Growing up Mormon, my only directive was to marry a good returned missionary (an RM). This was, in all honesty, all the instruction to accompany my upbringing. At my most ‘spiritual’, I was also at my most superficial. Which is far from strange because The Spirit (the feeling of which one must announce as often as possible to other Mormons) is something I can best describe as a state of blankness. It’s peaceful. There’s nothing there.
So as a teen, I reapplied my makeup nightly, as well as sporadically throughout the night as I woke up and frittered my insomnia away about my parent’s sprawling ranch house. A few of my friends had all agreed that measures best be taken in case of an emergency; these were mainly envisioned as fires or sudden trips to the hospital. But I really committed to sleeping in full, powdered regalia after a midnight hazing the older cheerleaders undertook yearly to initiate the freshman squad.
We freshmen had to go buy tampons at a Walgreens in which a particularly cute male cashier worked nights. Without makeup was the point, and getting tampons while crawling the entire way were kind of garnishes on the humiliation. Of course, I wasn’t supposed to use tampons. They tampered with one’s virginity. So the mortifying showcase trumpeting one’s menarche was additionally embarrassing to me in that I always did feel that I was wearing diapers. Diapers in a symbolic, social sense, and also literally. I don’t think I bought pads that night instead; that would have drawn extra attention to myself, though satisfying my ingrained frugality.
As a result of sleeping in makeup nightly, my pores clogged. Adding to the pre-existing teenage acne, I developed quite awful skin, leading me to be ever more vigilant that it remain slathered at all times. Besides, waking with makeup on came in handy for seminary class, a religious study course Mormons have to attend daily before high school. Before school for us, that is- we were painfully mindful that the Utah Mormons got to take seminary at their public schools, as an elective. No five a.m. honking of minivan horns for them.
Seminary class started at six, but our parents drove us in large carpools that had to make the rounds all over town; groups of Mormons aren’t all that concentrated in Texas, and several towns shared one meetinghouse when I was a teen. Thus my ride arrived at five twenty in the morning every weekday, stalling and laying on the horn something fierce just outside my bedroom window, which was the only room of the house facing the driveway. Making the pilgrimage a bit less solemn, but perhaps even more sacrificial, was a morbidly obese man. Brother So-And-So, I remember vividly, had some sort of medical condition causing constant excessive salivation. No one wanted to sit in the front seat of the van next to his captain’s chair; it was covered in drool.
I bore this waking up hardship valiantly, just the way I imagined the pioneers conducted themselves whilst pushing their handcarts from Boston to Salt Lake City through snow-covered mountain passes with “faith in every footstep.” I still think about those pioneers. I imagine some steps involved more faith than others.
But I digress. When you sleep with lipstick on, you wake up with it in your eyebrows. When you sleep with mascara on, no matter how hard you try to sleep in a lovely, princess-y way, on your back with your arms folded across your bosom, you eventually thrash around and turn over onto your belly in your sleep. This crushes one or both sets of lashes to the pillow underneath, which sets them in a bizarre angle outwards, making you look old and shocking and strange to yourself in the mirror later. Or to the person you wake up next to; for me that was much, much later.
The thing is, don’t sleep with makeup on in case of fire. It’s a kind of pedestrian, backyard cruelty. Even later in life, waking up with makeup on made me a stranger to myself. It meant there was someone else there. In almost every case, down to a man—or woman—someone who really shouldn’t have been there.
Clogged pores aside, insecurity produces sluts. Sluts don’t need morals, or manners; they need attention. Learn to be smarter, more creative, with your flaws, whether they’re pimples or deep gaping existential soul-holes. For example, early in the relationship with my first live-in boyfriend, I would wait til he fell asleep, take and hide his glasses, then wake up early and put concealer on before returning them to him.
It’s a process. You’ll probably let go of the lipstick first, then the mascara, and slowly, over the years, the powder and foundation, and then finally, the concealer.