If you haven’t seen Lili’s bookish make-up looks, you are missing out. I’m so excited to welcome her to Shattering Stigmas to discuss how her make-up looks helped her mental health this year. It’s such a helpful reminder that self love and self care can come in the most unexpected of places sometimes. You can find Lili online on Twitter and her blog. She is also the co-host of the Backlist Bookworms, an online book club of backlist books.
At the beginning of this year, I never thought I’d be sitting down in front of my bookcase doing a makeup live on Instagram. I never even thought I’d really be wearing bright blue, pastel pink, or royal purple. Growing up, I didn’t think I could be beautiful. Lacking representation of Asian faces in the media and as models for makeup or in magazine spreads, I just wasn’t used to seeing a face that looked like mine in that context. I wasn’t even used to seeing makeup on Asian faces that weren’t actively trying to be Asian makeup.
Even so, I fell into a love of makeup a few years ago. I was drawn to the community of passion, creativity, and excitement – much like the book community. I began to find more Asian beauty gurus and take the time to figure out a way for the makeup looks to work on my hooded eyelids. While it took me a while to start my makeup journey, soon I was rocking cat eyes and basic eyeshadow. But colors? Cut creases? Anything ‘bolder’ was something that I just was convinced would never work on me. And then a pandemic began. 2019 was one of the lowest years of my life. I struggled finding myself and with my mental health, finding it hard to get out of bed some days, or developing a habit of grinding my teeth I was so stressed and anxious. I figured 2020 couldn’t get any worse, that 2020 was the year things would turn around.
Well March 2020 proved me more wrong than I could ever have predicted. My stress levels during a pandemic sky rocketed as my hands began cracking from hand washing and my worries for my parents overwhelmed my dreams. In addition, all the things that were plaguing me in 2019, reared their heads because they didn’t care it was a pandemic.
But being forced to spend more time in my house, and with less places to go, gave me more time. Yes, more time to dwell on my mental health. I don’t even remember the day that I decided to play with makeup, but I sat down and decided to use that time, and new palette, and just have some fun. What better inspiration could a book cover be? That time that I carved out, listening to music or just taking my time, firmly planting my feet in a moment, meant that choking feeling I had in my throat receded a little. Having had a blissful moment of peace, I decided to continue doing these makeup looks and lives. I decided to do a live once a week until the pandemic was over and while I initially thought that would take less time, I’ve found a sense of routine amongst this chaos in sticking to that promise.
For me, makeup has always been a radical expression. Whether it started off trying to find a way to see myself as beautiful, in a world that I felt like didn’t represent me, or what I try to do nowadays, which is break every fashion and beauty rule I’ve ever been told. Wear every color of eyeshadow on my eye, challenge myself to try that editorial look I saw, experiment with new color combinations, and, in general, change the way I see myself. During the pandemic, it’s turned into an act of self-care. Of prioritizing myself for those moments. Of having space to interact with people who love books and makeup, who want to talk about skincare tips and lipstick products. Of realizing it’s okay to not have to be productive, to not have to maximize each moment. Of being able to see myself in color. My decision to keep these going is a reminder to myself to keep focusing on that moment, of carving out spaces of peace in my day. It’s a time where the stress and insecurities and fears are kept at bay. A few slivers of time where I get to unleash my creativity, where mistakes are allowed, and where I get to look myself in the mirror. To remind myself I’m living in this current moment to the next, taking a few moments for joy and expression, that I’m still here.