*Originally written for 30DNM campaign and website.
I might be an extrovert according to the tests but truth be told, I process the deeper and harder things on an internal level. Sometimes it takes me awhile to come to conclusions. Sometimes I just need to let things marinate within me.
If nothing else, nature reminds me that beautiful things take time. The way flowers grow, how seasons change, the birthing process. Forming “pretty” isn’t easy and is often much more counter cultural than we'd assume.
I was really excited for #30daysnomakeup to be over. I was a little sad too. I had come to really look forward to seeing posts and encouragement on their Instagram and blog. I found other people with similar views and passions for empowering women. However I was ready for the holiday, for wearing make-up, for dressing up and embracing all the glitz and glitter.
As December 15th approached, I made a plan for my day. I would take a long hot shower; I would use oils; take time on my eyebrows and hair. I would PUT ON make-up. And I wouldn't skimp on anything. There would be eyeliner and red lips. After it was all said and done I worked to take a picture of my "new and improved" face. Truth be told, I was strikingly underwhelmed.
I was so underwhelmed it was actually depressing and embarrassing. Why couldn't I just snap a picture of my face!? I had worked so hard to make it look good! I kept staring at my face and feeling weird about it. I had assumed that I would feel 10x more beautiful finally being able to wear make-up but I didn't.
I believed my experience was dissimilar to other people's experiences. Maybe that wasn’t true, but I envied those who I assumed felt beautiful without make-up and beautiful with make-up on. They looked so happy in their skin. I realized I was still trying to feel safe in my skin. Make-up wasn't nearly the shield I had hoped it would be for me. All this time it made me feel safe. It was my barrier from the harsh and critical world. But on December 15th, that barrier didn't seem to stick the way I wanted it to. My face was still there, buried under all that make-up. All that time, all that thought, all that precision. Me.
My vulnerability was still looking right back at me.
It's hard to face the world unarmed. It's especially hard to face myself unarmed. There are always shields available to us wherever we go. As a child, make-up wasn't my shield but being good and perfect was. As I became older, staying thin and running became my shield. Smiling when I was angry was my shield. Saying yes instead of no was my shield. People-pleasing was my shield. I let go of these shields when I found something that was actually more powerful than my shields, things like courage, kindness, vulnerability and breathing.
The thing about shields, though, is that they are heavy and exhausting. After awhile they just don't serve me the way I need them to. The more I access my courage muscle and practice shame resilience the less I need them.
I'm not saying I never wear make-up now. I'm not even saying that going make-up free is the better, cooler, less toxic, more hip (or however you fill that blank) thing to do. What I am saying is that participating in #30daysnomakeup freed me a little bit more. It empowered me. It made me less afraid of me. It allowed me to drop one of my shields for a little awhile. I need my make-up less now and I wear it less. And that feels really, really good.