The first time my boyfriend of two years spent the night, I woke up at 7 am consumed with fear that the man beside me would see my makeup-less face and run for the hills. Having not been blessed with anything close to flawless skin I feared his reaction to the torrent of bumps, blotches and acne scars that was my face. So, just like an all-too familiar romantic comedy scene, I snuck out from under his arms and gathered the necessary tools to hopefully transform from groggy, baggy-eyed earwig to “I woke up like this” effortless goddess.
The goal wasn’t to look like I had ever left the sheets but rather that I was just naturally good looking, even after a night of little to no sleep (insert winky emoji).
I started with a primer infused with shimmer to replace the glow that had long been drained from my pores by dint of no exposure to sunlight. Then, to cover the mini volcanoes and craters on my cheeks, I layered on bb cream. I covered the ever-persistent why-won’t-you-go-away black circles under my eyes with concealer and a touch of white eye shadow. And after, for that perfectly flushed, rosy glow I brushed on blush from the apples of my cheeks to my ears. I curled my eyelashes but skipped on the mascara, as even I couldn’t convince myself that what mascara did for my eyelashes looked natural.
My hair, which was doing all the wrong types of post-sleep things things, was flat on one side and frizzy. Contrary to what the name suggests, that perfectly full, tousled hairstyle seen on the likes of models and style icons and playfully coined “bed head,” is not achieved by waking up and walking out the door. Rather, it took brushing my hair through then using a concoction of salt spray and dry shampoo to make it look anything even remotely comparable to the likes of Kate Moss’ or Alexa Chung’s sexy styles.
After a spritz of perfume and a swipe of lip balm I returned to my room and carefully slipped back under the weight of his arm, my hair artfully naturally fanned across the pillow. And sure enough, he woke up an hour later and told me I looked beautiful…he even said he loved how I looked “without makeup on.”
We’ve been together for almost two years now. And still to this day he swears he can’t tell the difference between my face with makeup and sans makeup, despite my having long retired the habit of creeping to the bathroom in the morning. However, now I often find his obliviousness to the effort I put into getting ready to be frustrating. Sweet, yes, but a little frustrating all the same.
How can I look the same pre-date night as I do post-shower, do you not see how much bigger my eyes look and how much smaller my pores are? (Like I no longer resemble an earwig, can we acknowledge my return to humanity?) Just the other day I prodded for a compliment on my blowout for twenty minutes to no avail. When I finally pointed it out, he said that although my hair looked pretty, it always looked pretty in its big messy kind of way and that he saw no difference.
For a moment, I found that kind of irritating (I just spent $45 on something he didn’t even notice), but then I realized two things: all the makeup and the hair curling and the brow plucking, that is all for me. Those are things that make me feel more confident and more attractive. I could roll out of bed and leave my house without touching my face or hair, and I do–just ask the baristas at the Starbucks on 50th and 8th–but doing my makeup and blowing out my hair are my “me moments” that make me feel better and more capable of taking on the day.
And second, didn’t I want him not to notice, just like he didn’t notice that morning two years ago? Wasn’t that the point? To look as effortless and natural as possible, like you possess that certain je ne sais quoi? So that I can say yes, “I woke up like this,” (at least the second time.)