Claire

1. If you wear makeup, why do you wear makeup and how often do you wear makeup?

I love makeup! I don’t like and never wear foundation, but I tend to wear eye makeup (eyeliner and mascara) most days. I used to think it was about presenting the best version of myself, but these days, it sometimes feels more about armouring up; a survival mask.

2. What made you want to participate in this portrait series?

Kristie’s original post really struck a chord with me. I’m two years into motherhood, mum to a bright, loving and boisterous wee boy. And at once it has been the most incredible and the most challenging time of my life so far. There are days when love feels heavy. And it feels like the realness and rawness of being a mum, precariously balanced alongside a demanding full-time job and trying to nurture a marriage, is written all over my face. I’m curious to see what that looks like to others.

3. Is being completely makeup free something that makes you feel in any way uncomfortable?

Less so as I get older. I definitely feel more secure in myself if I’ve had time to apply eye makeup in the morning. But if I haven’t and I turn up to work with dark circles under my eyes and heavy lids, after a rough night with a teething toddler, I’m finally seeing that this is not necessarily a weakness. Sometime you can’t do it all. Sometimes it all feels a bit hard. And it’s ok to admit that  & let other people…other women know that. It’s not a competition.

4. Are there specific factors (positive or negative) that have influenced how you feel about how you look?

My weight definitely affects the way that I feel about my looks. Every day is a struggle! That said, I’m trying to reach a level of acceptance with my body. It’s not perfect. Far from it! But it has been good enough to do what, for me, it was designed to do. Grow a person. Feed him for 12 months. Provide the cuddles and comfort that only Mummy’s podgy bits can. When we’re past that stage, I’ll worry about hitting the gym!

5. If there was one piece of advice for the future you could give your younger self, what would it be?

Take more risks. Behave badly. Worry less about what others think. Seek advice from those who have extensive life experience when making big life decisions. They will not always be your parents or your teachers.

6. When have you felt most empowered in your life?

I used to think that being empowered meant earning my own money; owning my own place; having a busy social life; having a career: being independent. I feel differently since the birth of my child. True empowerment I think means feeling that you have found your place in life and I feel more of that since I became a Mum; having a little person depending on me and trusting in me to know what is best for them. It won’t be the same for everyone, but I wish women generally could be better at just supporting each others’ choices, whether you’re a Mum, or career-focused, or both, or neither…

7. Is there a woman fictional or real that you admire? Why?

I admire lots of amazing women and am happy to call them my friends, my family, my colleagues.  

8. What qualities do you most admire in yourself?

Tenacity; loving openly; saying sorry and meaning it. 

9. Is there an achievement you are particularly proud of? Why?

Mine is probably an obvious response to this question, but, if you can call a child an achievement, then I’m proud of mine. I underestimated how much having a child would change me and change my perspective on things. Every day, I look at him in absolute wonder. I still can’t quite believe that he’s mine. 

10. In daily life what are the pressures you feel most exposed to specifically as a woman?

To have it all and do it all. If you don’t look perfect, have a career, have a man, have kids etc etc etc – if you’re not constantly happy and nailing it - then somehow you’re failing at life!  It’s ridiculous!