There was a period in junior high school where I experimented with make-up. I remember a day when I won an eye shadow kit in a contest and took the opportunity of lunch to beautify myself in the bathroom. I think I chose a Kermit-esque shade of green. I showed up in history class after lunch and the boy who sat next to me, never the most tactful young man, said with genuine horror, “what’s all over your face?”

Perhaps I improved my technique a bit and learned a little about color, but I never really got the hang of it. I wore mascara to all the high school dances. I’ve bought, very occasionally used, and eventually thrown away various products both cheap and expensive. I am fully aware that some well-applied concealer would do wonders to mitigate the dark circles that have been under my eyes since I was a kid.

But I just don’t have time to worry about it, and I evidently don’t care enough to become more expert in make-up application. I’d rather sleep for five more minutes than make myself up in the morning. And then there’s the other thing.

I feel kind of weird about it. I know it makes you look better, I get that. But it’s not really me and it’s not really what my face is like. One of the most important things about me, for which I have been loved and teased, is that I am genuine. I am me, take it or leave it. A former co-worker accused me (not in a nice way) of being “guileless.” So what? Why should I be otherwise?

My mom wears lipstick. I wear lipstick. My sister understands make-up and wears it well, still managing to look natural but artful. I’ve already told Zoe that when she’s older and wants to learn about make-up she needs to ask her aunt.

But then there are special occasions. I wore a little makeup for my wedding. I think my sister helped me put it on. For her wedding, she treated me to a professional make-up session. I was so transformed (and I am the first to admit I looked terrific) that some of my own relatives didn’t recognize me. 

So last week I was scheduled to have a professional head shot taken, for us on various website or in print publications where I am plying my trade. And the photographer arranged to have a make-up artist there to pretty us up free of charge before the photo shoot. So I did it. Who doesn’t want to look beautiful in a photo? And she made me up, very naturally, and the photographer took the photos.

And I got them back today and it’s weird. Everyone says the pictures are beautiful. I agree. But I feel a little strange because it doesn’t look like how I look every day. I guess it doesn’t have to. I suppose can be extra lovely as I represent my professional self. And go back to being my normal, flawed self the rest of the time.