Like most people, I’m a series of contradictions. I hold mixed-up beliefs that sometimes don’t make any sense. I disagree with myself. I think it’s good for me to do so; there’s a lot happening in my brain at any one time, and much of it is garbage, like noise pollution. I have to tell the insecure noises, the noises that keep me awake because I’m worried about things that I have no control over, the noises that insist I’m not good enough, that they’re wrong.
But I’m also a person with evolving beliefs. I’m a person who, you know, buys a cell phone or a Jurassic Park jacket or a fancy pen despite knowing full well that I don’t need those things, that there are people who need things far more than I do. I have to grapple with that, because to not grapple with it is to pretend that the world is fine when it isn’t.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, in part because we just can’t get away from capitalism on my podcast, and in part because I fairly recently read Becoming Dangerous, a book about ritual and resistance that left a lingering impression on me. Not every ritual discussed in the book is one I partake in, but some – gardening, makeup – are. When I put on lipstick, I think about them. When I pull weeds, I think about them. I think about what they mean on a large scale, and what they mean to me, Melissa, an individual who is trying to exist and be content.
I’ve talked before about my relationship with femininity, and how embracing it by choice has changed so much about how I engage with the world. Makeup is part of that, even as I acknowledge that beauty standards are bullshit, that makeup is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, that it’s probably bad for my skin. I can contain all that knowledge, all that conflict, and still slather on lipstick when I’m going into a situation that makes me uncomfortable because I, like everybody else, am a contradiction.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
n. from Old English dwimor, for illusion
Some say that you ought to take a girl swimming on a first date so she can’t wear any makeup. Annalise wonders whether those people have ever heard of waterproof mascara.
You can make anything into magic if you try. There’s a ritual to makeup, a little prayer that foundation doesn’t oxidize. People–men, mostly–fear lipstick as surely as magic, as if it had anything to do with them.
She’s cognizant that makeup isn’t innocent–no magic ever is. They can try to dunk her underwater to prove her a witch, just like her ancestors, and she’ll rise to the surface, laughing.
This is beautiful, from the exploration of what it means to be a human and the contradictions in our world and ourselves, to the lovely prose inspired by your experience.
Thanks for sharing this piece, I truly loved reading it!
Melissa! I love that wee drabble. It’s wonderful. And I’m very happy to hear Becoming Dangerous left an
impression. Glad you enjoyed it!