Makeup is a sword, not a shield

As a zoomer, I grew up thinking that comments—which were really just thinly-veiled insults—about physical appearances were OK. It’s what we see every day in Philippine media. They’re just barbs, harmless jokes to lighten the tension. Remember that scene in “Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy” where Mark keeps making fun of Snow White for being dark-skinned?

The thing is, though, it’s not OK. Words hurt—even if they’re meant to be a joke. And they can stick around someone’s head long after they were said. Besides, who decides which joke about someone’s physical appearances is harmless and which isn’t?

It’s not our fault that we’ve been conditioned to think it’s OK. We’re just responding to what we see on TV. According to the cultivation theory proposed by George Gerbner, “The influence goes to such an extent that world view and perceptions start reflecting what [are] repeatedly seen and heard on television. Television is, therefore, considered to contribute independently to the way people perceive social reality.”

Looking paler than most people, I was often teased for this in school. The other kids would tell me, “You look dead,” or I would hear classmates sing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” whenever I was in earshot. And that’s toward me, someone who conforms to the beauty standard. If I had to endure jokes about my looks that made me feel bad, what more other girls who didn’t fit the beauty standard?

A study says that “only four percent of women around the world currently consider themselves beautiful.” And according to a study done by Dallas-based organization Just Say YES, “when girls feel bad about their looks, more than 60 percent (from age 15 to 17) avoid normal daily activities such as attending school, going to the doctor or even giving their opinion.”

Personally, I ended up turning to makeup to make me feel better about myself. It’s true for a lot of girls in a similar situation. Makeup can feel both empowering, and like an escape.

And while makeup helped me a lot, what truly helped build my self-confidence was when I stopped putting up with people who constantly put me down. Instead of letting me feel bad about how I look, the people who now surround me have beaten me up (figuratively!) whenever I say anything close to negative about myself. 

When I started liking and studying what I saw in the mirror pre-makeup, I also started gaining a healthier relationship with makeup. It was now my secret weapon, something I use not because I have to but because I want to. 

If you’re starting your own makeup journey like I did, here are tips that might help you:

On-the-go most of the time? It’s hard to keep track of the contents of your purse if you’re digging through a lot of stuff. That’s why it’s best to use makeup that you can use for multiple parts of your face. Take for example Spotlight Cosmetics’ primetime liquid foundation and its rising star lip and cheek tint. 

I find that medium coverage foundations like theirs can also act as concealers when you’re covering bad decisions (aka all nighters). Just layer them up until you get the coverage you’re looking for. And while we’re all familiar with lip and cheek tints in the market, we’re also looking for ones that actually look au naturale. 

If you’ve ever wondered why people usually look at the eyebrows first, it’s because it sets a mood. According to the New York Institute of Beauty, “they help accentuate the eyes, shape the face, and play a powerful role in communication.” Though we have to admit, no one is born the queen of brows. And while not all have the time to actually perfect theirs, there’s always Spotlight Cosmetics’ fine tip eyebrow pen which helps you fill them in nice and slow.

Spotlight Cosmetics is available in Watsons and SM Beauty Store.


Art by Jan Cardasto

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