Dealing with Beauty Lover's Guilt

Monday, 9 May 2016

I have been debating about writing this post for many months because it is something I think about a lot, but don't necessarily discuss very openly (or certainly not online). But I started thinking that I'm not a particularly unique makeup collector, so perhaps my relationship with makeup buying and the guilt associated with that isn't super unique either. Maybe I misjudged, feel free to correct me if I did, but the hope is that this post opens up a discussion we should be having!
My process of becoming a makeup lover and collector was a bit weird. I stumbled into the online beauty community when youtube suggested I watch one of Bethany Moda's (then macbarbie07) monthly favourites videos. I was shocked that this kind of video would interest anyone, but I kept watching and haven't stopped for going on four years. It was around this point that I decided I was going to pursue an interest in makeup and beauty. I say 'decided' because I remember very consciously starting to tell people that I was interested in this new world, and that's probably seared into my memory because of the reactions I received ("I thought you were more down-to-earth than that"). Hence, my interest in beauty began slightly smeared with shame.

It's not a secret that the western world views makeup and beauty as shallow, self-centred, and lacking any value. We could talk for hours about why that is but right now I'm a bit more interested in the effects this has. When I tell people that I'm a beauty blogger, or that I really like makeup, I can see in their eyes their opinion of me changes (sometimes they even tell me out loud!). I'm an intelligent, independent university student who spends most of her time reading, writing, and making theatre. And, not to sound up-myself, but when people meet me, they have a pretty solid view of my intelligence and social/cultural standing, which doesn't correlate with someone who loves makeup. How could someone like me like something as dumb as makeup?

While it's all well and good to say 'be yourself' and 'don't worry about what other people think', it can be incredibly hard to brush off the shame of being a makeup collector when it feels like everyone around you personally and in the media are telling you that your passions are not worthwhile and, in fact, reflect badly on you as a person. Perhaps that's why so many people in the online beauty community speak about the relief they felt when they found the community for the first time. Finally, here was a group of people who loved makeup like you and wanted to talk about it, play with it, and enjoy it like you.

But I, personally, haven't found it that simple. Like I said, I'm a university student and I am not rolling in money. Where I choose to spend my disposable income has a major impact on other aspects of my life because I don't have a lot of income to begin with. My inclination, and habits, of spending large sums of money on beauty, coupled with the constant reminder that makeup is for shallow people, makes these transactions feel guilty. Why am I spending money on makeup when I could buy something worthwhile, instead? This begins the discussion in my head about what I 'should' be spending my own money on.

To elaborate, I also spend a lot of my disposable income on books but I never feel guilty about buying a book because reading, whether the book is good or bad, is valuable and worth my investment. Makeup, though, I constantly have to justify as a hobby in order to counterbalance the shame or guilt I feel for loving it so much. I regularly compare these two hobbies of mine to try to figure out why I feel so completely differently about each of them and it can only really come down to the fact that books are unquestionably valuable and makeup is not. 

Recognising that bias as something imposed upon me by the people and culture around me is a huge task that works its way into pretty much every beauty purchase I make. But it's the first step to reaching reconciliation in these two aspects of my identity: the reader and the makeup collector. Coming to terms with makeup buying guilt goes hand in hand with recognising one person can entertain both of these hobbies without sacrificing any aspect of identity or integrity.

I know I have a lot of work to do here but I feel like I make progress when I place value in myself and my interests without excuses or caveats. It's a really deep-seated issue, this guilt, that has many layers that extend far beyond just me, so hopefully, sharing my experiences here will allow someone else to recognise this internal struggle and maybe we can start a discussion about it. Who knows, it might help!

So, please feel free to share with me any experiences you have with makeup collecting guilt or shame and don't be afraid to get as personal as you like! I'm interested in talking about it with you.

xx Julia

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