Getting all done up in full makeup is a pretty big investment on two fronts, or so it is for me. Makeup isn’t cheap, and it takes a lot of makeup to transform Gabe’s rugged man-face into the soft and feminine face of Gabrielle. It also requires significant time to get all that makeup properly spackled on and detailed just right. Therefore I have to plan ahead, making sure that I have enough makeup on hand and a window of opportunity available in my busy life.
Unlike many genetic women, applying makeup isn’t something I get to practice on a daily basis. Sometimes it doesn’t quite turn out right and there’s a price to pay.
Full makeup vs. makeup-lite
I’ll often just apply partial makeup or what I refer to as makeup-lite: some eyeliner, blush, eye shadow, and lipstick. Quickie partial makeup jobs don’t take long, and not much makeup is used up in the process. If I were about 15 or so years younger, this approach might be all I need to look good as Gabrielle. If I want to get out of the house or take photos however, it requires a lot more makeup and time necessary to apply it. The main reason is vanity. If I’m going to show myself to the world in photos or in person, I’d prefer not to look like a man wearing makeup, or at least minimize that as much as possible. The signs of aging and my troublesome “man-shadow” need to be properly covered.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit exactly how much time is required to complete a full makeup job. My wife can do her face up nicely in just minutes. Gabrielle requires considerably more makeup though. In my own defense, I don’t exactly get as much practice as women do, therefore it is a skill that is developing very slowly.
With the investment of so much time and effort into makeup application (including the extra body shaving involved and doing my nails, etc.), I’d like to be able to show something for it. Taking photos to capture and remember the moment is always high on my list. Unfortunately, I’m often unaware of a bad makeup day until reviewing my photos. Oddly, I can’t always tell in the mirror first.
The cost of a bad makeup day
So what exactly is the cost of a bad makeup day for Gabrielle?
1) Time I can’t have back
Time is lost that might have been spent attending to responsibilities or simply relaxing. My life is a busy one. Hours of precious time lost to something that didn’t yield any returns really hurts.
2) Depleted makeup supply
I’m out that much more makeup after a bad makeup day. If the makeup doesn’t turn out well, it feels like supplies (and money) were wasted rather than utilized.
3) Nothing to show for the investment
There’ll be no new photos to share with the world. Regret and frustration fill the space that beautiful photographic memories should have.
It is cheating?
Being pretty slick with photo editing software, I could probably salvage some of the (bad-makeup) photos by touching up the problem areas. I already do color correction, fix up small problem areas, and remove blemishes and other minor unsightly marks in my photos. I’ve always done the same for photos of me in guy-mode, too. Although I’m capable of going a lot further, doing any major re-touching (on my appearance) feels like cheating to me. I prefer to show people what I looked like rather than what I tried to look like.
Photo: “bad day”
The picture up top was taken on my most recent bad makeup day. Photo after photo, nothing was turning out well. My face was the major problem area… it just didn’t look right. It didn’t look feminine enough. Subtle mistakes in the way I did my makeup caused some major problems. I tried changing the lighting, but it didn’t help. It was very upsetting – to end up with such an unproductive investment of my time. Shifting focus from trying to get a good photo of me, I instead took a few shots of how I felt. They of course, looked terribly ugly.
Applying some artistic stylization, the photo was made to appear as you see it. I like that word – “stylization”. When I fail look presentable on my own, I can always stylize the look of the photo. It’s an artistic way of masking problem areas. The stylized look is obvious and therefore not really much of a “lie”, or that’s how I feel about it. I can now say that I’ve simply chosen an artistic approach to the image, rather than explain that I looked terrible and needed to somehow remove or obscure as much detail as possible in order hide that fact.
When life gives you lemons…
I’m a firm believer in the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This particular bad makeup day wasn’t a total loss. Although I did not achieve (photographically) what I set out to, I was able to re-purpose a couple photos for other things. There is also the photo in this post, titled “bad day”. I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it either. Insecure as I am in my own vanity, there is a certain artistic quality to the picture. The look of defeat was captured on my face. It’s real. That’a how I truly felt in the moment. Frustrated and tired, I was about to call it a night… a wasted night. However that one last photo turned into this reflection upon a bad makeup day – something quite trivial to most people, and yet very important to so many of us.
Does it happen to you, too?
I know genetic women have their share of bad hair days, but I don’t imagine bad makeup days happens often. How many other t-girls experience the same? I’m not the only transgendered perfectionist, but perhaps I am the least skilled with makeup application… for now, anyway.