Monday, 20 December 2010

Colour Me Up

Most of the people we all know are addicted to something: cigarettes, chocolate, shoes, bad relationships... For some reason addictions are inherent to human beings and people who claim not to have any obsessive inclinations at all are either lying or potentially crazy and dangerous (Hitler and Stalin allegedly had no "vices").
I, for one, can't hide the fact that I'm addicted to several things like my iPhone, eating Japanese food, wearing heels which are inappropriately high, compulsively watching or reading anything that bears the label "Hollywood Classic" and... makeup.
Ever since I was 15 I've been making up, at first wearing discreet Dior pink and pearly tones suitable for a young lady, then progressively darkening colours and getting more and more extravagant, which accounts for my current collection of purple and burgundy lipsticks, glittering metallic eyeshadows and statement nail polish hues. Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I can spend hours speaking about makeup, I relentlessly pick up tips from makeup artists at shootings and my idea of a good time is to spend an afternoon at Le Bon Marché with Vanni, both of us looking for new products like a pair of hysterical circus freaks.

Could all this get to be too much? A couple of months ago, when I started thinking I couldn't live without tricolor manicure and false lashes, I realized the whole thing was maybe getting out of hand. So, willing to take up on an experiment and in true Vogue America style, I decided to give up makeup cold turkey for 8 straight days and keep a diary of the experience. Would it be possible to get off makeup?

Day 1: I stare at my bare skin in the mirror. Oh God I look so very... natural, so 2001, so peasant-like! I actually have to go to work, meet people and be a typically sophisticated fashion industry insider. Well, I'm willing to work the natural look, but not by being "really" natural! So I apply a touch of foundation and translucent Shiseido powder as well as a touch of lash curler and very discreet YSL mascara. I look at my bare nails in horror (no one has actually seen my nails bare for more than 10 years) and, since I still have almost an hour to kill (wow, making up every morning does take time!) I decide to do something about them. I know I still keep some very discreet Chanel Rose Satin polish somewhere in the fridge.

Day 2: Well, the first day was not soooo bad, was it? But I feel ashamed to have cheated on myself like that, I really should be taking this more seriously. I decide to be truly brave and not only do I just wear moisturizer on my face, but I also take off my nail polish. The bare look doesn't go at all with my petite robe noire and my pumps. Oh well. I make a face at myself and get out of the house trying not to think about it.

Day 3: Even if I have slept more than I normally do because I don't have to spend an hour creating my lipline and eyeliner, I don't think I look rested enough. If I could only use a bit of Touche Éclat the world would seem different. But I have to be strong.
To be honest, I thought things would be better by now and that I would feel more confident precisely because I was daring to be "myself". But truth spoken I actually feel less confident at work and more self-conscious when surrounded by other people. I start to reflect bitterly on the concepts of identity and self expression.

Day 4: I suddenly realize I'm spending a lot of time looking at women's faces on the street. Most Parisian women wear makeup, and I can't help but think everyone looks so much prettier and glamourous and strong than I do! I'm starting to dislike my un-made up face. I have nice skin and I normally don't think I'm ugly, but the thing is now I feel like I'm too exposed to others, like I had been given a sort of truth serum that has made me vulnerable. Is that what people mean by "being yourself"?
Day 5: I don't care about anything anymore, really. I could be dressed in a potato sack and I wouldn't mind. It would actually go better with my face and hair than the popelin blouse and high-waisted skirt I'm wearing. Whatevs. Depression.
Day 6: I'm starting to really hate this experiment. What gave me this idea in the first place? Am I gonna spend the rest of the year on Prozac on account of this week? I feel really tempted to quit, but there are just 2 days left; besides, who knows, something positive might happen? Yeah, right. Put on your coat, don't look at yourself in the mirror and get out of the house.
I must admit it's very difficult to quit makeup when at work you are continuously exposed to it. As I leaf through an Armani press kit filled with luscious lipstick hues, someone behind me is talking about the best way to apply golden eyeshadow. Then I realize I'm not thinking any less about makeup... If something, I'm getting more and more obsessed with it!
Day 7: I can't stand it anymore. I really need to cheat again... and cheat in style. So I give myself a Belle de Nuit bicolor manicure in purple and golden. I'm wearing no makeup on my face, but I don't feel as bad anymore: my nails look amazing! Just one day to go.

Day 8: I don't give a hoot about today, from tomorrow on I can feel good again! I have become aware of the fact that this "natural" look actually didn't feel natural at all. It felt (self) imposed and gloomy and dull. The natural thing for girls (actually for women of all ages) is to want to have fun, feel good with themselves and be special; and whatever makes them feel like that will be the natural thing. In my case it's playful makeup, and that's that.

So, all in all... Regarding the original objective of giving up my makeup addiction, this experiment has simply been an epic fail. Maybe if I had gone on for a month it would have ended up working, but quite frankly I doubt it. As I cheerfully retouch my lips with classic YSL Fuchsia, I am pleased to notice my obsession is far from pointless. Through the years, makeup has helped me be more self-confident and strong. It is not, as many want to see it, a mask that conceals someone's real personality, but rather a tool which helps to fully express it. And, as Baudelaire put it, "tout ce qui plaît a une raison de plaire".

Monday, 6 December 2010

Paper Planes

If you don't happen to be Spanish, you might not be "au courant" of the recent events that have been shaking my country: last weekend, just before one of the most important holidays of the year (there are lots of holidays in Spain, yes.), 100% of Spanish air traffic controllers decided to "fall ill" at exactly the same minute. As this is not a political blog, I won't go into the details of the matter (stuck tourists, thousands of people who had been saving up for a holiday unable to fly, state of emergency declared, the army taking over etc etc etc), but I can now officially say I think air traffic controllers (at least the Spanish ones) are the meanest, most selfish, most beastly little creatures I could ever imagine.
This air traffic controllers bussiness comes as the cherry on top of the cake: flying nowadays means having to queue for ages in airport check-ins and standing nearly naked in front of everyone whilst your bra keeps beeping as you are being searched. It also means dying of boredom in waiting rooms surrounded by rude bussinessmen in shiny suits, having to pay 10 euros for a packet of peanuts and sitting for hours next to hollering babies. Does anyone remember when planes were glamourous and comfortable, when people used to get complimentary glasses of champagne and elegant, fur-covered ladies as flight companions? Now it's worst than taking the tube. I really think flying is getting obsolete... From now on, whenever I can avoid planes, airports and of course air traffic controllers, I will. Instead, I'll choose to be treated as a human being; I'll choose the train.

... Or maybe even a ship. Anything for a fun, exotic trip. Bye airports, bye planes. Bye bye air traffic controllers.