Dark monkeys with bright paradise faces
Make-up is silent and odourless, like natural gas. It is all around us. It is make-believe’s cousin, both work quietly to improve our daily lot by lifting us above it for a minute or two each day. Make up is optimistic and a bit silly, like a dreamy friend from school who has never quite gotten the hang of adult life.
Make up is not a mask, it doesn’t hide things, not really. It’s more like an anti-depressant, not changing reality, just softening it’s edges.
I have no formal training as an investigative journalist and my sister’s puppy has eaten the internet connection, but if my memory serves me right, make-up originated thousands of years ago in New York City. A Queen was visiting at the time, a famously plain Queen. She was inspecting some soldiers when she suddenly fell - face first, into some mud.
The mud covered up a blemish on her nose and some spider veins on her right cheek. Two little leaves clung to her eyelids, making her eyes POP with colour. Some berries got squashed against her mouth with the force of the fall, making her look sexy. She was transformed! Someone quickly etched her image and everyone went gaga for her new look. All the commoners emulated the newly beautiful Queen by daubing themselves in dirt and debris. That evolved into our modern day lipstick, powder and paint.
I know you can’t tell because you can’t see me right now, but let me tell you I am currently wearing a LOT of makeup. Here’s what I did today. I put a light browny beige liquid all over the skin on my face and the parts of my neck that are showing. I put a cream coloured paste under my eyes to disguise the dark circles.I have a lemony yellow colour on my eyelids to make them match the rest of my face and I have drawn a pinkish circle around my mouth to make it look generous and less like a little boy’s mouth. Finally, I isolated and coated each eyelash in black paint.
And now I feel just great! All of these potions and particles have brought me up to a regular human girl standard and I look natural and friendly because of it. Thank you, cosmetic industry!
Bear in mind that my plans for the day include nothing more exciting than sitting down and writing to you nosey parkers and then bothering my sister Raedi about what to do with my winter clothes. I’m having trouble deciding whether to donate them to charity or burn them. Part of me feels like it’s rude to expect people, even poor people, to wear my velour hoody from five years ago with a broken zip and a shadow where some meatza I was eating fell on the sleeve. Another part of me feels guilty about starting a bonfire late at night in my elderly neighbour’s garden. It’s so hard to know what the right thing to do is when life doesn’t come with a guidebook.
My sister Rosie is naturally very pretty and she is also very good at putting on make-up. It seems unfair, doesn’t it? What if I tell you she is also kind, funny and clever? If you’re anything like me, you’ll stamp your feet and become incandescent with rage at the realisation that one person can have all of those qualities. I worked on my personality for many years in the mistaken belief that being witty and nice would serve me in my quest to beat the beauties around me. Then I found out that most of them were naturally witty and nice, and didn’t spend their time in their room listening to Radiohead and imagining some ultimate battle where only one woman could emerge victorious.
But back to Rosie, she did have some make up training when she went to beauty therapy school. She used my mother as a model for her exams. That was interesting because my mother doesn’t usually wear make-up, and Rosie had to demonstrate every technique she had learned on her face all at once. She made my mother look like a geisha. A middle-aged geisha, off-duty and in tracksuit bottoms. We couldn’t stop staring at her as she poured our tea and sat back demurely on her heels. Rosie cannot bear to watch me put on make-up. She said I rummage around the bag and pull out whatever is inside and smear it on carelessly, like I’m finger-painting in play school. She’s kind of right.
You see, I think it’s dishonest to use make up to just look like a better version of yourself. I believe its purpose should primarily be decorative. Don’t try to camouflage your skin, unless you want to blend in with a pre-teens bedroom, all glittery and pink. A lot of brides, sorry, Brides want ‘the natural look’, so that their groom can tell which one they are. I think they are wasting an opportunity. They will have a make-up artist on hand and 100% guaranteed attention from everyone at the wedding. They should take advantage of that and get their make-up done in a beautifully unique way.
If I ever achieve my dream of being a Bride, one of Earth’s angels, I will get a stunning job done on my face. I will shade all around my eyes to make them look absolutely gigantic. I will use brown eye shadow to play up their dull blueness. They will be azure, all-seeing globes, swivelling around the cathedral of my head and taking it all in. I’ll ask the make- up artist if she has any ideas on how to make my cheeks sharp like razor clams. A Bride’s mouth must say. ‘I have chosen and been chosen’. A big circle of lipstick should be applied to emphasise the ‘oh’ sound therein. Finally, I will stick a few diamante teardrops to my face, because a crying Bride is an unforgettable Bride.
The train from Cobh to cork takes twenty four minutes and that is exactly how long it takes my sister Daisy to do her make-up. By Little Island, her foundation and concealer are in place. She’s applying mascara with an impressively steady hand as we shudder past Fota Island and blotting her fuschia lips as the train pulls into Kent station. It would be catastrophic for her schedule if she learned how to drive. Daisy works in a market and I think it’s great that people get to see a vivid and bright face when they’re being handed their bread. Kurt Vonnegut appreciated the lady in his local post office making an effort with her hair and make- up, he never knew what she’d look like on any given day and that pleased him. I’m sure lots of other great people are the same with Daisy. I, for one, love her jewel coloured face, so cheerful and pretty.
This is an extract from Maeve's fantastic book
We Have a Good Time, Don't We? - its out right now. Go and get it!
And check in tomorrow for the next part of her makeup guide - you don't want to miss it.
We have FIVE SIGNED COPIES of the book to give away. Just leave a comment and either Tweet or Like on FB to enter - give Maeve some love!