While the title of this article may lead you to think I’m going to talk about something really deep and introspective about the opportunity Purim gives us to reinvent and rededicate ourselves in the same way that the Jews of Persia reaccepted the Torah at the time of Purim, I am, in fact, not going in that direction at all. You may even say I’m going in the opposite direction, as I am going to talk about something totally superficial (and super fun): MAKEUP!!
I am, by training, a very well-read makeup artist (as in, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a Professional Certificate of Makeup Artistry, but I only use one of them to make a living—guess which) and every Purim, I choose our costumes (as in, mine and my husband’s) by deciding who I want to be with my makeup that year. We’ve done Egyptian, geisha and samurai, sheriff and saloon girl, flamenco, the roaring 20’s, Oktoberfest, and many others, and each one comes with a different makeup look to make it more “authentic”. So here are a few tips on how you can up your costume makeup game this year if you so desire:
Do your research – If you have a historical or thematic costume planned, Google the makeup that’s associated with it for examples. Don’t just take the first one you find, because there can be many different riffs on the same theme. Scroll through, check out your different options, and choose the one you like best or feel most able to achieve.
Watch a tutorial – There are tons of YouTube makeup tutorials available for all sorts of costume makeup. From turning yourself into a Lichtenstein piece of art to getting the perfect winged liner for a 50’s theme, you can find step-by-step instructions, which should also include the products used, to totally nail the look.
Practice – Find some time BEFORE Ta’anis Esther to practice applying your makeup so that you’re not struggling to get it right at the same time you’re trying to get your kids suited up and out the door for Megillah reading. I know; it’s hard to find the time to go to the bathroom, let alone practice makeup for Purim, but give it at least one trial run so things go smoother on the day of. When everyone is marveling at how you actually look like you just stepped out of the Great Gatsby, you’ll see, it’ll be worth it.
Costumes—and makeup—may seem a little silly to some, but when done right, they can be so much fun! Don’t forget, it’s not only about the fun and fashion; there’s actually more to it (sorry, couldn’t help myself). As you sit in front of the mirror and apply your makeup, as you conceal who you really are and bring out a different face, try to remember the lesson our costumes are supposed to teach us: Though Hashem isn’t always obviously with us, though He was concealed in Shushan so many years ago and it still feels that way so often in today’s time, it’s really just an illusion—some well-placed makeup that makes Him seem so.
I remember the year we dressed up as Egyptians. My then one-year-old daughter cried her eyes out when she saw me—so distorted was I from what I normally looked and felt like to her. But later, when I washed my face, and she saw clearly that it was me…I will never forget the ferocity of the hug she gave me as I lay her down to bed that night. May this year and this Purim be the time Hashem removes His mask so that we can all see Him clearly and be comforted by His fierce embrace, with the coming of Moshiach b’mheira b’yameinu!