Make-up is not about vanity or narcissism; it is about masquerading insecurity and enhancing confidence.
I have dark hyperpigmentation underneath both of my eyes; a build up of melanin under the skin. This is common amongst Asian skin tones and many experience this around the sides of the mouth. My hyperpigmentation is not caused by a lack of sleep or a bad diet; it is something that I have no control over. They are not dark circles. I have spent years attempting to reduce their appearance, but they are two permanent rings that both circle and cover my eye area. I also have deep-set eyes which are positioned deeper into the skull, causing the brow bone to appear more prominent. The combination of hyperpigmentation and deep-set eyes causes my eyes to appear bruised, almost as if they are sinking into my face.
At the age of 12, a boy at school began to tease me about having two black eyes. He would constantly ask if I had been punched in the face, which led me to develop a serious paranoia about the hyperpigmentation. I became so self-conscious that I would even refuse to have my photograph taken. In fact, I have no pictures of myself from between the ages of 11-16. Although this boy did not realise the gravity of his teasing, his comments were embedded in my mind. Every single time I looked into the mirror, my eyes were drawn to the hyperpigmentation. My skin was pale causing the hyperpigmentation to look even darker than it was. This led to people constantly asking whether I was sleeping properly, whether I was tired, whether I was eating at all. Over time, the area seemed to darken and my confidence diminished itself. I looked unhealthy and there was nothing that I could do about it. I felt ugly and was envious of girls that had bright under-eyes. My hyperpigmentation was the first thing that people noticed when they looked at me.
At the age of 18, I discovered beauty videos on YouTube and I was exposed to an entire world of make-up. I had not been particularly girly, but finding out about the existence of concealer was absolutely revolutionary. I found that there was a product that could potentially cover up my hyperpigmentation and make me look healthy; it could make me look human. This lit up my whole world.
I finally began to feel good; I felt confident. I felt pretty. There was light on my face. People began to tell me that I looked like a whole new person. Although I tried not to rely on the concealer, it was comforting to know that I could cover up the hyperpigmentation if I wanted to. The discovery of make-up made me realise that I could play with colour and transform my appearance in accordance to my mood.
People talk about make-up as a means of contributing to vanity but it is so much more than that. Imagine feeling insecure about something your whole life and then suddenly finding out that you can cover your insecurity. It has nothing to do with narcissism; it is a means of breeding confidence.