Why do they call it a beauty ‘regime’? Saddam Hussein had a regime, Bashar al-Assad has a regime – I’m sure that doesn’t mean that they cleanse, tone and moisturize (okay – cleanse maybe, usually ethnically). I don’t want to be part of a ‘regime’. Regimes tend to be full of people having to conform or live a life of constant terror. I guess that’s what it’s like to live under a ‘beauty regime’ – too terrified to face the world without a good primer, foundation and powder – or something – I don’t know – I’m a freedom fighter. It’s not like I don’t wear make-up. I have a scruffy, grime-encrusted make-up bag with crumbling old eye-shadows, a dried up mascara that I can’t even unscrew any more, something silver and glittery that smears onto your eyelids or lips I don’t know which, a number of eye-liners that have been sharpened down to 2cm stubs, and a little square of blusher which has a millimetre of colour left around its outer edges that I scrub at with a brush until there’s enough on it to puff onto my sallow cheeks in a desperate attempt to make me glow like Scarlett Johansson. (Yes, she crops up alot in my day dreams of how I would really like to be.) I know I’m supposed to invest in bottles of creamy beige lotions or mousses that I paint onto my face. I think what follows is some kind of powdering ritual to take the greasy shine off because you’ve just coated your face in paint. It’s the painting of the face I just don’t get. We have skin, which is skin-coloured. It’s quite a nice colour, and it has little, tiny holes in it so it can breathe. Putting foundation on it is just icky, and sticky, and you have to spend the whole day touching it up with more and more powder to keep the greasy shine down, until by teatime you have a one-inch beige crust on your face which makes your whole head look like a big Fray Bentos pie.
But what really scares me – more than having a pie head – are women who think it’s perfectly okay to apply their make-up on the train, or the bus, in public, in full view of hoards of commuters, and usually me. I hear that familiar clatter of the newly opened make-up bag and my heart sinks. It makes me fidget uncomfortably. To me it seems like an incredibly intimate routine to be doing in public, mainly because of the facial contortions. But I can’t not watch. The pursing of the lips, the arching of the eyebrows, the sucking-in of the cheeks, and the universal ‘mascara-application’ face which is darkly vacant and zombie-esque. All followed by the lipstick ‘lipsmack’ and the craning of the head in several different directions to check their work in a mirror the size of a postage stamp and the final few finger dabs under eyes and at the corners of the mouth. I mean why can’t they just get up ten minutes earlier and have it all done before they leave the house? To me it’s like being party to a form of facial masturbation. Do it in private.
I’m waiting for the morning when my train has to break suddenly and the woman who always does her make-up on the train will blind herself with a mascara wand. It’ll be tragic I grant you, but at least I’ll be spared the grizzly spectacle of her ‘mascara-application’ face gurning near me every morning.
Be brave ladies – don’t over- paint your face – overthrow the regime!