Hello, and welcome to No Make-up Week! NMUW is curated by Rachel over at RabbitWrite.com. Rachel blogs about sex and intimacy, and all sorts of other stuff, too. When she invited me to participate in No Make-up Week, I jumped at the idea.

NMUW is all about exploring our relationship with make-up, and as a person who’s worn make-up since the age of twelve and who dedicates a fair portion of her blog to make-up tutorials and advice, it’s not just a topic I think is important – it’s a topic I connect with on a [very] personal level. As I said in my introductory post on Saturday, I believe it’s healthy to examine anything we decide to need or love or fear, and that’s just what we’ll be doing this week. You can keep up with official No Make-up Week posts on the project’s home page, here: http://rabbitwrite.com/no-make-up-week/.

I’m going to kick the week off by sharing my history with make-up.I realllly hope at least some of you do the same.

  • Moscow. I’m seven and my mother is a very glamorous woman. Always has been, as far back as I can remember. One of my fondest memories is of her coming home to find me with a face full of make-up and denying having raided her dresser. Man, I loved going through that dresser. Jars and tubes and bottles and brushes and that unique smell of lipstick, powder, and perfume.
  • Los Angeles. I’m twelve and in junior high and all my friends are Mexican. I try to wear my face as they do – foundation, powder, eye shadow, lips lined dark with a lighter color fill. I don’t figure out how to apply liquid eyeliner until a year later. Other kids give me crap for wearing so much make-up, but considering the fact that they give me crap for almost everything I do, it doesn’t make any difference. Make-up becomes armor right around then. I get suspended for nearly breaking someone’s nose.
  • Lafayette. I’m fourteen and people keep calling me a witch because of the nearly-black cherry nail polish I’ve taken to wearing. My hair is bleached and my boots are large. My style icon is Courtney Love.
  • Denver. I’m fifteen, goth as fuck, and I shave my eyebrows off, along with most of my hair. The jocks pick on me, a lot, so I keep my look somewhat toned down at school, compensating for it on the weekends. On weekdays, my make-up alternates between black cat eye liquid liner and black shadow raccoon eyes. I haven’t left home with a bare face in years.
  • Los Angeles. I’m seventeen, and finally perfect blending and begin to figure out how to draw my eyebrows on properly. Sometimes I grow them out, sometimes not. I’m going to an arts high school and no one picks on me anymore. I wake up at 5am to spend an hour on my face each morning, parading the results like a proud peacock. Armor in full effect, shiny and impenetrable.
  • Chicago. I’m twenty and in art school and the weather is repulsive, year round. I tone down my makeup and grow out my eyebrows for good, defeated by the elements. I hate Chicago.
  • Los Angeles. I’m 26 and working at a hip & happening office. I’m free to dress however I like to work, which leads to a fashion column. It also leads to occasional oversleeping and having to rush to work, sans maquillage. I begin to like my bare face, first out of necessity, and later on principle.

It took me fourteen years to begin to accept and display my bare face? Dayumn. That’s not to say I’m no longer vain and don’t despise unflattering photos, mind you.

Today, I adore make-up, and am much better at applying it than in the past, thanks to a short-lived career in professional make-up artistry. I love artifice and pomp – dressing up and creating new looks is still one of my favorite things to do. I wear make-up 75% of the time when I leave the house, but! I’m also really into the fresh-faced look. I don’t panic if I wake up at someone else’s place and don’t have a full kit with me. I don’t feel crippled by running out of foundation. Because of all my years of covering up, it’s almost a little perverse, like baring a coquettish ankle in Edwardian times, and I like that. Most importantly, I no longer need make-up.

Sweet freedom is mine.

And you? Share your stories, photos and experiences, and if you blog about it, include links, too! All photos of bare faces will be included in tomorrow’s post.