If the “mom jean” is the high-waisted, wide-cut through the hips and skinny through the calves, faded monstrosity made popular by the talented women of SNL, then the “mom face” is the hurried makeup look done by countless women every morning where you slap on just enough concealer and mascara not to look exhausted, but typically feel like doing your makeup is just one chore among many on a busy weekday morning. I’ve seen plenty of “mom face” YouTube videos, which typically emphasize speed and minimalism. While there is certainly a place in everyone’s beauty arsenal for a quick five-minute face, I feel like we’re doing a real disservice to moms to suggest that this look is theirs and theirs alone.
We’ve defined “mom” in our society as busy, stressed, and tired. She is vastly competent yet always on the verge of failure. She is ever-present yet always on the go. She is supposed to engage in self-care, yet be completely self-sacrificing. She is rarely celebrated when life runs as it should, but is the first to be blamed when it doesn’t. In terms of makeup, she is supposed to look effortless and rested, but not too effortless and rested lest those around her think she is not working hard enough. Circles under her eyes? She needs to take better care of herself. A full face of makeup? Obviously she’s too self-indulgent.
As a mom who loves makeup, I am tired of these contradictory standards that restrict not only mothers, but how we’re allowed as a society to perceive mothers. I am tired of the twinge of surprise and judgment that follows any statement about taking joy in makeup, the backhanded compliments from people who say they wish they had “that kind of time” to shop for lipstick or play with eyeshadow. I am tired of a society that expects mothers to perform their dedication to their families by making sure no one suspects them of enjoying themselves.
I know plenty of women who say that taking care of themselves helps them to be better moms. That’s true, and very important. But why can’t we realize that it’s even bigger than that? Indulging a passion helps us all become better people. Making time for something you enjoy is about you, but it has a positive effect on those around you. You can simultaneously do something for yourself and for others–it doesn’t have to be either/or.
My Mommy Makeup? It’s whatever I want it to be that day.Mornings can be busy, so I typically pack my makeup bag with whatever eyeshadow, foundation, etc., I want to use the night before. Then I wake up a little before my preschool-aged son and husband, take that makeup bag downstairs, pour a cup of coffee, and start to play. (Ironically, or perhaps poetically, I do my makeup in my son’s playroom.) I love to start my day with that quiet, peaceful, almost meditative practice of smoothing on moisturizer, blending in foundation, patting on concealer, watching bronzer and blush wake up my skin, adding a little highlighter for glow. It’s not about correcting flaws or trying to look as others expect me to look, somewhere between Real Housewife and Walking Dead. It’s about me starting my day with my passion.
Your passion might not be makeup. You may hate makeup and want to spend as little time as possible with it. That’s fine. If it doesn’t bring you joy and it’s not a concrete requirement in your day, don’t do it. Your passion might be something you can only do on the weekends rather than every morning. That’s also fine. Just remember that whatever you love to do, it’s not only okay to do it for you, it’s essential.
Moms are people, too. And people are busy and stressed. People work hard and struggle, succeed and fail.People have passions and hobbies. So in the end, there’s nothing wrong with a five-minute makeup look (or no makeup at all for that matter) but it has nothing to do with motherhood. It’s about recognizing your needs as a human at any point in your life. And that’s an experience we all share.