It was a cloudy, wet Thursday afternoon.
I was sitting in a circle of about 12-15 black youth I knew well from marches, activist spaces, and spoken word events. We all sat on hard, plastic chairs facing one another and trying our best to pay attention to our impassioned healer.
She was a magical Black woman who came in that day to help us learn how to heal our traumas and revive our energies.
It was a black-only space that served as a means to catapult us to our journey of healing. As she stood before us with words of wisdom that affirmed our existence, we all sat with a mixture of apprehension and bursts of giggles.
It was an intense and yet comforting energy.
We had run through the basic introductions and hellos, but it had finally gotten to the real stuff. With an expression of calm, she asked us all what rituals we engaged in that defined us and helped us deal with the world at large. While things, like brushing my teeth and tidying up, were things I considered part of my daily routine, I was asked to dig deeper.
What repeated actions did my day consist of that allowed me to blossom and not think of the impending doom that is my life?
[bctt tweet=” I always assumed I held makeup dear to my heart because of the pure joy.” username=”wearethetempest”]
That is when I realized the 10-30 minutes I spent most days doing my make up are when I feel the calmest.
I always assumed I held makeup and lipstick so very dear to my heart because of the pure unadulterated joy my make up covered face brings. The feeling of satisfaction I feel when the arch of my filled in eyebrow is geometrically perfect. When the crease of my eyelid lines up and my curve of my eyeliner is just even. When my liquid matte lippies stay within the lines of my lips and are not sloppy looking.
The everyday routine of applying lipstick every morning to the tunes of my Spotify Discover Playlist brings me internal peace.
I realized my ColourPop lipsticks and metallic red eyeshadows serve as a cathartic form of therapy for me.
Just like my antidepressants, which I take on and off, my makeup is a coping mechanism I had unknowingly picked up over the years as a way to deal with my very real problems.
With every stroke of my lipstick, something within me quells.
Those precious moments I spend applying my makeup before treading out into the scary world everyday fuel a sense of bravery and armor for me.
I feel my makeup is an extension of the chaos brewing inside me but in a more packaged, cleaner form.
Anastasia Beverly Hill’s Paint Liquid Lipstick, a shocking and outrageously good blue shade, represents a kick-ass version of myself that feels more comfortable taking up space. My brown Limbo lip pie represents a more relaxed, chill version of myself that I imagine is similar to Solange. My bright purples remind me of music festivals, hanging out in parks in the summer, and smiling at cute boys.
Each lipstick tube is an extended version of my different personas I can’t occupy at all times due to my varying mental illnesses.
It wasn’t until I turned 20 recently that I began doing some introspective looks into the ways in which I have survived in my body. This body occupies the Black, gender non-conforming, Muslim experience everyday, and I have learned to cope in healthy and unhealthy ways to exist.
My makeup routine is one coping mechanism which may seem insignificant, but it has truly come to define my being.
My makeup is personal, therefore political.
It signifies my never-ending tendency to really live life and not just survive.
Every time I pick up a lipstick or apply my NYX highlight on my cheekbones, I like to think I am resisting the many systems conspiring to oppress and silence me.
Disclaimer: While make up served as a great means of self- therapy, it by no means replaced medical attention and medicine. This is my personal experience and should be read with caution.
Furthermore, if you are suffering from depression and feeling suicidal please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline for help: 1-800-273-8255.