My partner and I share a lot of things, but our love of makeup is one of my personal favorites. Considering their fascination with cosmetics and my extensive knowledge on the subject (thanks to being a beauty blogger and having been raised as a woman), it was clear early on that we were a match made in beauty-maven-heaven. We're also both genderqueer, a fact that heavily influences the way we interpret and utilize beauty in our day to day lives. For me, doing beauty in a way that is contrary to what I was raised to believe was typically feminine, and finding beauty expressions and shades that align more with my gender neutral existence, is of crucial importance. For Skylar, I believe their routine is about owning their femininity, and coming closer to the truest and most colorful version of themselves. Through these separate journeys, we both seek out a common goal: To find empowerment and liberation in the makeup that we wear.
One of the very first times that we hung out, I helped Skylar wax their legs, an endeavor that proved to be long and grueling for us rookies, but also full of laughs and discoveries — like the fact that you should wax hair against the grain. I also learned that Skylar's butt looks terribly cute in tight underwear. That day really set the precedent for the rest of our relationship, which would always involve exploring our genders, sharing in beauty rituals, and sometimes doing both at once.
To this day, some of our favorite activities to do as a couple include wearing sheet masks, painting each other's nails, and shopping for new lipstick. But there's nothing we love more than getting dressed up for a fancy night on the town together, and showing off our latest makeup accomplishments (as of late, we've been going for an alien chic look, complete with galactic lipstick and electric green sparkly liner). Like me, there is nothing that gives Skylar more confidence than a bold lip and some flawlessly-applied liquid liner. So any excuse that we can come up with to rock full faces makeup, like a fancy impromptu dinner or an alien-themed school dance, are enthusiastically taken advantage of.
But performing beauty together goes beyond a mutual love for lipstick and eyeliner, and straight into issues of identity. For us, and for many gender nonconforming and trans people, beauty and presentation can be more political and gender-based than anything else.
Doing our makeup together (and even separately), is at least in part a political act. It's us saying, "I can be assigned male at birth, but still own femininity and wear makeup," or "I can reflect gender neutrality in my makeup, and reject certain beauty standards," or even, "With a swipe of this lipstick, I am free." Our makeup presentation helps us shape our genders together, and provides another way for us to support one another's identities.
I love doing people's makeup nearly as much as I love doing my own. But it feels especially magical when I do Skylar's. Doing their makeup feels like supporting and acknowledging their gender identity — a much needed token in a world that often suggests to people AMAB that they aren't allowed to own femininity and that the makeup that they wear isn't truly theirs. Sharing beauty with my partner gives me yet another way to express my love towards them, as well as the pride that I feel when they bravely rock makeup and a dress in public despite the lingering stares that regularly follow.
When I gave Skylar a red lipstick that I wasn't using anymore, it was one of the first tubes that they had ever personally owned. This gift was more than the recycling of unwanted beauty products or the sharing of makeup with a dear friend. It was a token of my unlimited support of their gender identity, and acknowledgment that I saw and valued their femininity.
Since then, Skylar's makeup collection has grown considerably, and now includes purple MAC lipstick, gold eyeshadow, and plenty of glitter. I feel so proud when they show me their expanding arsenal, stored in an ironically masculine toolbox lined with tissue paper.
Sharing beauty with those close to you in the hopes of imparting the same magical powers that makeup tends to give me is something I truly value. There are plenty of people who I pretentiously believe I'm responsible for enlightening regarding the powers of beauty. But no experience has been more gratifying than sharing beauty with my partner.
They're not only equally empowered by and excited about cosmetics, but they use makeup as a tool for expressing their identity and to take one step closer toward liberation: Liberation from societal expectations and liberation from the gender binary. In a way, I am the person who showed Skylar a lot of things about makeup and beauty that they weren't familiar with prior to our relationship. And I am proud of that — of having shared the potential radicalness of makeup with them. Through our shared beauty routines, we help one another be brave in our presentation and enthusiastically create more and more queer magic together.
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Images: Meg Zulch