#Opinion: I and Make up – By Ucheoma Onwutuebe


Before I and makeup began to get along, our relationship was everything but smooth sailing. It is best described as a case of unrequited love, with me being the forlorn and desperate lover and make-up being the proud partner, strutting around with its cold shoulders.

The craze for makeup began in the peppy days of my early twenties in university. YouTube makeup gurus were creeping out steadily and building a cult following of girls my age. I and my friends had tons of videos in our devises and would study the amazing tricks and transformation of these girls.

However, many options of makeup products were not available to us in those days and even if they were, the wherewithal to purchase them as students did not come in handy.  The only option we had was to improvise. For instance, in the place of blush, I applied by hand red eye shadows which unfortunately had too much shimmer and were poorly blended in my face. I drew the wrong type of attention; people looked at me in askance. A path cleared for me naturally when I walk into the lecture hall.  I still cringe when I see pictures of me in those days.

But over time I mastered my artistry by watching YouTube videos for a long period of time. Those girls taught me how to arch my brows, how to choose my right shade of cosmetic for my skin colour and how to blend in the entire look without having to look like I have a mask on.

The first time I was makeup shamed was in 2011. During one of those protracted ASUU strikes I was returning from the library and my Uncle accosted me on the road and asked why I had so much painting on my face. Didn’t I see his wife and how modestly she adorned herself?

“But I am wearing it to enhance my beauty.” I replied.

“What is there to enhance?” He asked.  “If you are fine, you are fine. No makeup can help you. You only end up drawing attention to the wrong kind of men.”

That has also been the sentiment of many people towards me, especially men, in respect to titivating. Whenever they saw me sans makeup, they immediately let me know that I was more beautiful with my bare face than I was with makeup on. Not so long ago, a former significant other told me that I wore makeup because I lacked confidence in my own true beauty.

To wear or not to wear makeup is a question that keeps recurring both in the mind of the wearer and in that of the beholder.  No matter how anyone feels, the choice to wear cosmetics is personal. The power of makeup can never be too lauded. For my uncle who said makeup is not useful, I beg to differ. Makeup can serve as a propping, a scaffolding of some sort that holds ones face together. A droopy eye can suddenly be made to come alive. Scant eyebrows become thick and full of hairs and thin lips fill up into a sultry pout.  A round face can appear chiseled and with few strokes of brush and powder decades can be erased or added to a woman’s face depending on the effect she wishes to achieve. Actors depend on make up to add or achieve authenticity to a role or character. The illusion it creates is why it is called art. Make up artistry.

I doff my hat to all the women and men who sit in front of mirrors daily to enhance and recreate nature’s work for whatever reason they choose to wear it.  I only hope you wear it for the right reasons. It is dangerous to wear makeup to conceal a skin flaw that requires treatment. It is dangerous to wear makeup to impress anybody. It is dangerous to wear it to hide oneself. It is only last year I began practicing how to leave the house without makeup. It was becoming a drug I was hooked on and which left me cranky if I did not have my fix on it. It became a form of obsession, like the world would come to an end if I was ever found with a bare face.

And that is where balancing sets in. I am learning when and where to wear or not to wear makeup; I am learning new styles and also saving money for the right products. I have also come to the full realization that I wear it for no one and I owe the world no form of explanation for adorning my face.

Happenings Media