So today, I’ve made a strange decision to depart from my strict rule of ‘makeup-only posting’ here on WordPress. Strange because I usually don’t like to deviate from convention or codes of conduct, especially if they are my own. But I suppose the fact that I HAVE decided to write about something far more personal is testament to the gravity of the situation that has compelled me to do this.
The topic still does have its sphere in makeup, however it’s to do with the fashion/beauty industry as a whole, and my experiences in it thus far.
Firstly, I just have to get this off my chest. The singular reason I am about to write what I am, is because today I feel that this blog is the ONLY space that I have a right to FREELY voice my opinions and am ENTITLED to speak my mind. I have come to realise that while everyone around me seems to espouse freedom of speech – especially in telling me what they feel/want or in giving their opinion – apparently that freedom ONLY applies to them, and not the recipient of their views, i.e. me. When I – rightfully – express myself, or my opinions of THEIR opinions…it’s apparently not ok. I don’t see how that’s fair. It’s downright hypocritical. So only others’ opinions can be right, valid and valued? I don’t have to agree, or I can…but I certainly can pay heed to what is said and proceed to respond with my opinion ANYWAY, can’t I? EXACTLY the way they simply went about expressing theirs?
Thing is, I’ve noticed that even if I do decide to voice my views, I am suddenly either disliked or shushed or advised to stay silent and take heed. I’m sorry, but why am I not allowed and ENTITLED to express how I feel about stuff just that way you did to me? I realise this is because I’ve always CHOSEN to be the one that gives in, say sorry, and just not be assertive because I always feel there are two ways to say anything and I’d just rather not be blunt or as opinionated as the other. It’s just not in my character to prove a point or make an ego boosting statement UNLESS I think it’s advice that may help or save the person from embarrassment (e.g. “you’ve got snot/a booger on your nostril; your lack of planning skills are affecting those around you”) or unless I really care alot about this person, often a close family member or dear friend.
But see, people seem to think they can (verbally) bully me only because I often make such decisions to stay silent and because I look and seem timid in action and speech.
I have refused to say a nasty word or two to anyone who has always felt their right to either be mean or honest with me. But years of doing that has made it habit for people to expect me to just listen. But if I have to defend myself, my speech or actions, then I bloody well will. When I do decide to say something, I think they feel surprised! “Omg Su is actually saying something”.. it is out of place for them to hear me ‘retaliate’ and thus they feel that I should really just not say anything cause I don’t know better. This really pisses me off. Even if I don’t know better, why can I NOT say anything? Even if I am wrong, I don’t get it, it’s my mouth, my opinion, and it’s not even a retaliation, its a defense! Even criminals in court are given their fair shot at explaining their actions and defending or explaining their actions. Killed someone? Yep, bludgeoned him/her to death because he/she cheated on me. You know, it doesn’t have to be morally right (once again, this is subjective) but everyone has a right to express themselves and YOU DON”T HAVE TO AGREE WITH IT! God. Just let me exercise my right the very way you did yours when you opened your mouth & told me what you felt! And if I listened to your views,. then please, repay the etiquette, be courteous and just listen to what I have to say too. Don’t have to agree, but just pay me the same courtesy I did to you! AND, oh my god, DO NOT tell me WHAT I CAN or CAN’T SAY in response to you! And please, do NOT tell me how to think or REACT to YOUR statement if I didn’t tell you the same. I will do as I please, thank you. I am entitled to MY REACTION too for heaven’s sake! It’s called a re-action for a reason.
Many many years ago I had repeated experiences when certain friends who would be consistently late and make me wait for ages for them…and they would hardly say a ‘sorry’ or they would mutter it offhandedly “sorry babe!” because they were so used to me saying nothing and me not expressing my anger. I would be seething inside but chose to say nothing because I never wanted to spoil the mood of our outing. So one day, I remember distinctly being late and informing them I would be, and when I arrived they were, interestingly, annoyed beyond belief. As an experiment, I refused to say sorry, but instead simply explained why I was late, to see their reaction. Unfairly enough, that person was bristling with anger that I was late and never apologised. The ONE time I was late, versus the many times they made me wait. Hmm. Funny how it’s not ok when its done to them, but I am supposed to accept it when done to me?
Argh. So anyway, having ranted, I just want to share a bit about my journey as a makeup artist and give a heads up to everyone there who is thinking of entering the makeup industry.
I’ve always done makeup as a side thing for about 9 years, but decided to do it as a full time vocation sometime last year. Since then, it was off to a rocky start. I won’t go into the details but let’s just say that in this world of ‘beauty’, promises get made, and while you go to great lengths to keep the ones you make, people either forget that fact or take them for granted, and worse, almost never fulfill their promises to you. Even if it doesn’t or will not cost them a CENT. When you do demand for what’s due, be prepared for the claws to come out, because some of these ‘celebrities’ do not like being challenged, embarrassed, or questioned, and that is the one and possibly only time they will go to great lengths to exact revenge. I use these words with particular choice, as that’s really what happened. Well, not to me, but to someone I love greatly. Yes, some of these people have gone so far as to attack my family/friends. You read it right, people not even directly related to the issue at hand, were made to lose their jobs or had their integrity questioned because these ‘beautiful’ celebrities/fashion insiders were THAT unprofessional.
I’ve always believed that if I stay true to myself, and my personality, and most importantly stay committed to the love of my work and strive to deliver the best, I can only expect the best results. it was a simple formula to me. Be earnest, sincere, dedicated, respectful, give above and beyond 150%, do my best, continuously improve myself and the rewards will eventually come. But naive old me, I should have realised that my conceptions of beauty and what the fashion industry views as ‘beautiful’ are starkly polarised and at odds with each other.
Credit due to you may not be given, even by established magazines. (Never seen that happen to a photographer yet.) Exchange offers (i.e. do someone’s makeup in return for a future paid gig) will be conveniently forgotten, or agreements to teach and exchange skills will be done only for the real underlying purposes of poaching and siphoning off free makeup ‘tutorials’ or makeovers. Invitations to join makeup teams will be extended sometimes for the sole purpose of gaining extra credit by riding on the expertise of another more experienced artist. Travel expenses are often not covered, they ‘forget’ that you live on the opposite side of the island relative to where your venue is, and forget that you often have a heavy 10-12 kg luggage sized trolley of makeup to lug around and so can’t really take a bus or mrt. (There has been an exception though: so far the one group of people I’ve had the most positive experiences with have been photographers themselves. They are the heroes of my journey so far.
Anyhow, the ONE thing you can always expect and count on as a makeup artist: Piecrust Promises.
Another thing I’ve learnt: Always put things in writing, in agreements, even if its via a simple text message. Seal them with official signatories, but never with a handshake or spoken words. Placing innate trust in someone who seems so nice and genuine will hardly work out for you. Be precise about your terms and conditions, and do not be afraid to state what will be unacceptable.
Oh, and if you can’t do the whole air kisses (‘muah muah’) thing (or like me, simply just don’t like it because it’s not your personality), and the whole ‘hi dahhhling, you look gaawwwwjus!’ routine, or if you can’t apple polish, then chances are people won’t remember you or your fabulous makeup skills, simply because someone else with better networking skills is out there kissing feet or schmoozing with the right people. In this industry, to be able to make it to the ‘top’, you have to be thick-skinned, shameless about self-promoting, be insincerely generous with your compliments, and supremely assertive and firm.
Given these criteria, God help me.
You know, the hardest thing about having made the decision to pursue makeup artistry as a profession HASN’T been what everyone around me seems to think it is. So many people have told me that they think the move from a stable 9-5 job to this is ‘courageous’, and ‘brave’ because the consequent financial instability is scary. No doubt, they are right about the money bit. But you know, that really hasn’t been the most challenging thing. Money can always be made somehow. And no, getting rejections as you build your business is hardly difficult too, as they serve to motivate rather than discourage.
What is difficult, is the ability to remain authentically true to yourself & your personality, all while you’re climbing this rocky ladder to makeup success. And not because you can get swept up in the ‘glamour’ (there is none, as many would otherwise think) or ‘schmoozing’ as I like to call it, but because being around such a superficial industry can change you & essentially necessitates a hardening of your personality in a bid to survive in this awful jungle of egos and fake friendships.
Oh, and the recurrent painful wrenching as your heart crumbles like a pie crust.