The Full Monty Girl

I’ve got a confession to make, and there’s no point mincing words about it.

The truth is… I’m a full monty girl.

Not in the “middle-aged Scottish male stripper” way, but in the cosmetic sense.

Make-up. War-paint. Slap. “Putting on your face” as my Nan would have said.

A woman’s attitude towards using cosmetics to highlight or hide various features on their face is as individual as she is.

Some women do the full monty every day, and would never contemplate being seen without it. Others will rarely use it, maybe applying the barest flicker of mascara for a special occasion.

Still more will be somewhere in between the two extremes, muddling along in a way that is comfortable for them.

Whether they choose to wear a little or a lot, the thing that I find fascinating is that most women will have developed their own set of specific “rules” that define in what situations they will wear make-up, what types of make-up they will wear and even how they will apply it.

As I mentioned earlier I lean towards the full monty end of the spectrum, but my attitudes toward make-up are both complicated and ingrained.

They are so much a part of my cultural frame of reference that trying to pin them down is like trying to catch beauty in a butterfly net.

Me after work. Make-up still pretty much in place. Yes I did instagram it, but that's because I have a spot between my eyes that makes me look like I'm impersonating Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. !

Me after work. Make-up still pretty much in place. Yes I did instagram it, but that’s because I have a spot between my eyes that makes me look like I’m impersonating Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. !

So why have I decided to muddy up the waters of my consciousness to try and articulate my attitudes towards make-up?

My inspiration is none other than the latest viral sensation, Dustin Hoffman’s interview about preparing to play the role of Dorothy Michaels in the seventies classic movie Tootsie.

It’s not Dustin’s rather melodramatic lament about all the interesting women he never got to know because he was too chasing model-slash-actresses.

No the part that rang starkly true for me occurs at 1.53 of the clip.

It’s the part where Dustin – with the arrogance and naivety of someone to whom it has never occurred that they might NOT be – demands of the studio make-up artists, “You’ve got me looking like woman. Now make me a BEAUTIFUL woman.”

And the make-up artist delivers the same crushing verdict that a million women have looked in the mirror and pronounced upon themselves…

“This is as good as it gets”

I know how Dustin felt. The feeling of wanting to do the best with the resources at my disposal is definitely part of the reason I wear make-up.

But it’s not the full story. For me to examine how I became a full monty girl we need to wind back the clock a good 30 years at least.

We need to start with my mother.

Some of my earliest memories of my mother involve me watching her put on make-up. Hanging around in the bathroom in the way that 3-4 years olds do, probably just chatting and getting under her feet while she was getting ready to take us to the shops.

Watching her intricate movements with tiny, obscure looking instruments. Smelling the perfumed scents of creams and lotions. Admiring the bright colours bringing out the sparkle in her eyes and the bloom in her cheeks.

With her thick red hair and glamorous makeup my mother was a “pop” of colour against the backdrop of suburban Perth in the late 70’s.

To this day she is the only woman I know who can wear a tracksuit and make it look stylish.

My Mum - front and centre. Rising above the fashion indignities of the early 90's LIKE A BOSS!

My Mum – front and centre. Rising above the fashion indignities of the early 90’s LIKE A BOSS!


So for me make-up has always symbolized femininity.

From the mysterious rituals and accouterments to the seemingly miraculous transformation they effected – these things would be my inheritance once I grew up and crossed the threshold into woman-hood.

However in reality this inheritance has been something of a double edged sword. The following two scenarios illustrate this better than any theoretical explanation I can offer…

Scenario 1

I attend a work function in northern NSW and which finishes late enough for me to stay in a hotel for the night rather than drive home. The next morning I wake up tired from some fairly intense networking the previous night.

After a shower I contemplate my make-up bag and think “fuck it, can’t be bothered”. So I pack and head to the buffet for breakfast, where I am completely unperturbed about being seen without make-up.

It’s not until I’m on the way home that I encounter a problem.

I realise that I will be passing the home of a fellow blogger who I have become good friends with over the last few months. I am sans children and I think excitedly “I should call her! I could pick her up and we could go for coffee! How utterly RAD”.

And then it hits me. I have no make-up on. And my plans for a surprise visit crumble as quickly as they had risen.

No matter how much my logical mind pleads for sanity my sub-conscious mind will not give in. The internal dialogue goes something like this…

“We don’t meet new people without our make-up on. We have never met this person in real life, but we like them very much and care what they think. Surely we don’t want to meet them looking less than our best?”

The end result? I don’t call, we don’t meet and I am disappointed with myself for the rest of the day.

Scenario 2

I work full time and always try to be in early as insurance against those times when I need to exit early due to one of the three S’s – sickness, sport or school related activities.

So I get up before the boys and Brook and start the process of getting myself ready for work. I start to put on my make-up, and instantly the process of metamorphosis commences.

Outwardly I begin the rituals of smoothing, blending and painting, that are now so habitual I almost don’t need to think about them. Putting on my “professional face” so that my external appearance reflects the confidence and conviction I feel inside.

But the internal metamorphosis is just as important. You see I rarely wear make-up on the weekends when I am around the house, cleaning and cooking and nagging and mothering. So for me the process of putting on make-up is a crucial part of changing gears between m two worlds – the domestic and the professional.

So that’s my analysis on why I’m (mostly) a full monty girl, but what I’d really like is to hear from YOU!

I am sure that for some women their relationship with make-up is nowhere near as complex mine, and I would really love to hear more about this perspective. On the other hand there are also probably some women who would think that my version of the full monty is is pretty tame and I’d love to hear more about how that works too.

Linking up with The Lounge with a very dodgy association to the theme of favourite photos. This post does HAVE photos in it after all 😉


35 comments on “The Full Monty Girl

  1. Katyberry says:

    I’m much closer to the bare-faced than full-faced end of the spectrum, with foundation being the least likely makeup I would apply. I play around with BB cream but thus usually only lasts a week or so of dedicated use before I run out if time and energy for it. My must-have these days is my eyebrow pencil. It basically looks like I don’t have eyebrows is I don’t pencil them in. Family and friends would be so used to seeing me like that that I don’t mind, but I HATE it at work or going out if I don’t have eyebrows.
    My girls love makeup, and are always stealing my lip glosses, but they don’t see me putting it on that often, because with the morning rush out the door, makeup is something I usually do at work when I arrive.
    Glad to see you got your blog up!!!

    • Rachel says:

      That’s really interesting Katrina because my eyebrows are basically the only thing on my face I DON’T mess with. It goes to show that even at the barefaced end of the spectrum most women have something that they do. That’s part of why I find this subject so interesting. I bet if I met you I wouldn’t even notice your eyebrows!

  2. Mumabulous says:

    I need to take a leaf out of your book and make a little more effort. The thing is I dont enjoy the process of actually putting the makeup on. I would never let being bared faced stop me from meeting up with a friend.

    • Rachel says:

      Aahh see that is the difference – I actually find the process quite calming and almost meditative. And maybe I just take a leaf out of your book and be a little braver 🙂

  3. Me says:

    As a rule, I won’t leave the house without foundation and lipstick. If I am feeling like I need a little help, I flick the mascara wand through my lashes and do a half line of eye-liner. If we are going out to dinner / show / meet people (bloggers for the first time) – I will generally put on eye-shadow and blush as well. I used to ‘do ‘ my face every day for work – now, nobody here wears make-up so foundation and lipstick it is !
    I never wear make-up at home !
    Have the best day !

    • Rachel says:

      I like the foundation/lipstick combo for a the weekends if I’m going out. It’s quick and easy but makes you feel a bit less “naked” when you’re out and about 🙂

  4. Kevin says:

    shower. shave. teeth. product. done.

  5. I’m always amazed at how ‘high maintenance’ women do it (not saying you are high maintenance). I put makeup on for work, but it is a bit of a blind ritual and I will put basic make-up on going out normally if I feel like it. I actually quite enjoy putting ‘proper’ make-up on rare dress-up occasions at night, but I have hardly any product in my cache. For me yoga and meditation make for the best make-up, hopefully giving you a fresh relaxed face and a smile. (Having turned 45 yesterday I may review this though!).

  6. Clair says:

    I can remember my mum, mid-1980s putting on red ‘lippy’ and blow drying flicky bits into the side of her hair, then carefully hair spraying it all into place. My daughter now watches me, scrunching my curls with gel, applying my neutral tone lip gloss. She, just like I did, requests her hair be blow dried too and some powder put on her cheeks.

    • Rachel says:

      Awww cute! There’s not many occasions when I feel I missed something by not having a little girl but that did it. Must be lovely having mummy-daughter times like that 🙂

      • Clair says:

        Aww I’m sorry! I do enjoy it though, it’s fun until she wants to smear toothpaste on her face. She’s just turned 2, so I forgive her cosmetic ignorance!

  7. I need to make more effort with make-up, I really do. I buy it, because I like the idea that it can somehow magically make me look better, but then it just sits in my make-up box, unused. If I’m making an effort I’ll slap a bit on, but I just cannot get the hang of foundation, can never blend it properly and I just end up looking unwashed. Mascara always smudges, no matter what kid I buy, because I have allergies and always forget about the mascara and rub my eyes – so then I look like an unwashed panda, not a good look!

    • Rachel says:

      I’m with you on buying into the idea that one magical product can somehow make you look amazing! I haven’t tried it myself (yet) but apparently this BB cream stuff is a great alternative to foundation. We should both give it a whirl and compare notes!

      • Oculus Mundi says:

        Not all BB creams are created equal. The only one I have tried that I really like so far is the Loreal one. It comes out white, and goes on really matt and doesn’t look like you have anything much on at all, except suddenly your skin looks heaps better. I am sold on it, completely.

  8. Oculus Mundi says:

    Your mum is gorgeous in that photo.

    My mother basically never wore make up. I was always trying to “do her up”. Sometimes she would submit to it. I think I do recall her putting foundation on a couple of times, when I was really young and occasionally she would run a lipstick over her mouth if going to the Bowling Club. She also had a go at other women her age and older who wore make up (my mother, having a go at someone, quelle surprise!), but 80s Scottish girls wore make up, so I quickly learned from my peers and wore ALL the make up 🙂

    Sometimes lip gloss too. Can I just be all girly for a moment and say the De Loreal BB cream is really good, I have tried a few brands and they are mostly shite and a lot like foundation, which I am trying to avoid, the BB Cream actually does look really natural and feel really light and just sort of airbrushes your skin a bit.

    I usually wear macara, eyeliner and BB cream when i go out. Sometimes lipgloss. It takes me approx 2 mins to apply, I certainly couldn’t be arsed spending more than a couple of minutes a couple of times a day, but those 120 seconds make a big difference to my confidence for the day. The thing is, I really do look quite a bit better with mascara and eyeliner on (and the BB is very kind to ageing skin) – I’ve seen photos of me both ways. So why wouldn’t I want to look more attractive when it takes so little effort?

    I envy anybody who genuinely doesn’t care about make up. That’s not sarcasm!

    I don’t know if it would have stopped me from meeting someone new, but I understand why you might feel that way. First impressions do last, and it is nice if they get us at our best, first time around 🙂

    • Oculus Mundi says:

      Oh, and you are lovely too, Instagram or not, I suspect you would be lovely in any photo.

    • Oculus Mundi says:

      Just noticed certain parts of this comment make no sense. Sometimes this fucking cursor jumps around, not sure if it was that. But, as you know I make no sense a great deal of the time, so I am sure you won’t bat an eyelid 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      Yes, yes, yes to the eyeliner and mascara! I look so tired and BLAND without them. And you hit the nail on the head- I look better WITH a little help and it makes a massive difference to how I feel. So why wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t necessarily care about meeting someone I didn’t really know without me face on but the person on questions was actually Sarah Slapdash! And since I like her I DO care what she thinks and wanted the first impression to be a good one.

      Thnaks Alison = it’s nice to be understood x

  9. I’m in the inbetween group. My mum doesn’t wear make up and so I kind of fumble through, watching youtube videos and teaching myself along the way. Paul’s DIL is on the other end of the spectrum and even wears make up when we go to the beach which I don’t understand because it all washes off anyway…

    • Rachel says:

      Make-up at the beach is awful – she can’t possibly have a good time melting and smudging all over the place. I always forget you are a child of Gen Y – I would have LOVED YouTube for makeup tutorials as a teenager.

      PS You looked lovely in that picture you posted on FB not long ago when you were going out for tea xx

      • It’s funny you say that, I showed Paul the photo and he asked who it was! He said it doesn’t look like me at all (I kind of agree, my chin isn’t quite that chiseled.) and not like he remembered how I looked. It’s a pity though that Youtube still can’t teach me how to put eyeliner on! I always end up poking myself in the eye.

  10. Kim says:

    Fab post, and I fall into the complex-relationship category also. For me, my face is about putting on a type of ‘armour’ to go out in the world. I feel a bit vulnerable and naked without (and, to be honest, ugly. Mothers. Dammit, and I also have delightful middle-aged pimples and redness.) I have a ‘full’ for night, or bad days, and a ‘half’, for rush days. The half involves BB cream, coverup, bronzer and mascara, while the full also has eyeliner, eyeshadow, blusher, and foundation. My eyes make me ‘dressed’. Funny stuff, makeup. My DH hates it.

    • Rachel says:

      Agreed Kim – armour is exactly what it is. Protecting the vulnerable squishy bits beneath. And don’t talk to me about middle-aged pimples – even with the instagram you can STILL see the massive one right between my eyes! So charming – not. I’ll leave my comments about your DH for another forum;)

  11. I love my makeup. I have very fair skin and need to wear coverage as people actually ask me if I am feeling okay! Seriously! To me it’s no different to putting on my clothing and consider it as such.

    • Rachel says:

      Oh yes it’s lovely when you I venture out without make-up and everyone asks “Are you ok? You look really tired. Are you sick?”. I have dark hair but like you I have very fair skin so my features just wash away without a little boost. That’s how it feels to me anyway!

  12. alex says:

    I’m not exactly in prime position to comment on make-up, as a recent meme states… “I don’t have to put on a ‘face’, as long as my nutsack isn’t showing, I’m pretty much golden” (please feel free to delete!) but I wanted to comment because your line, “Rising above the fashion indignities of the early 90â€ēs LIKE A BOSS!” absolutely cracked me up! Well played!

    • Rachel says:

      Thanks Alex – clearly you have remember exactly how undignified the fashions of the early nineties really were!

      And as for your use of the term “nutsack”? I have three boys aged 5, 8 & 10 and quite frankly I struggle to have a conversation with them that DOESN’T involve nutsacks, butt-cracks and all manner of other delightful expressions. You’re all good here 🙂

  13. Kimberley says:

    I wear it for work and if I’m going out on the town, I smack on a bit of eye shadow and mascara for every day if I’m going out in public, and that’s about it. To be honest, it’s a recent-ish thing. I was never really into wearing makeup – I didn’t understand it or how to put it on properly.

    When I was at school I got taken aside by a couple of girls in the grade below me who were going to “teach me” how to put on makeup as I never wore any. I told them to bugger off and I was fine just the way I was, thanks.

    Even now, I don’t pack it on – it’s pretty subtle. But that’s just me. I admire women who can do it right every day because they look amazeballs, but it’s never been my thing.

    BTW, you look gorgeous with your full montied face! Kx

  14. You know I’m totally becoming a person who puts on foundation – light stuff – whenever I go out, I reckon it makes me look 4 years younger, less haggered and tired!
    I’m useless at applying it – but I think it can accentuate good parts of a face. I’m totally go to put more paint on my face as I grow!
    Em xx

  15. WTF how did I not read your post? Sorry! Ugh.
    Anyway as well you know by now I am preeeetttty much the full monty.
    I definitely wear foundation or BB cream, powder and lipstick every day. I’m a little hit and miss with the ole eye makeup but god I’m always glad when I make the effort because it makes such a difference!
    Hey was it me you were going to call in on??? Bummer dude.
    I bloody love wearing makeup and would never want to be a bloke because boorrriing! Slap on some slap and you feel twenty times better than if you don’t. Mum is a huge makeup wearer. All the women in me fam are.
    Huzzah for slap!

    • Rachel says:

      Yes it was! You have totally rumbled me. But I am still glad our first meeting was when I was looking and feeling good about myself. God I was nervous enough anyway! So vive la slap for the both of us. The three of us can all fight for bathroom space when Kim visits xx

  16. robomum says:

    My make-up goes on in the car on the way to work. It’s sad.
    I love make-up but hardly ever get the chance to wear it properly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s