I gave up makeup for a year for spiritual reasons, and learned a lot from the experience, spiritually and in other areas of life. Here’s Part 2 of the lessons I learned. Read Part 1 here. Read the start of the journey here.
I am sure a brilliant social scientist has written about this somewhere, but people like and are interested in pretty things and people, and pay them attention accordingly.
If I Want People To Notice Me, I May Have to Raise My Hand
With makeup on, I’d probably be considered pretty in a fairly ordinary way, but even without being strikingly pretty, people seem more interested in me. People noticed me, talked to me, listened to me, and had high expectations of me more often as a pretty girl than as an average or unattractive one. I didn’t realize this until I became the average/unattractive version of myself and noticed that I had to prove that I was an interesting person that people should be curious about instead of being automatically treated that way. It helped me to realize that if I give into my self-doubt and insecurity and sell myself short, I will get passed over. It also helped me to realize that
I can’t always wait for someone to give me the opportunity to demonstrate that I am capable, intelligent, and high achieving–sometimes I have to make the opportunity by (gasp!) calling attention to myself because I won’t always be the brightest, shiniest, prettiest girl in the room, even on my best day.
As one of my favourite role models/businesswomen/motivators/influencers, Pauleanna Reid often says, if you want something, you have to raise your hand!
I Like Looking Attractive
When I started this makeup-free journey, I distinctly remember wondering whether my relationship with makeup would be so transformed that I would no longer care about it and subsequently make going makeup-free a permanent part of my life. I also wondered whether I would be able to go back to makeup without having the same relationship I had with it before.
Interestingly, going without makeup made it clear to me that I hadn’t simply worn it before because I feared what life would be like without it: I wore it because I liked it. I liked the artistry of working with different tools and techniques, the challenge of finding what specific shapes worked with the various curves and contours of my features, and, of course, the final result. There is a nice sense of satisfaction from feeling that you look good (and then sashaying down the street when no one’s looking).
In addition, my inner anthropologist tells me that there is something very gratifying about the social aspect of makeup. As something that many women wear, it’s a shared experience that we have. We will joke about our false eyelashes falling off at the most inopportune times, complain about not finding a product we want, compliment each other on a (makeup) job well done, and give each other makeup tips that make us feel helpful and kind of close to each other. The whole mundane “girliness” of it gave made me feel really feminine.
I really missed all these things when I wasn’t wearing makeup, and it was one of the things that made it hard. Now that my year is finished and I’ve been able to wear makeup again, I’ve been doing so, and I’m not going to lie to you, girl, I’ve been enjoying it!
That being said, even though I like looking attractive, I’m no longer as supremely uncomfortable when I don’t look that way. I don’t feel like I’m beautiful all the time, and can be honest with myself when I look average or just not that great, but it doesn’t make me feel panicked or anxious the way it used to. I also feel ambivalent about the same #fire selfies I used to take before this year. You know the ones I’m talking about–those smizing like your life depends on it, bye bye chimpunk cheek angles, hiding all my fine lines in this bathroom window lighting kind of selfies. Yes, they made me look fine as all outdoors, but they also don’t look like me at all. Maybe I’m just tired of trying so hard (I am), but these days, I want to look like myself most of the time, even with my chubby cheeks and droopy shadows.
Back in April, just after the year was up, I had this burning question about what would be next. I wondered how I would enjoy makeup and beauty without depending on it too much, but it was not as difficult as I thought because my attitude toward it had already changed. I guess I was expecting a massive, revolutionary breakthrough at the conclusion of the year, but as it turns out, I was learning a lot of those lessons as the year went on.
In summary: I don’t need to be beautiful or perfect to be loved by God or cared about by people; faith, patience and gratitude brings me more peace and happiness than a beautiful face; and attractiveness is fun and enjoyable but not a prerequisite to a full life.
I am grateful to God for the motivation and sheer courage to do this in the first place and all of the growth. However, this was still an extremely uncomfortable and challenging journey for me. It took me out of a place where I (pretended) to feel safe, and made me feel vulnerable almost everyday. As a girl who admires toughness and who spent years building and fortifying very high walls, being in a position where I had to start taking some of them down and allow myself to be vulnerable was a hard thing to experience. But discomfort is how we grow in faith, in life, and in our sense of our own capabilities. Life is full of challenges and learning opportunities, and I await the next one. I bet it’ll be hard but worth it, like this one.
Read Part 1 here
Have any questions for me? Confused about the God part of why I did this? I’d be happy to answer. Leave your questions in a comment below.
Would you go a year without makeup? Why (not)?