Detours column

[DETOURS] Let me wear that red lipstick

Niña Christelle M. Sumintac

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[DETOURS] Let me wear that red lipstick

Art by David Castuciano

‘Some people do not like wearing makeup and I respect them – I used to be one. But I hope that we could also respect those who choose to wear it and not judge them for doing so.’

Editor’s note: People look at other people who wear makeup differently. Some even judge them for doing so. In this essay, Niña shares how she’s just looking at the confidence that makeup gives her and just ignore the rest. You, too, can share your life’s greatest detours. Here’s how.

People wear makeup for different reasons. Some do it to express their creativity, some do it because their job requires it, while others do it as a form of mental therapy. I belong to the third group – the reason I started wearing makeup at 27 years old.

The thing is, I wasn’t really a fan of wearing makeup. Perhaps because I grew up with my father who always told me that wearing lipstick would make your lips darker or because I didn’t really go out often and would rather read books instead. It could also be because I had a distorted way of thinking that putting tons of products on your face will result in rashes or breakouts. 

Perhaps, I was also afraid of how society would look at me. I live in a province where wearing makeup isn’t the norm. People would ask, “Ayanna iti papanam?” [Where will you go?] everytime they see you wearing something on your face. Others would also say that the reason you are wearing makeup is because you want to capture the interest of a man, “Apay sino aya iti pagpapapintasam? [Who is the person whom you are making yourself beautiful for?]

With these assumptions I wrongly carried with me and the fear of society’s perception, I refused to wear makeup. Unless it was necessary like high school promenades and ceremonies, which I had to hire a makeup artist to do the job.

I still remember when I was in high school and some of my classmates were late to our class. The teacher was discussing the result of our quiz. They came inside the classroom with their makeup fixed – complete with well-trimmed eyebrows, blush-on, and lipstick. Our teacher quipped, “Nu kuma inusaryo tay oras yo nga agreview kaysa dayta ag makeup makeup nangatngato kuma naala yo.” [If only you used your time to review rather than do makeup, you would’ve gotten a higher grade.] 

I took note of her suggestion wholeheartedly and focused on learning what we needed to learn in high school, I never took the time to learn putting on makeup even when I reached puberty and my hormones were raging. Powder, tint, and lip gloss would’ve come in handy.

In college, even if our teachers encouraged us to wear makeup, I still didn’t do it. I remember someone called me “suggabba”, an Ilokano term that does not really have a direct English translation, but it refers to a person who is unkempt and is not pleasing to look at. My hair was frizzy and messy, my eyebrows were thick and almost a monobrow, my lips were often dry, I did not even bother to use baby powder even if my friends were fond of it.

It was only when I had my first job at a private school that I felt the need to be more presentable because I faced students every day. To add to my confidence, I started wearing lip tint and using baby powder for my face. But that was all. Then I had my short stint at a public school where I learned how to use cheek tint – just a little add on to what I was already used to.

Then when I started working in a state university, where I am a teacher for future teachers, I came to a turning point. I felt “alarmed” that I looked pale in comparison to my students. So, I decided to up my makeup game and searched for Michelle Dy’s basic no powder, cheek tint, and lipstick combo.

Then the pandemic came and put the whole world on lockdown. Just like everybody else, I found ways to take my mind off the everyday stress even just temporarily. It was during this time that I found myself watching more and more YouTube tutorial videos and checking out makeup products on online shopping platforms whenever there’s a sale.

I came to appreciate makeup more and more. I loved how it made me feel more confident, I loved the excitement I get while I’m doing it, and the satisfaction of looking at the final result. Now I know why my classmates spent so much time doing their makeup.

I acknowledge that I’m still new to this thing. I still need a good amount of concealer to fix my brows, I still can’t put winged eyeliners perfectly. But I try. I would love to learn more about this newfound skill that I grew to love.

Some people do not like wearing makeup and I respect them – I used to be one. But I hope that we could also respect those who choose to wear it and not judge them for doing so. –

Niña Christelle M. Sumintac is a junior faculty at the Mariano Marcos State University College of Teacher Education. She is currently the Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Person and the StratCom News Correspondent of the College.

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