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Putting on a game face gives me pleasure

I should be upfront that I am, in all respects, a person one would colloquially refer to as a "make-up junkie".

I am that woman who, despite owning an inexplicable number of tubes of red lipstick, can be easily convinced to buy a new one on the basis of sheer packaging alone.

Leave me alone in a mall and I naturally drift to the make-up aisles, where I will no doubt find yet another blusher that I must have.

This is despite how the top drawer of my armoire at home - the haven for all my pots and potions - creaks in disapproval each time I open it to cram in my latest spoils.

Despite this rather irrational love for stuff that I literally wash down the drain every day, there is one thing you won't ever catch me saying. That is the phrase oft uttered by men and women everywhere - that wearing make-up is a "choice".

Spend 10 minutes perfecting your eyelashes if it makes you feel good.

Because sometimes you can't achieve the same feel-good vibe from anything other than that perfect shade of lipstick.

It is a tricky thing, this concept of choice. When it comes to make-up, saying you choose to wear it assumes that not wearing it has the same social consequences - that neither option is more weighted than the other.

Think of it as choosing between laksa and nasi lemak for lunch. Both are equally yummy and calorie-ridden, right?

But this is where the problem lies. Because if you think you wear make-up by choice and you wear it for no one other than yourself, you are ignoring the fact that historically and culturally speaking, the court of opinion lies rather firmly in the make-up camp.

This is why most working women wear at least one item of make-up every day, even if it is just a swipe of lipstick or a dab of under-eye concealer.

One glance at female-focused advertising and you can see how society has been programmed to associate make-up with all the tenets of good grooming. After all, when was the last time you saw a woman on television or on a billboard rocking a bare face?

This mindset extends to regular life. Studies done in 2011 by Boston University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that wearing make-up increases the likelihood that a woman is thought of as competent, likable and trustworthy in the workplace. (Unsurprisingly, that study was paid for by Procter & Gamble, which at the time sold CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabbana make-up.)

Suddenly, you're no longer choosing between laksa and nasi lemak . Your options are now an ice cream sundae or a diet-friendly salad... in a cafe at the gym, surrounded by countless other gym bunnies munching on their greens.

As far as advertising imagery goes, it is hard to deny that in this day and age, wearing make-up for most adult women is considered the default.

I am sure there are women who choose not to wear make-up regularly. But I can assure you that they are not exempt from societal pressures.

Perhaps, there are people who truly wear make-up by choice. Who - should make-up-wearing become stigmatised tomorrow - will continue to paint their faces with abandon because they do it for themselves.

It is just that I have never met these women. And I am certainly not that woman myself.

When it comes to make-up, I say "aye" because of the pleasure I derive from the art of it.

To many, the 30 minutes it takes to put on a game face in the morning may be better spent in bed. But to others like myself, there is a certain pleasure in waking up each morning and deciding who I want to be that day.

Maybe it's drawing on a dark cat eyeliner one morning or dabbing on dewy highlighter the next.

I will readily admit that I - like most women around me - am a victim of the beauty industrial complex. Putting on make-up may not be a choice I make purely for myself, but it can still have value and be enjoyable.

So go ahead. Spend 10 minutes perfecting your eyelashes if it makes you feel good.

Because sometimes you can't achieve the same feel-good vibe from anything other than that perfect shade of lipstick.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline 'Putting on a game face gives me pleasure'. Print Edition | Subscribe