Jane Pike reflects on her constantly-evolving relationship
T-zone meant one of two things when I was a teenager. It was
either: a) an intersection that involved stopping your car to
look left and right or b) an unfortunate shiny space that
existed below the hairline but above the chin, and somewhere
in between the cheeks.
I grew to resent the term with a similar loathing to the
problem area itself. As though singled out by the big man in
the sky, I found it personally offensive. I mean it seemed
punishment enough that I had to watch Shane marry Charlene
alone in the living room with a blotting pad stuck across my
nose. What more did I have to do?
And as for Dirty Dancing? Puh. Leave that to the
experts. I was never going to have the time of my life with
skin like this.
Pigeon-holed and backed into a corner, I did what any other
self-respecting, overtly hormonal teenage girl with mood
control issues does. I invested heavily in make-up. Seeing
the light, I snatched at multiple bottles of foundation,
stockpiled wads of dulling powder and invested in
niche-market blotting pads.
Rejecting the notorious ‘‘oversleeping'' reputations of my
teenage colleagues, I rose early, blotchy-skinned, blurry
eyed, and strutted to the bathroom. Barefooted on the mat, I
peered critically at my features - just far enough away that
I wasn't cross-eyed, but close enough to be suitably
Only satisfied after making things noticeably worse by poking
and squeezing the various protrusions ejecting from my face,
I then grappled fervently at my over-loved, stained make-up
bag and squeezed whatever my fingers came into contact with
directly on my person.
Now, my momentary fascination with my pre-world facing
programme at this time of my life has actually very little to
do with the fact that I actually wore makeup. No. The
intention here I understand. The real fascination -
the one that now causes my nose to wrinkle up, my lips to
purse and my head to slowly shake in abject horror - is that
whilst I thought bad skin was the problem, the real problem
was the fact I was sadly legally blind.
You heard me.
Whilst browsing the aisles full of multi-generational
cosmetics, methylated-spirited cleansing wipes and
skin-stripping solutions, it appears I bypassed the stands
housing products suitable for my albino-like complexion, and
instead honed in on those specifically concocted for an
African-American recently returned from Bali.
Visually confused and without support, I then proceeded to
select a six-shades-lighter, concrete-based powder, which
I obviously thought matched my previous selection nicely.
And this is not the worst of it.
Once at home and confronted with a mirror, further atrocities
resulted. I forgot any part of my body existed other than my
face. Self-created and unregulated, photographic evidence
suggests that time and time again, I created an orange line
similar to the Berlin Wall that divided my head from the chin
up from the rest of my body, neck down.
And then I applied the powder. Emerging from the bathroom
like an alopecia patient who had been locked in the solarium,
my parents did nothing to alert me to the dire situation. A
fine line between unconditional love and child abuse, I then
proceeded to walk around in public day in day out, failed by
family members, friends and my own retinas.
The situation eventually outgrown, one can only muse as to
the lost friendships, job interviews and random teenage party
pashes that had been prevented by this solid fluoro line. And
in those quiet moments of reflection, all that is left is to
be enormously grateful that it was far too early for
Years passed, and a complicated, love-hate relationship with
make-up continued. There were the carefree years - the years
of even oil production and scanty product application, save a
lick of mascara here and there to prove I actually had
The glamour years, of hot red lips and devil-may-care smoky
eyes - single, footloose and fancy free.
And naturally, now, the baby years - the hours of constant
feeding and frantic days, when the nights become a blur of
awakening so frequent you cannot tell if you just woke up or
have actually been asleep.
And it is in these years that a real appreciation, a
ripening, sensual, passionate love with make-up has once
Now evenly complexioned, my skin heaves with constant, gentle
yearning for sleep that sighs out of my
no-time-to-moisturise pores and the darkened bits under my
So, on one day a week, usually a Wednesday, when I leave the
confines of my home and venture into the big city for a day
of delights filled with grocery shopping and a random sneaky
latte consumed at arm's length whilst on the run, I prostrate
before the goddess of make-up for the gifts she bestows and
thank god I am not a heterosexual man who doesn't have such
wares at his disposal.
Now aware of such terms such as ‘‘suitable colour'' and
‘‘blending'', I caress my little tub of mineral foundation,
laugh cheekily alongside my mascara, and pout merrily at the
mirror along with my lipstick. For I now know, although our
relationship has been troubled in the past, my little blue
bag full of random potions is just trying to be my friend.
So as I bump into an acquaintance . . .
‘‘Hi Jane! Wow, you look great, things are going well?''
‘‘Oh yes, it's easy. Sleep schmeep!'' (Cue frivolous,
. . .I know that I have you, makeup to thank.
Side by side, we march forward.
Let's get through this together.
- - Purakaunui writer Jane Pike is addicted to fashion,
being a mum and not taking herself too seriously.