Make up! I am not a fan. I don’t wear any make up other than mascara and eyeliner, sometimes a little eye shadow. I knew Carli would be asking for my opinion and assistance with her make up and I have tried but the truth is I am hopeless and really no help at all when it comes selection and application of make up.
It took me a long time to understand why make up is so important for Carli. I think she is beautiful without it. Women should feel valued and beautiful with or without it, right?! For me, I just can’t stand how it feels. The last time I wore foundation was 29 years ago when I last performed in a musical at my hometown playhouse.
It took me a long time to stop being impatient as Carli fussed with her make up. Since I don’t wear much make up, and I wear my curly gray hair natural it takes me no time at all to get ready to go. Carli on the other hand takes much longer to prepare than she used to and to be quite honest it was annoying, that is until I really started to pay attention to why she feels this is so important.
When I look in the mirror I am okay with who I see. I am fine with being 50 years old, fine with the lines beginning to show more prominently, fine with the gray hair creeping in. When Carli looks in the mirror she worries about things I will never have to worry about myself. She worries if the shadow of her beard is going to be the first thing people see, giving away her transgender identity. She worries if people will see her Adam’s apple. She worries if there are enough cues for people to come to the correct conclusion and appropriately gender her. I will never have to go to such lengths in order to be accepted or understood.
Thankfully Carli has friends who are much better with make up than me! I had no idea that putting orange lipstick over her beard under the foundation would help hide five o’clock shadow! She found professionals who help her select the right shade of foundation for each season, depending on how much of the summer garden tan lingers. Our son’s friend knows how to sculpt eyebrows; don’t let me near hot wax! I am incredibly grateful for these people. They have been so encouraging and caring, filling in the gaps where I had little to offer Carli.
When I watch Carli getting ready in the morning, I stand behind her, reaching around her for the comb or the lotion we now share. I watch her carefully applying make up to make it easier for other people to understand her. I watch her lean back, tilting her face from one side to the other, making sure it’s all blended evenly. I am equal parts sad, proud, and humbled. Sad because she has to go through all of this just to be accepted for who she truly is. Proud because she is brave enough to live her life as her true self. Humbled knowing how privileged I am for never having to do any of this just to be myself.
When Carli stands up from the vanity and asks “how does this look” sometimes I still can’t really see the subtle shading of the make up, but I can easily see that she is beautiful.