It all started when the founder of a website, who I had just recently met, cc’ed me on an e-mail correspondence with his assistant. He was trying to introduce us and in doing so, made the mistake of not deleting theirprevious conversation thread. I scrolled down and noticed that he’d confirmed to her that I was “verrrrrrrry funny. Smart, too.” This made me feel wonderful. But as I kept reading, there it was.
“She is ugly as fuck tho. Truly a man repeller.”
My initial reaction was to laugh — chiefly because it seemed incredibly unusual if not highly offensive that he would describe a fellow woman to his female assistant as “ugly as fuck.”
But then I got emotional. Ugly as fuck? Really? And that was the chaser for a descriptive clause that pegged me not just smart but funny, which had to mean looking at my face for the course of our 30 minute conversation was as painful as say, getting a colonoscopy without the preliminary anesthesia.
A few months prior to this I noticed that the details of my makeup regimen (or lack thereof) had become something of a hot topic on the Man Repeller Instagram feed. I chalked up the cause of conversation to either people taking notice of the fact that I don’t wear very much makeup or to my taking notice of their having taken notice.
The comments sometimes appear as compound questions like, “you could be cute but why don’t you wear makeup?” Other times they’re just plain insulting. As recently as last week, I’ve been called an ugly whore (not so far off from “as fuck”) which seems really inconsistent with the Man Repeller ethos seeing as we don’t typically sell bodies — we sell ideas.
But have I started to notice the criticism because of that website founder? And what has that awareness elicited intrinsically?
It occurred to me last month when I was laying in bed beside my mother in a hotel room in Milan, trolling my own comment feed and half lamenting, half giggling about the abundance of distraught comments over the state of my face that maybe I should wear makeup. Something so simple that my mother said, so benign and innocent, so obvious, released a trigger in me.
“Makeup is meant to enhance the natural beauty of a woman, Leandra, so, really, why wouldn’t you use it?”
I contemplated her question for a moment but frankly, the answer is simple.
I’m not making a statement. I’m not trying to act like the most extreme, hyper-literal and violent version of a man repeller. If you read this site you know by now that Man Repelling is an attitude. It is a state of existence. It is not whether you do your hair or curl your lashes, or even what you wear. It is how you approach doing those things. Why you do those things, and perhaps most importantly, it is a love letter to individuality, which is something that manifests itself in plentifully different ways.
So the reason I don’t wear makeup is because I am lazy. And don’t get me wrong — I am as much a sucker for the newest “anti-aging miracle cream” as the next guy. Just because I don’t wear much makeup doesn’t mean I don’t believe in good skin. I want to know that if I don’t wash my face, I won’t tarnish my pillow. I don’t want to see the ingredients that constructed my previous night’s visage wiped off into a towel. I also read somewhere that if you sleep with mascara on your lashes they are 70% more likely to fall out so as far as I’m concerned, maintaining real lashes that aren’t quite as plump as they can be is ten times more compelling than having none at all.
More important than that though, I am comfortable with how I look. I don’t hate what I see when I look in the mirror. Even if legions of others don’t agree. I have accepted the reflection that reliably bounces back at me for its perks and its flaws. I understand that there are thick, dark circles under my eyes. I have grown to appreciate them. I have noticed that my nose grows a little hookier on a near-monthly basis. That’s fine. I know there are wrinkles ready to stake their claim as full time residents on my forehead any moment now. My dad has those, too, and I find that endearing.
My eyes will never be blue, my bone structure will never allow for you to mistake me for a Scandinavian model. I am who I am and even if that infers “ugly as fuck,” I think it’s, I don’t know, beautiful.