Emma C

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

Generally wear a little each day when I’m going to work. I wear mascara, eyeshadow and a quick sweep of eyeliner. Lipbalm too, that’d be on my desert island list. Weekends when I’m working round the house I tend not to wear anything. 

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

I thought it was such an interesting project bringing together women from all walks of life to do something a little bit different. I love what I’ve seen so far, I’ve ended up quiet emotional looking at how amazing everyone looks and reading their stories, it’s definitely a wonderful antidote to the world of Instagram and pouting selfies. I’d be lying if I didn’t also say I’m intrigued to see what I look like completely make up free as well.

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

It depends on who I’m with, and what I’m doing. I suffered with really bad skin when I was younger and not being able to wear vest tops or a swimsuit with confidence for years because of acne really affected me. I don’t feel entirely comfortable with myself all the time, and I like to use makeup as a way to enhance good bits rather than simply hide the bad. 

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

Getting a bit older has led to me feeling more confident about myself; I don’t think I’ve got a bad face and I can see nice elements about myself but have never rated myself. I’m desperately unhappy with my weight and have been unable to exercise properly for a while following a couple of bad injuries that have needed surgery. Looking back at pictures of myself when I was younger (and smaller!) makes me sad as I worry that I’ll trap myself like this for a while. Body wise, my confidence is lower than it’s ever been and I don’t like that I allow myself to feel like this. 

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

It’s going to work out, so try and relax and stop stressing! I had set so many goals for myself at such a young age, but my life has taken a completely different direction. I wish I had realised then that coming off that path would make me the person I am today. 

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

Now! I chose to come back and complete this question after the session with Kristie; it had a really surprising effect on me. Have struggled with my appearance for so long, it was such an interesting and ultimately positive experience to see what other people see what they look at me. I love what she’s done for me and hopefully all the other women participating in this. Those bags and wrinkles you hone in on and panic about? No one else sees them, and I hope this teaches us to stop focussing on what we perceive to be our faults. 

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

My mum, for definite. She passed away a few years ago and started writing her story not long before she died. She didn’t get to finish it, sadly, and it always gets to me when I read what she did manage to capture and how amazing a person she was. She was such a strong, intelligent vibrant beautiful woman with a huge heart, there was so much of her life she never got around to telling us about. I also admire a group of friends of mine, collectively known as ‘Booze Group’. We started off as a book group, but admitted our new title was better as none of us had time to read the book and simply wanted to catch up, have a good swally and set the world to rights. I’m lucky to have such smart, ballsy and funny women in my life, they’re a great source of advice and morale boosting whenever any of us need it. 

8. What quality do you most admire in yourself?

I think I’m a kind person, I go out of my way to try and make sure I do something nice for someone each day, even if it’s as simple as telling them to have a nice day. It astonishes me how many people react so positively to such a small thing. 

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

Not one specific thing, I think I’m proud of where I am in my life. I have a great group of friends, a husband that rocks my world, a job that I love and I’m chuffed that I’ve worked hard to get here. We’re also in the middle of a huge renovation on a house and I’m incredibly proud that we are doing most of it ourselves. It’s a very steep learning curve, but I’m pretty excited by the thought of being able to say “I did that” when it’s finally done. 

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

I think there’s this perception that women today should be able to have it all in terms of a relationship, career and kids. I frequently feel that I’m not adhering to society’s strict timeline because I’m in my mid-30s, married and haven’t started decorating a nursery. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have all these things and hope to do so, I simply want to make sure I never feel like I’m being punished because I’m not there yet.