Last weekend I was transformed. Well, part of me. My face.
Large Indian weddings call for dramatic makeup, so I had a consultation with a bridal makeup artist. I was literally airbrushed. I’d always thought that airbrushing was something one does to a photograph, but no. It’s something one does to a face. Oscar, the makeup guru, sprayed my face with nebulized foundation until there wasn’t a single freckle or line.
I don’t normally wear any makeup, so this was a marked change. Those friends and family who saw it thought it was an improvement. One well-meaning individual said I looked like a completely different person and I should do my makeup like that everyday. Hey! I couldn’t help but think, that’s my face you’re telling me to hide!
Should I be indignant? Was the preference for air-brushed me a rejection of actual me? The whole thing reminded me of a scene I used to imagine as a kid. Souls are lined up in Heaven, waiting to be born, while God stands at the front with a huge sack. As each person steps up, God reaches into his sack, blindly grabs a face, and sticks it on that soul. It was a quirky daydream, but I do think it captures how arbitrary the pairing is between our faces and our selves.
This randomness raises a question: why not look like someone else, if your face came out of a grab bag anyway? That may be what some women think every morning as they coat themselves in L’Oreal. They would have a point.
The good news is that, with time, we take possession of our faces. Our years of emotions and expressions lay down the lines of older age: laugh lines for people who are happy, scowl lines for those who aren’t. It strikes me as funny that when we finally claim ownership of our faces, we’re expected to cover them up.
Don’t think I have a burning hatred for all things cosmetic. Makeup can be fun! And I did feel glamorous after Oscar worked his magic. However, that doesn’t make it any less of a curious custom. Imagine throwing out your shoes as soon as you’ve broken them in. They’ve only just begun to fit! Men understand this. Like a pair of favorite shoes, men will wear their face forever. Even if the sole is falling off.
However my face looks on my wedding day, and whoever I may appear to be, I can be certain of one thing: the only product on the groom’s face will be ChapStick. If that.