I’ve been working on this blog for a while now, and then I saw my beautiful soul sister post something similar to her Instagram. I wanted to share what she said, as well, because it’s a great way to sum up what I’m trying to say on this subject.
“Real talk. There’s this story among women that some of us can ‘get away’ with not wearing make up and some of us can’t because we aren’t a ‘natural beauty.’ It is bullshit. If we want to not wear make up, then we simply don’t wear make up. We give ourselves permission to be the women we want to be. I am not against make up at all, but I decided a long time ago that I would rather spend my time and money elsewhere. It was a conscious choice which aligns with my values. In the same way, if you want to wear it, you definitely should. But when someone tells me I can get away with it and they can’t because of some perceived flaw they have about themselves, I have to say bullshit. You owe it to yourself to say enough is enough. Other people, Hollywood, culture does not force us to believe or do anything. Yes, it makes it crazy hard, especially to be a woman. But we are the ones who choose whether we decide our own beauty or let someone else dictate it for us. We are the ones who define beauty. There is no set standard that we have to mold ourselves to. We have to stop pretending we are so weak that we can’t be who we wish to be. I totally have acne, and a high forehead, and eyebrows that could be more defined, the list probably goes on and on. But what I have chosen instead is to spend more time reading, washing myself in creeks, and looking at my body and seeing it as beautiful just as it is. I’ve chosen that beauty is embracing the raw, unedited, authentic body and soul that I am.” — Aubrey Renee
I distinctly remember the first time I felt uncomfortable with my face, and ironically, it was when I started wearing makeup for the first time. The thing is, I didn’t start wearing makeup to hide anything. Luckily, I didn’t have acne, so I wasn’t really trying to cover anything up; I was just 12 years old and wanted to look like Avril Lavigne, so I lined my eyes with black eyeliner a lot and I liked to try out different products. Not much has changed in that department, aside from the fact that Avril Lavigne is not really my style-inspiration these days. (Love ya, Avril.)
I remember being at church, and as I was leaving after the service, one of the youth pastors stopped me in the doorway.
“You don’t need to wear all that stuff on your face to church.”
Just to church? Or all the time?
Funny how I walked into church that morning feeling fine about myself, but this comment has stuck with me for nearly 17 years.
I got in the van with my mom, unsure of how I felt about the comment, and with something hot welling up in my throat, I asked her “Mom, do I wear too much makeup or something?” She could tell something was up, and she whipped her head around to look at me in the backseat.
“You don’t need makeup, but what you have on looks fine. Why?” I told her what the man had said and she encouraged me to brush it off. “If you are wearing too much makeup, I’ll be the one to tell you. Don’t worry about what he says.”
Now, I realize I was embarrassed by his comment, possibly the worst emotion a 12 year old could feel when she’s trying to figure shit out about herself. But in the moment, I was still unsure of what he meant, and more importantly, newly unsure of myself. To be honest, the rebellious part of me probably wore even more makeup to church the next time just to spite him, but this one comment planted the seed that eventually became the weeds that choked my self-esteem for years to come. This interaction began making me feel like I “needed” to wear makeup, and as I got older and saw the beautiful girls in my classes and the way they looked, I began wearing more and more makeup. As an adolescent, teenager, and early 20-something, I wouldn’t go out without makeup on. Ever. Not even to the grocery store with my mother. I wore it to volleyball practice, to class, and to sleep. I was afraid someone would see me with my bare face and realize that I wasn’t as beautiful as they originally thought. I was afraid that I would be exposed. I was afraid everyone would realize I’m a fraud.
Even as an adult, it’s difficult to literally show your face without someone saying “Aw, you look tired.” Would I look less like a zombie with some concealer and blush? Probably. But it’s comments like these that fuel that “need” for makeup in my mind, and I’m not totally okay with that. I want to feel okay with myself either way.
It took over a decade for me to be okay with my face, and honestly, I think my opinion about myself has really only shifted in the last year or so. I’ve worn less makeup this year than I ever have, and to be honest, my makeup-less days started just because I am more busy and didn’t have the time to worry about it. Plus, I have okay skin and no amount of concealer will completely cover my dark circles under my eyes, so what’s the point? They are always there no matter what, and that’s that. (Own what you’ve got, right?) These days, I worry more about taking care of my skin, not covering it up, and that makes all the difference. My skin thanks me for the extra attention and the break from foundation and powders.
Of course I still wear a full face of makeup sometimes — I love makeup! — I just don’t feel the “need” to wear it each and every day. My everyday makeup is pretty minimal anyway, involving only some BB cream and mascara and a little bronzer, but otherwise, I am likely bare-faced with some sunscreen. And *gasp!* I haven’t scared anyone in the line at Starbucks or caused my husband to divorce me from my makeup-less skin. For me, it’s been important to realize that a lot of my insecurities have stemmed from outsiders, people who don’t know me, or the forever-engrained idea that I’m “supposed” to look a certain way.
The truth is, sometimes (perhaps surprisingly) I actually feel more confident without makeup. To me, being authentic is important, and sometimes that means going bare-faced out into the world and smiling as confidently as I do when I’m rocking eyeliner and red lipstick. Feeling free from the perceived expectations I’ve lived with my entire life does wonders for my confidence. I just wish it hadn’t taken me over a decade to figure that out.