Blog / 2010 / Putting My Face On

September 23, 2010

I don’t wear make-up. The only times I have were when I was on stage doing theater, and, even then, I had to have one of my castmates do it for me before every performance. I have no aptitude for painting faces—not like that anyway!

I can’t say for sure how the make-up meme skipped me, but I suspect it has something to do with my feet.

I wear a size 12. By the time I started high school, my shoe size was beyond the offerings of most women’s departments. The girly footwear that did fit me looked clownish at best and boat-like at worst, so I stuck with Converse and Birkenstock. With that aesthetic, shaved legs seemed superfluous and maybe even a bit incongruous. From there, it wasn’t hard to rule out cosmetics. Before I knew it I was bonafide 1990s grunge-hippy-punk teenage tomboy.

Though I eventually embraced a more feminine look, I never learned to apply make-up or shave my legs, and I’ve never gone to the “drag queen store” to find girly heels—though it’s surprising how often I’ve had that suggested to me. By the time I was interested in dressing like a woman, my comfortable shoes, natural legs, and clean face had become too much a part of my personal style and my personality to give up.

Ever since my feet got big enough, my appearance has had a way of threatening a certain demographic. Male and female alike, there are people who have told me that I’m less feminine, less attractive, less professional, and less appropriate because of my feet, legs, and face. And that kind of feedback has only reinforced the feminist in me.

Tell me I can’t look a certain way and still be a woman and successful, and I will make certain that I prove you wrong.

When I was little, I remember my mother putting her face on. It was something she always did before leaving the house. And I get it. After all, it’s not like I leave my house without putting a face on too. My version doesn’t happen to require the application of cosmetics, but it’s the same concept.

painted portrait of a smiling woman with short grey hair
Gwenn Seemel
Mother
2003
acrylic on canvas
33 x 28 inches

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