Why Makeup Is So Important for my Mental Health

I have always loved make-up. From dabbling with bright blue eyeshadow for a Brownies disco, to discovering a love for lipstick in sixth form, to experimenting with nail art and starting this blog. But to me, make-up is far more than just dolling up and making myself look nice; because of my battle with trichotillomania, beauty products are a way for me to cover up my illness, make me feel 'normal' and boost my confidence. Without it, my mental health would surely suffer and it's definitely a huge comfort blanket for me.

When you ask most people what make-up means to them, I am sure many will give answers that go beyond purely aesthetic reasons. It's a creative outlet, a form of expression, but it also empowers and allows you to convey who you are. The only difference is that trichotillomania has made me fear life without make-up. For many, it gives them confidence and makes them feel great about themselves, but for me...I feel like I need it. I feel like I will be judged by society if I don't wear it to cover up my illness.

In the same way that I feel dependent on it, I am grateful to have it at my own expense to cover the baldness. I don't use it to feel like the best version of me, I use it so that I can feel like me. Trichotillomania makes you feel so other- despite fully coming to terms with the fact that I will probably have this for life, I still find myself daydreaming and wondering what my life would be like without trich...what I would look like, how I would feel, how I would be as a person. The effect that it has on you is so profound, you almost wonder whether it has stopped you from being you.

Using make-up to cover up the gaps and baldness that I feel so self-conscious about (to the point where I wouldn't leave the house showing them) frees me of practical constraints- I can go outside and carry on doing whatever I've got to do. But it also frees me emotionally. When I have make-up on, I hate myself less when I look in the mirror; yes, you might be able to tell that I'm wearing false lashes, but I prefer that to seeing bald eyelids. I feel more normal; I can walk down the street without people giving funny look (or being paranoid that they are). I feel confident; I hide as much as I can when my baldness is on show, almost uncomfortable in my own body, and hiding it with make-up makes me feel pretty (or as pretty as possible, ha).

Even if the feelings re-appear when you wipe the beauty products away, they disappeared for a short while- long enough for me to feel better about myself. When I first discovered false lashes it was like a whole new lease of life. Make-up can change others' perception of you, but most importantly for trichotillomania it can change your perception of yourself. And when those feelings are usually mostly negative, make-up (even if not for long) gives me that break from self-hatred that my mind needs and brings a little much-needed positivity to my life and mental health!

What does make-up mean to you?

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