I remember the first time I wore make-up. I was 16. A close high-school friend of mine had a powder compact she would sneak into school. We went into the girls washroom and put on the "amazing powder". After applying it for the first time I thought it made me look beautiful; different. So each day, as soon as the end of day school bell rang, we would rush to the girls’ washroom and powder our faces for the trip back home. We were so new to the make-up thing that we didn’t know that the color of the powder had to match the user’s skin tone. I think it’s vital for me to mention at this point that my friend’s skin tone was two shades lighter than mine…and, we used the same shade! So, hurriedly (because we wanted to catch the school boys also making their way home), we would put on our make-up, which only consisted of a compact powder and Vaseline for the lips. A few minutes later, after combing our hair in place (the finishing touch), there we were, two giddy 16 year olds with no sense of how uneven our skin tone probably looked. We had to look great for the trip home after school you see; actually, one had to look better for that trip than any other trip in their life as a high school student (so we thought). Anyway, back to the story, so my friend and I would walk through the uptown Harare streets to the taxi ranks all dolled up (but not without a couple of detours to the Ximex mall (pronounced Zi-mex) ). It was against school rules to be found “loitering” in the uptown shops and malls. It was exciting; the rush of an impending apprehension by eager school prefects... wow!! There’s nothing like it.
I guess it’s obvious to you now that my early experiences with make-up had little to do with aesthetic reasoning and more to do with adventure and experimentation. We thought we were fabulous. The idea that we girls had powder on our faces regardless of whether the tone was off or whether we wore too much of it didn’t faze us. I would not like to see a picture of myself back then…well… maybe only to get a good laugh. I’ve learnt so much more about make-up over the years since then. I’ve had so much help from my make-up artist friend Sibahle. Today some of you reading this right now may feel like the 16 year old version of me. There are so many resources now about what make up works for you and what best suits you, whether for daily wear or only for special occasions. I think make-up is about liberation: the choices, what colour/s to wear, how to wear it, when you wear it. I love make-up! There are some women that will make you feel small for wearing make-up. I’m not going to say anything else about those women.
In closing, what has stayed with me from the moment I first powdered my face at 16 is the good feeling; the confidence you get when you wear make-up, whether it’s just lip-gloss or mascara. At 16 when I looked in the mirror after powdering my face, I thought I looked beautiful. And you know what’s most important about that regardless of the fact that the shade of powder was off…I THOUGHT OF MYSELF AS BEAUTIFUL. The opinion you have of yourself matters more than that of another!