Inner vs Fake Beauty: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Fake

My name is Audra, and I’m a beauty addict.

Colouring my otherwise black hair blonde, pink and orange

I am what you may call, a fake beauty. I use the term beauty loosely – yes, we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that it is subjective. Yada yada yada.

As a consumer of beauty products and trends since I was a child (I had my first perm – a Barbie crimp to be more specific, when I was 10 – thanks to my mother who enjoyed taking me to the salon with her), I would like to think I have some authority on the subject of altering your appearance using cosmetic and hair products.

Coming from a mix parentage of Malay and Chinese, I have never been blessed with the Malay ‘ayu-ness‘, that certain je ne sais quoi of pure feminine sweetness that most of my friends in school were blessed with – having gone to a school in Kota Bharu, and later a university with predominantly Bumiputera students, I have perhaps always felt out of place and was never considered the pretty girl with lots of adoring fans.

When you don’t feel like the prettiest kid, you either opt to be a wallflower or you take your own path to express your oddities – what makes you, you.

So I started colouring my hair when I was in high school, often duping the Prefects by saying I covered my hair in tea and lemon juice and let it bleach naturally under the sun (they bought it), and managed to convince a very reputable hair salon to give me six chunks of highlights for RM50 after the PMR break – I felt like the coolest kid!

I was quite the tomboy in my dress sense, and only used makeup when I had competitions (ironically, I was a rhythmic gymnast for the state of Selangor). Like most teenagers, I had bad acne combined with eczema, and this just made me even more of an awkward adolescent.

This all changed one day in University. As I mentioned before, I was surrounded by a bevy of beauties who were the epitome of feminity – they would come in to class with a face full of makeup, hair done up in all sorts of fashion, dressed to the nines – often changing their handbags and shoes on a daily basis (something that was completely alien to me, the girl with a pair of sneakers), and would constantly be touching up their makeup after each class.

At first I rolled my eyes, and would coin them ‘gedik‘ and told myself I would never, ever end up like that. Who had time to apply makeup on a daily basis, at every other hour?

Then it happened, a Personality Development class that required us to groom ourselves in order to look ‘professional’. I did the bare minimum, some eyeshadow and a dash of lipstick until one of the beauties decided she would take it upon herself to do a makeover on me. I was reluctant, and with each layer she added on me I squirmed and felt disgusted with the muck that was being put on me. The gloss made my lips feel sticky and oily, my eyes felt dry with all the eyeshadow and Oh My God, let’s not talk about the tightlining. I was miserable.

But then, the moment that changed my life forever more – I looked into a mirror. And boy, was I gorgeous. My skin had never looked more flawless, the pop of pink on my cheeks warmed up my face, my eyes looked more alert and the lips, well juicy is a good place to start! I quickly pulled away from the mirror to avoid being called a vainpot, but secretly, I never wanted to leave.

This was 11 years ago. And everyday since then, I have been applying a full face of makeup every time I leave the house. If Kimora Lee said, “Always dress like you’re going to see your worst enemy”, then there was no way in hell I’d like anyone see me without any makeup on!

Over the years, I’ve experimented with many looks, many different hair colours, and after a while I had convinced myself that the trick was not to be “super fake” ie. if you had coloured hair, you shouldn’t use coloured contact lenses and vice versa. After all, there had to be some semblance of the real you left to avoid being called fake, bien sûr.

I won’t lie, boys did come in to the equation and many of which I had spoken to would be adamant that all they wanted was an ‘au naturel’ gal who didn’t need a lot of makeup on. The quintessential ‘ayu‘, if you may.

This was incredibly frustrating – I enjoyed makeup, how it could transform your entire look, your outfit and take it to the next level and more importantly, the instant dose of confidence it would give me every time someone complimented me on how nice I looked. And now it seemed, I would never find a man who would accept this because at the end of the day, what was important was that you looked like you had stepped out of a magazine with 0% effort put in.

Worse still, these guys were also the first ones to go “Fuah, Hot Babe!” whenever a girl dressed to the nines with two inch makeup on walked by as we sipped on some teh tarik at the Mamak. Talk about mixed signals!

This is when I decided to call bullpoop on what men wanted, and decided I would do what made me happy. Call me fake all you want, at least I wasn’t being a hypocrite to myself!

I recently decided to push my boundaries all the way by bleaching my entire head blonde with pink and orange slices, grey contact lenses, and pin-up makeup (that’s as fake as you can get, short of plastic surgery – but that’s a different topic all together), on a recent trip to Tokyo and I have never felt happier. Walking the streets of Tokyo, you’ll see all kinds of outrageous fashions and beauty styles that inspire and you’ll never feel out of place. No one judges, and it’s a refreshing feeling of liberation to be able to do whatever you want.

A fun experiment in Tokyo, trying out different looks every day

If there’s one thing that Tokyo has taught me is that changing the colour of your hair, eyes, and face doesn’t make you a bad human being. It doesn’t make you more fake, as the Japanese have proven to be the nicest, most polite and genuinely helpful people I have ever met.

Back home though, is a different story. A former friend’s boyfriend decided he had to take a jab at my new look by tweeting that I had a fake Barbie look to match my fake personality, and that I should have ‘Made in China’ stamped on my butt. Ouch.

But such is life – there will always be people who troll for the sake of it, and what’s important is that you always keep in check the person that you are today. If you stand by all the choices you make and are happier as a result, there’s no reason why being an inner beauty with some external help should be considered a bad thing. Let small minds talk about people, while you conquer the world with your new found confidence!

Go forth, and slap that lipstick on.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to empower women to express their individuality through makeup without giving a care to what anyone else has to say about it. However, it does not condone excessive obsession with your appearance – there is more to life than the person looking back at you in the mirror 😉

Audra Roslani

Coming from the fast-paced chaotic world of PR, Audra believes that stress can be managed in three stages: Visualisation of the perfect vacation in the long run, a glass of Teh Ais (be it of local, English, Taiwanese or Japanese variety) at the end of a long day, and most importantly in the therapeutic power of cat pictures for immediate stress relief.

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