Who Is That Masked Woman? By Dorothea Hunter
In college I had the best guy-friend ever. Sean and I lived in the same dorm, we treated each other's rooms as if they were our own, and we indulged in frequent rounds of "Who's Hot, Who's Not"—shamelessly rating our fellow University of Chicago students based on their looks.
I knew that in Sean's estimation, I was one of the hot girls. But Sean didn't know how I got that way: that every day I primped for hours to create what my mother called the Face—the mask of makeup required for any self-respecting woman to be seen in public. In college I clung to my version of the Face as if survival depended on it. Not even varsity tennis practice could prevent me from applying MAC NW20 foundation, Clinique Sweetheart blush, bubblegum pink Estée Lauder lipstick, Benefit Bad Gal eyeliner, and L'Oréal black mascara. I dreaded the day when Sean would see me without the Face; I'd wait for him to go to bed—sometimes until 3:30 in the morning—before slinking to the bathroom to wash it off.
And then it happened. Running late one morning, I barely had time to brush my teeth, let alone bother with foundation or the trimmings. On the way to class, I blurted out, "Ugh! I look disgusting." I must have sounded desperate, because Sean stopped and said, "Doro, what are you talking about? You look no different from any other day." That's when I realized that makeup had little bearing on how others saw me; it enhanced my looks only by making me feel a certain way. I still wear Bad Gal et al., but it's no longer a daily necessity. I don't need a mask to look like myself.