Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey

Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey

Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey

Before I moved abroad, I thought I was pretty tough. I was a workaholic, I was at the gym everyday–if not twice a day, all while working two jobs and two volunteer English positions. I had a strict policy of not letting anything affect me personally, and I’d always been told that I acted beyond my years. I just liked being busy.

I found that being bored made me depressed and sluggish. However, because of that it didn’t leave me much time to allow myself to think about the condition of my nails or how I looked, or even to consider the height that I was allowing my stress levels to reach. I was comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans so that was my dress code.

After I moved to Turkey, however, I quickly realized there are many different aspects of being ‘tough.’ A different culture can literally shock you into making you analyze yourself–even if you don’t want to.

In Turkey, I found that people are very forward. It comes from their culture and desire of always wanting to help other people. If they notice you are having trouble with something–anything at all–they will begin giving you advice or trying to help you solve your problem.

“What happened to your face?” was what spilled out of my student’s mouth. I froze.

These problems could be as easy as: finding the right doctor, where to get a haircut, or the best local gym. However, what really struck me was that my friends and students all had no problem causally bringing up personal subjects that would be rude to even think about asking back home.

My first encounter with this was while I was in the middle of class teaching English one night when my student raised his hand to ask a question–or so I thought. Well, it was a question, but it had nothing to do with the grammar that I had been discussing.

If I hadn’t been red before, now I was positive that my face was a scarlet cover of red.

“What happened to your face?” was what spilled out of my student’s mouth. I froze, turned bright red, and quickly put my hand to my face thinking I had put the white-board marker on my cheek or something.

Then as I was assessing what I had eaten that day for lunch, they all turned to their phones for their online dictionary to translate what they were trying to say. Then their words just began to hit me: “pimple?” “zit?” “Acne?” If I hadn’t been red before, now I was positive that my face was a scarlet cover of red.

Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey
Celebrating my birthday with my incredibly honest friends.

I quickly recovered and gave a short laugh, “Ahh my acne…” I responded. Little did I know that this was only the first of many such encounters. Later as I talked with other foreign English teachers, I learned that this was a common occurence and that I should not take it personally.

In Turkish culture, it is considered very polite to notice things about others, even if they are as ugly as acne or weight gain, and then once people have noticed them and alerted you, they begin to think of different ways to fix the problem.

I was a bit naïve to think that the common reminders that I found in the States to “be the skinniest you can be!” or “have something imperfect about your body? Try X product to change it!” were unique to the U.S.  If anything, these impulses are even stronger in Turkey–though they are better hidden.

Not only was I always wearing makeup and nail polish, but I also had a new air about myself.

When my dad came to visit me in Turkey, I remember catching a glimpse of my new self. Not only was I always wearing makeup and nail polish, but I also had a new air about myself. I was calm and relaxed and finally not stressed.

All of this seemed ironic.  Before I left, I had read tons of blog posts from women who wrote that they forgot about makeup and feminine impulses while traveling abroad. For me, the opposite has been true.

Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey
Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey

Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey

Related Reading

Have you traveled to Turkey? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey photo credit: unsplash

 


 

About Haley Larkin

Haley LarkinHaley Larkin is currently teaching English in Turkey through LanguageCorps.

6 thoughts on “Why I Started Wearing Makeup in Turkey

  1. Avatar
    Camelia Wonders
    February 28, 2018
    Reply

    Nice and happy looking story.. God blessing you wherever you’re Halley.. I’m planning visiting turkey next year.. thanks for sharing many information about Turkish..

  2. Haley
    Haley
    March 6, 2015
    Reply

    Anon,

    Thank you so much for your comment! I am so sorry if I have offended you- I have no intention of doing anything of the sort. This post is only a reflection of my experiences, I do know that every person has different experiences, and in different cities. While I don’t know which part of Turkey you are from, Turkey is a very large and has many different cultures and ways of acting all across the country.

    The situation which I have written about has happened to me more than once, and it isn’t a misunderstanding of the language, since I speak Turkish as well. But, it is only the ways of the small city in which I currently live- and by no means a reflection of Turkish people as a whole.

    Once again thank you for your comment. Have a wonderful day.

  3. Avatar
    Anon
    March 6, 2015
    Reply

    I got to say that part about pointing out unfortunate things about a person, like pimples, is completely untrue. Are you sure he was referring to your pimples and not something else? You didn’t seem to ask him, so it may have been something else that had changed and your response was probably accommodated due to their lack of understanding the language.

    Pointing out positive things, ie: compliments, that is true, as Turkish people tend to be hospitable, accommodative and kind – sometimes more than westerners and sometimes unnecessarily so. However, to point out a negative, they would have to be very comfortable with you to the point where they would know that there is no possibility of you feeling offended. No different than anywhere else.

    The teacher you spoke to about this probably inflated her analysis of the negative pimple comment in order for you to feel less uncomfortable about her understanding of your perception (ie: she may have tried to prevent you from feeling insulted). Or she may have added this fictitious part in so that you don’t interpret the comment as evidence of Turkish people being abnormal, which is why she may have tried to normalize this odd comment for you.

    In either case, I am Turkish, and have just asked two more Turkish people about this – they had the same points of contention that I had.

    Overall, you are largely correct about many of the generalizations you draw in most of your articles, which the exception of some needing slight tweaking.

    I can comment on those if you wish, but won’t bother if it isn’t needed.

    Thank you, have a lovely day and I hope you have a fantastic time in your travels.

    • Haley
      Haley
      March 6, 2015
      Reply

      Anon,

      Thank you so much for your comment! I am so sorry if I have offended you- I have no intention of doing anything of the sort. This post is only a reflection of my experiences, I do know that every person has different experiences, and in different cities. While I don’t know which part of Turkey you are from, Turkey is a very large and has many different cultures and ways of acting all across the country.

      The situation which I have written about has happened to me more than once, and it isn’t a misunderstanding of the language, since I speak Turkish as well. But, it is only the ways of the small city in which I currently live- and by no means a reflection of Turkish people as a whole.

      Once again thank you for your comment. Have a wonderful day.

      • Avatar
        Anon
        July 7, 2016
        Reply

        Thanks for the clarification, maybe it is just a small city thing, since I nor the two people I’ve asked recognised it. Have all your experiences been related to them pointing out negative things? If so that is terrible & I’m sorry to hear that.

        Cheers

  4. Avatar
    August 26, 2014
    Reply

    It certainly does change you living here. Sometimes not for the good though. I always think women should wear a little bit of make up though. Even if it is only mascara to make their eyes stand out. I always tell a lot about a person by their eyes.

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