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I Tried to Explain What I Enjoy About Makeup to My Male Friend Who Doesn't Get It.

04/06/2015 04:17 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2015

Probably for a lot of people, makeup is something slapped on quickly to make yourself look more "presentable." Probably (sadly) for a few it is an essential chore they feel they must do before daring to set foot in the world. Sometimes makeup is just a quick fix, a cover-up, an "improver." But the way I present my face isn't necessarily about looking "pretty" or "nice." It sounds mental, and it is hard to put into words, but I had a conversation with a male friend about beauty which helped me get my thoughts together on the (deeply important) subject of how I wear makeup.

So, we all know that boys just don't get it, claim to like "no makeup" with no idea what that actually looks like, and generally have no taste, right? Girls don't really do makeup for boys, girls do makeup for fun. Boys don't understand the subtle nuances of eyeshadow choices, the different ways that wearing a lipstick can be a subversive act. Boys take makeup at face value, and taking a face at face value is totally missing the point.

Boys view makeup-wearing with their "captain obvious" hats firmly on. Pink lipstick means girly girl. Lots of eyeliner means goth. Short hair means boy. One of the funnest things to me about putting on makeup or getting dressed is thinking about how to avoid the obvious associations of some of your choices. It's about, in its simplest sense, contrasts; discrepancies between different "vibes." Putting something super trampy with something super chaste, or something really masculine with something really feminine, or something conventionally ugly with something conventionally pretty. It creates interest and evades easy categorization. And it allows you to try out different personas without any type of commitment. You get to wear something which tells the world one thing whilst at the same time telling the world something opposite. Perhaps I've over-intellectualized this (very likely), but what I mean is doing something as simple as wearing leather trousers with a baggy knitted sweater, or bright lipstick without any other makeup. Do you see?

Alongside their insistence on making the most obvious assumptions, boys also seem to think the point of makeup is to make you look better. The fools! The idea of only wearing "flattering" things fills me with ennui. I can see their point of view; I get that this is hard to understand. There is something annoying and arrogant about saying "I don't need to try to look prettier." But you don't. If you're going to try to look anything, try to look interesting. Try to look like you're a good conversationalist, like you tell top jokes and like you are making aesthetic decisions for your own happiness. Draw on your angry eyebrows; wear the lipstick which everyone hates; be happy for your own sake.

My disparagement for the idea of "prettifying" elicited the glorious response of, "That's fuckin dumb. Lemme paint myself up with something that I know will make me appear less pretty?" It does seem crazy to make effort in a direction which most people you encounter won't appreciate. And don't get it twisted, I like looking pretty. I'm not doing comedy "ugly" makeup. It's just putting in something a little jarring, unexpected, interesting and not necessarily "flattering." It's fun. I love it. That's all there is to say.

I do worry sometimes that I'm wasting my brain space on worthless thoughts about what to wear all the time. We're all going to look the same after we die and our bodies rot away, etc. But I can't help it. Presumably like any other hobby, it has infiltrated my mind. I can't watch films without making mental notes about what characters are wearing. And like any hobby, it brings enjoyment to my (otherwise empty - kidding) life. That in itself gives it worth.

One good thing about boys is their readiness to admit their inferiority in the conversation. They know that they don't know anything, and that's refreshing to see. My friend showed extreme promise, because he already knew that my choices were in no way based on other people. "It's just lipstick. Who gives a shit, as long as you like it?" Amen, I say.