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  • Wearing makeup is my job.

  • Over the last decade, I've used hundreds of lipsticks, thousands of face creams.

  • And I've amassed millions of followers making original lifestyle content for my YouTube channel.

  • I use cosmetics almost every single day.

  • Then came the pandemic.

  • In quarantine, I can count the number of times that I've worn makeup on one hand.

  • And it's not because I've suddenly come to dislike it.

  • It's because I no longer have the need or the desire to perform for the external world.

  • Life as I knew it has evaporated.

  • What's left is just the question: Why do I apologize for looking like me?

  • Like many women, my relationship with how I look has been complicated.

  • At 14, I fell in love with strawberry-flavored lip gloss and bright eyeshadow.

  • And by 19, I was wearing makeup every single day.

  • It even got to the point where I was showering with makeup on because I didn't want a boyfriend to see my acne underneath.

  • At 22, making beauty videos on YouTube officially became my full-time job.

  • And how I looked was directly connected to how much people liked me.

  • The world has expectations for women.

  • I've appeared on camera without makeup, and people have told me that I'm lazy or even worse.

  • They've told me to take pride in myself.

  • If I wore makeup, the next day, then I was fake and shallow.

  • And if I went more than a few days without wearing makeup, then my credibility as a beauty expert was questioned.

  • I'm 31 now, and I thought I finally had my relationship to makeup figured out.

  • I wore makeup for myself, not for others.

  • Or at least, that's what I told myself.

  • Now, two months into quarantine, I'm realizing just how much I was still performing for other people.

  • I've come a long way from showering with makeup on, but I still feel uneasy attending a meeting or an event.

  • Even on Zoom, when I'm at home without makeup.

  • I'm noticing myself in this familiar pattern when I get on video calls.

  • I apologize for how I look, and then I regret it.

  • And almost every woman I'm on a Zoom call with does this, too.

  • We spend the first few minutes in this ritual of picking ourselves apart for gray hairs, wearing sweatpants, having dark circles, wrinkles, pimples.

  • And apologizing for not wearing makeup, and covering it all up.

  • Things like acne and dark circles are universal realities.

  • But women aren't allowed those things.

  • And the science shows that women who aren't considered to be well-groomed are actually paid less.

  • It took a pandemic, but finally, women can focus less on how we look and focus more on what we do.

  • In this crisis, what I'm seeing on Zoom or when I look out my window are women.

  • Women who are useful, not just seen by the world as decorative.

  • In quarantine, an active self-care for me is using makeup as a mirror to express my emotions, not mask them.

  • So I'm challenging women to do something new with me: No more apologizing for how we look.

  • One part public protest, two parts self-compassion.

  • If isolation has taught us anything, it's that our most important audience is actually ourself.

Wearing makeup is my job.

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