Sometimes I wake up in the morning and go to my mirror only to find that it looks as if I have been run over by a lorry and dragged through a bush backwards. Twice. When this happens it feels as if the person looking out from behind the skull should not be inside this suit of skin but somewhere else. Or, at least, it regrets its own image. Sometimes when somebody takes a picture of me I can't bear to look because I know that I will detest the outcome. I have never knowingly taken a magnificent photograph of myself. Only in crap quality and a heavy filter will it be okay. For some reason that makes a ginormous difference.
And so to fix the problem of my own physical loathing I reach beside my mirror into a small pouch filled with liquids and creams to disguise my original bodily mask. For a few years now my signature style with these coloured, cosmetic fluids has been to paint on dramatic, over done winged eyeliner so that the shape of my eye is changed and I always look like I'm about to go to a party. I've done it for so long now that when people say that they love how I've done it I wonder why; it's just a part of my face.
When this ridiculous eyeliner is wiped off at bedtime my face does change. It becomes plainer; boring. I don't like how small my eyes seem when they're not enclosed by big sweeping doses of black liquid. I don't like the way I really look.
It was about two years ago that I felt that this mask I put on my face each morning was a lie. Why was I pretending? Surely this is dishonest? I am not actually a girl who finds it enormously difficult to go out without any makeup on. I do not cement my face with foundation and powder, the eyeliner is mostly my sole cosmetic friend, but I feel much more confident when I appeal to this social construct and paint it on my skin.
But it was a lie, it is a lie, and not liking your face is pretty big deal - teen angst or not. So, in a weird act of self-exposure, when I feel that my face is not my own, or that I don't want to wear it, I buck it up and bear my naked visage to the world all day.
Sometimes the experiment doesn't work. I go into the toilets at school and realise what a terrible mistake I've made when the lighting highlights the bags under my eyes and my skin looks a little pasty. But the lighting's a lie, or I just need to accept reality and move on to something more pressing, because I must not hate my face.
Sometimes I go one step further and take a picture of my naked face to share with literally the whole world (if they wanted to look) just to prove to myself that I don't have to rely on the slightly corrupt idea of the cosmetic industry to make myself feel good. This actually works; I feel much more confident once I know that everyone else is accepting the way that I look so I must be doing the same.
Going a day, or a week, or a month without makeup is an extremely healthy thing to do. You are not lying to yourself, or covering up what is completely natural and lovely for the sake of a culture that can't bear to look at women's naked faces. And it means that when I do choose to put on makeup it is a fashion statement and not a signifier of my own low self esteem.
I will continue to teach myself to enjoy my own face because, for crying out loud, who taught me to hate the very skin I was born in?