitely not the worst insult that has ever been thrown at anyone (my Mother would tell me to take it as a compliment), but at almost twenty-five and in an age where my Facebook feed is constantly filled with images of Margot Robbie’s flawless feminine grace and Michelle Obama’s unwavering confidence and as the epitome of womanly strength (in my eyes, at least), being likened to a “girl” was a complete scandal.

I was a girl when I lived with my parents and never had to lift a finger to help around the house. A very spoiled girl.

I was a girl when I moved to Australia and expected the same treatment of the relatives who were kind enough to let me live with them rent-free. A very entitled and stupid girl.

I would like to believe that I stopped being a girl when I moved out of said home and started working my golden butt off to afford rent and food at the same time I was going through my university exams.

I would like to believe that I stopped being a girl when I decided to postpone my postgraduate studies for an uncertain amount of time because I could not afford it in Australia, and refused to allow my parents shoulder that responsibility.

I would like to believe that I became a woman when I ventured out there, put myself so far out of my comfort zone, met people I loved and didn’t quite love, got promotions through sheer grit and determination, learnt my strengths and weaknesses, and also when I met the man I’ve decided I would quite like to share the rest of my life with.

Which brings me to the question: What does it take for a person to look like a woman when they most certainly feel like one?

Perhaps that’s another factor I had never before considered as to why so many young women turn to make-up. To look more mature, to portray on the outside how they feel on the inside. To swap their little girl-like facial qualities for the dangerous contours of a woman’s cheekbones.

The thought is steeped in flaws, but I can’t help but wonder.

Perhaps that’s what I should consider doing for myself, if it helps me be taken a little bit more seriously as a woman… Actually, I’d rather not.

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