Plus Sized And Allergic At The Mall (Or Why Many “Shoulds” Are Choices In Disguise)

A few weeks ago, I found myself at the Queens Center Mall, killing time before my chiropractor appointment.*

There isn’t all that much for me in this mall. There are no plus sized stores at all, other than the plus size departments in Macy’s and JCPenney’s, and the tiny plus sized area at Forever 21.**

I eventually wended my way over to the Bare Escentuals store and decided to check out their products and get a makeover.

The Dangers Of Trying To Be “Normal”
But here’s the rub: I’m allergic to a lot of makeup. Makeup has never sent me to asthmatic rattles that last a week (cats, you know who you are) or near-death experiences at dude ranches (horses, I’m looking at you), but makeup has been known to puff up my eyelids til they looked like they would burst, and make my skin break out horribly.***

Exhibit A
Golda applying make-up with a large brush. She has cotton stuffed in her nostrils to keep from inhaling any powder.
This is how I apply mineral makeup if I don’t want to sneeze it off. (Image by Golda Poretsky.)

My makeup routine for the last umpteen years has been eyeliner, clear mascara on my eyebrows****, and a little liquid makeup to cover anything wonky. Maybe lipgloss and/or mascara if I’m feeling like doing it up. But lately, I’ve been desiring more of a “grown up” makeup routine, and I’ve really wanted some eyeshadow that wouldn’t create undue eyelid agony.*****

I had my makeup done, and it felt okay. My eyes felt pretty normal. I left there feeling pretty good, and I had a Macy’s gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so I went over to Macy’s and tried on some clothes (Exhibit B). I kept looking at my eyes in the mirror, looking for signs of puffiness or itchiness. No signs appeared.

I went back to the Bare Escentuals store and got their basic foundation kit, reserving judgment on the eyeshadow and some other items until the following day.

Shopping And “Shoulds”

I ended up not getting their eyeshadow, because my eyes did feel very weird the next morning, despite careful makeup removal.******

But here’s the larger issue, and the reason I’m bringing up buying makeup at the mall. I’ve been feeling like I should have more of a makeup routine. I’m in my mid-30s, and I feel on some level that there are things I should be doing. I should be better with makeup and use it more. I’m supposed to be using moisturizer on a regular basis. I’m supposed to know what to do with eyeshadow and wear it well.*******

You’re probably thinking, “But Golda, you of all people are not supposed to worry about what you ‘should be doing’ and doing what everyone else does! Didn’t you write blog posts on giving up the dream of being thin and letting go of the ‘have to’s and fitting out rather than fitting in?! What’s all this about?”

You, blog reader, are so right! I’ve spent a lot of time working on my thinking about all of the things I’m supposed to do and be. If I really was all of the things society tells me to be, I’d be married and have kids and still be practicing law and I’d be thin.

Exhibit B
Golda taking a self-portrait in the dressing room mirror at Macy's
My made-up face looks suspiciously like my non-made-up face. (Image by Golda Poretsky.)

I’m happy to tell you that I walked around that mall that day not feeling bad about my body because I couldn’t fit into the clothes at nearly every clothing store. I didn’t even think about it, except to think that there was something wrong with the stores, not with my body. The makeup thing is just a red herring!

Changing “Shoulds” Into Choices

I think it’s important to remember that most of our “shoulds” are really choices in disguise. A really small example of this is that I have found that I really like wearing mineral makeup, but it makes me sneeze if I don’t put cotton balls in my nose (Exhibit A). It is rather ridiculous that I have to do this, and there may be a point where the cotton ball thing feels ridiculous enough that I make a different choice to go back to wearing less makeup (or finding a liquid I like better or whatever).

Similarly, how much we decide to fit in or fit out should be recognized as a choice too. Even if you have certain requirements (like a dress code for your job) you often can do more within the confines of those restrictions than you realize. And I find that really embracing things about you that others might find “weird” is often the key to getting more acceptance or finding that acceptance matters less than you originally thought.

Dieting fits into this category too. If you’re dieting to fit in better (and I think that dieting is often about this) realize that this is actually a choice, not a requirement. In other words, you can think about dieting and whether the benefits, if any, outweigh the negatives. Maybe, right now, it’s a bargain you’re willing to make. And that’s okay, because it’s your choice. But if the benefits aren’t stacking up, you can make the choice not to diet.

What “shoulds” of yours may be choices in disguise? Let me know in the comments section below!

*My chiropractor’s office is right next to the mall. It calls to me every time I get adjusted!
**Can we talk about Forever 21? I mean, their 3x is like a 20, am I right?
***This blog post is rated R due to the graphic nature of its allergy stories.
****This is a tip I learned from Sassy Magazine circa 1991 – it holds your eyebrows in place!
*****I know. You now know more about my makeup buying habits than you could possibly want to know. I’m getting to the point, I swear!
******Undue Eyelid Agony is an excellent band name.
*******Those of you who are my Facebook friends know that I googled “Rachel Maddow makeup tutorial” last Tuesday. :)

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight.  Registration is now open for her group program, The Big Beautiful Goddess Academy. Click here for details!

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