A few years ago, I reconsidered my habit of wearing makeup every day. Not that makeup is wrong, but I was struck by the fact that I was proud of how I looked with it on. And I was not proud of how I looked without it–as a quiet introvert, I needed something to make me special and help me stand out from the crowd, didn’t I? It would be humbling to admit who I was without this kind of smoothed-on beauty.
So, I decided it would be healthy for me to take it off for a while. Not permanently, but long enough to see who I was without it. To stop pretending my made-up face was the only one I had.
Back then, I worked in an office, and I had tied a big part of my worth and identity to looking beautiful. I thought the no makeup thing would stand out incredibly to my co-workers. I expected comments. Especially since people had a habit of asking me if I was tired any time I failed to wear eyeliner.
As exposed and plain as I felt when I first headed to work sans makeup, nothing of note happened that week. I wasn’t left out or forgotten. My value as a person and contributor to the team didn’t crumble. A grand total of one person asked me (sincerely) if a makeup free face was a new trend. Other than that, I had a little more time in the morning and a new understanding of who I was beneath my foundation—me. Still me.
Thanks in part to that week, I’m less consistent in wearing makeup these days. The pressure to compensate for the parts of me I sometimes consider weaknesses–my quietness, namely–by consistently looking as perfect as possible no longer has such a hold on me. Some days, I put on makeup like I would put on a pulled-together outfit. Happily. And some days, I smile without. Happily.
But I’m still learning not to put too much value on my efforts at external beauty. Take today, for example, when I took the photos of myself with and without makeup for this post. As I lined up the two photos, I felt silly. I’m writing a whole post about this like the decision to not wear makeup makes a big difference, but really, it’s still me in both of those photos. No big difference included.
Turns out, the biggest difference between me with makeup and me without is in my own mind. Knowing that, I’m a bit more comfortable in my own skin. I can’t say that I’m perfectly secure, of course. But I can say this choice doesn’t control me as much as it used to.
We’re selling ourselves short if we think our beauty or worth depends on makeup-created flawlessness. Anytime we begin to rely on surface beauty—makeup, that cute outfit, those expensive shoes—in order to feel good about ourselves, we need to take a gigantic step back. Maybe even go without something for a bit.
If makeup doubles as our self-confidence and beauty, we’re applying it wrong. Beauty is something much more substantial.
As 1 Peter 3:4 says, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (ESV)
Pursue that kind of beauty so that whatever you see in the mirror on any given day, you can know who you are: You. Still beautiful you.
Do you know this is true? Join me in posting a pic of yourself using #stillbeautifulme either without makeup or with half makeup and half not like I did.
PS- This post is part of the 12-week series Beauty Rewrites featuring Christina Hubbard, Ludavia Harvey, and myself. Join us on Tuesdays for a fresh look at beautiful. For all the Beauty Rewrites posts, click here!