Dear man on the train who tutted as I started applying my make up,
I am not sorry. That day I had to go into London for a meeting. Normally I do not wear make up. I do not feel I have to draw a face on my face to make me acceptable to the general population. I wear make up as a mark of respect for meeting new people, attending a special event or to give me a little boost of confidence in an unfamiliar situation. You do not fall into any of these categories. I was not putting on make up for you, but for an upcoming situation that I felt I needed a little bit of a boost to deal with. Masks are good for this kind of thing. Your tutting was not.
I had walked out of the house that morning with 2 lunch boxes, a water bottle, a book bag, a ju jitsu kit and my hand bag in one hand and dragging an obstinate and surprisingly heavy 3 year old with the other. It was like pushing both donkey and cart up a hill myself. Prior to this I had packed the aforementioned lunches, made 4 beds, cleaned 3 sets of teeth, thanked my husband making for the kids' breakfasts and my soul sustaining coffee, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, put together a load of washing and wrangled two children into clothes they categorically did not want to wear. (It is my son's life goal to wear a onesie to school every day - I may start a petition to make it so.) I did this with a minimum of emotional blackmail, one bribe and one minor temper tantrum (mine). I also had to answer the question 'why does the earth go round the sun?' to the satisfaction of a pedantic six year old. God bless Google.
Oh yes, I then had to find an outfit that would minimise the size of my stomach, mask any weetabix smears that came my way from my kids and their wretched affection for me, and generally made me look smart and insouciant and exactly the kind of person you want in your workforce. Suffice it to say, my freshly made bed was groaning under the piles of rejected clothing options and my lower lip was wobbling just a bit as I squeezed into a pencil skirt for the first time in over a year. (This was what caused the temper tantrum.) Now I'm sure if I wore make up and smart clothes every day, I would find a way to squeeze this irksome chore in around the all the others that have to get done if i am not to be judged as a bad mother/partner/human, but I don't have to and I don't want to.
So you sat there opposite me in your t-shirt and trim little beard and you tutted at me as I carved out a few minutes on the train to give myself this little gift of confidence. I am at a loss to understand why this offended you so. I'm conscientious enough that I'm not billowing powder all over the shop, I don't think a single mote of Benefit Dandelion blusher touched you and I use the rather excellent Laura Mercer eyeshadow sticks so there was no risk of contamination there.
Were you concerned that when I came to do my mascara I might run amok and mascara your beard into new and interesting shapes? It was tempting, especially after the tut, but I am a civilised human being, not prone to acts of wanton decoration.
Do you think I am somehow breaching some sort of personal privacy barrier, that I am doing something that should only take place behind closed doors? Why? Make up is not hygienic - it is not part of a cleansing routine, no intimate body parts are on show. All I am doing is colouring in my face. Do you get upset when children use colouring in books in public?
Or did I shatter the illusion that all women have eyes like gazelles, cheeks like razor blades and lips that glisten without any cosmetic assistance? Did I pull back the curtain and reveal to you how women draw on themselves? By making this explicit to you, by not maintaining the facade of artfully natural beauty, I may have unintentionally diminished the value of your assessment of women. Does it offend you because when I put on make up in public it shows i do not care about your opinion of me? I was a woman who did not care about your gaze, your approbation. I do not need you to like me with or without make up. You do not matter.
So tut away, good sir. I have said my piece and I will continue to put on make up when and where I damn well please.
Bare facedly yours