That’s how I feel without makeup on.
Just saying those things makes me feel kind of pathetic. I mean, it’s just makeup.
But for me it has been much more than just makeup.
From an early age I’ve been concerned about my appearance. I remember being 9 years old and looking down at my round stomach, wishing it was flat. I hated the way my tummy folded over on itself when I sat down. And mind you, I wasn’t a classically overweight child.
I’d look at the other little girls around me with their flat chests, flat stomachs and straight hips and I’d wish and wish and wish that I looked like them.
But, even at 9 years old, I was curvy.
I had thick thighs, a round bottom and was already wearing a training bra.
I also had really crooked teeth.
Like really really crooked.
All of these things bothered me. I thought about them constantly and I’d obsess over being able to ‘fix’ them when I was older.
I’ve always been really observant and I would study all the women and girls around me. I noticed when the pastor’s wife had perfectly applied purple eyeshadow to match her fabulous 80’s shoulder pad-studded sweater. I admired her coordinating jewelry and matching purple shoes.
When my friend Marie got a set of Gap polo shirts with flowers embroidered on the collar (one green with coral flowers and the other coral with green flowers), I was envious. When I saw her decked out in her name brand perfectly coordinated outfit, I promised myself that someday, when I had my own money, I’d get perfectly coordinated name brand clothes too.
I kept that promise.
When I was ten and a half I got a paid babysitting job. I’d sock that money away, saving for a car and using the rest to buy clothes and eventually makeup. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup for a LONG time (thanks mom for sparing me from looking like a hussy at 10) but it didn’t stop me from begging.
This Dr. Pepper chapstick has a pink tint to it, is that okay mom? Can I pleaaaase wear it?
I found this clear mascara at Arbor Drug, mom. Can I pleaaase wear it?
How about light pink nail polish JUST on my toes? What about clear polish on my fingers?
I had this idea that if I just wore the right clothes and had the perfect makeup, everything would be better.
I would be happier, more popular and life would be great.
I’d pour over images of the women in my mom’s Redbook magazine. Devouring articles about achieving the perfect fresh face for summer or glam look for a cocktail party.
I’d sneak issues of Seventeen magazine (even though my dad insisted they were garbage) and I’d be so envious of the perfect looking teen girls. Hair just right, trendy outfit, and cute guy gazing at them in the background.
I wanted to be that girl.
So basically from 14 till now I’ve been a makeup girl.
I’m the one applying just a little more blush or another coat of mascara on a bad day. Checking my face in the visor mirror twice on the 2 minute drive to church on Sunday morning. Hiding behind a hat and glasses when I’m running to the store wearing only the leftover makeup from the day before.
I admire the no makeup girls. In fact, I often think they are better because they don’t have the crutch. They feel good in their own skin.
I honestly feel like my dependency on makeup is a huge weakness.
And weakness makes me cringe. But that’s a whole other blog post…
So, for the last 18 years, unless I’m sick or not leaving the house, I wear makeup.
The idea of going out of the house without makeup and running into someone I know, has been terrifying.
I hate that.
But also, true.
Even just mascara and blush makes me feel like I’m not a hideous beast.
As if dark lashes and pink cheeks are the two things keeping me from looking like a Yeti!
Crazy, I know.
So you can imagine my dismay when a girl from my Bible study told us that she felt led to take a No Makeup Challenge on our upcoming weekend retreat. She was telling us about it to keep herself accountable and also to invite us to join her if we felt so inclined.
My first thought was, “Dammit. I’m going to have to do it.”
I didn’t want to be the girl who “couldn’t” do it because she was too vain or too insecure.
I also just didn’t want to do it. Period.
It scared me and that’s why I knew I had to do it.
I left that meeting torn about what to do. I argued it back and forth in my mind for the weeks leading up to the retreat and the morning we left I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until about 10 minutes before I left the house to pick up my friend who initiated the challenge.
The thing that put me over the edge and kept me from applying my makeup that morning was probably the Holy Spirit, but it was also the thought of her hopping into my car, seeing me with a face of makeup on and thinking, “so much for solidarity!”
I don’t necessarily think she would have thought that exactly, but the idea of it was enough to give me the nudge I needed.
Let me tell you, that weekend was REVOLUTIONARY.
It was called a “High Adventure Camp” weekend because we were physically challenged to hike through the woods, climb over walls and brave a high ropes course and it had a very spiritual component to it as we were encouraged to relate our approach with each challenge to our approach to life in general.
But one of the biggest things I learned and grew from was not wearing a stitch of makeup for two straight days in the company of men and women that I respect and admire.
A few of the other ladies on the retreat also took the challenge, and when I looked around at their makeup-less faces, I thought they still looked so beautiful.
Sure they looked a little different than usual, but their naked faces were so vulnerably pretty.
Every single one of them looked great, and I sat there thinking how crazy it was that they all looked great and I looked awful without my makeup.
But then I thought back to this video (go ahead and watch it if you have 3 minutes to spare) and it dawned on me that maybe I didn’t look so terrible either.
I mean what are the odds that all of the other ladies looked great and I happened to be the only one that looked terrible. Maybe they didn’t think I looked so bad either…
Maybe I’m OKAY just as I am.
No makeup, no frills but still special.
God has been revealing His love for me in big ways over the past 9 months of this Bible study and this was like the cherry on top of all that I’ve come to understand about who I am.
Taking that challenge was so very freeing and has totally changed my perspective on makeup. I’m ok with leaving the house bare faced, I didn’t feel the need to ‘put on my face’ every day on our vacation and I’m so much more comfortable being me, just as I am.