2013 Beauty of a Woman Blogfest – Comfortable in My Own Skin
I’m probably one of the few women in the world who doesn’t like wearing make-up. I have a few reasons for this, some more “mechanical”, and some more philosophical. Let me give you a bit of background, though.
I remember wearing (in the very loosest of terms) make-up as a small child. Do you remember those cheapo little make-up kits you found in the kids section of the dollar store? Yeah, things like that. I’m 99% sure I looked more like a clown than a young girl when I got my hands on those.
But, a little closer to puberty, my mom laid down a hard-and-fast rule: her daughters would not be allowed to wear make-up on a regular basis until they were 15 years old.
I really hadn’t been interested in wearing make-up (other than for ‘dress-up’) until I was about 11 or 12. So when mom laid that rule out, I was not happy.
I didn’t understand why all my friends at church were allowed to wear make-up, and I couldn’t. Now, I’m so very grateful for it (though I’m sure a major factor in my mother’s decision, besides the emotional difference it made, was the fact that we were living pretty dang near – IE: below – the poverty line and make-up is expensive).
So during those oh-so-crucial years of fluctuating hormones and peer pressure, instead of worrying about what shade my lips needed to be that day, I was still free to be a kid.
Instead of investing my time in countless hours of beauty experiments and boy-chasing, I was playing make-believe in the backyard with my sister and brother (totally almost typed ‘bother’ there *snicker*), and reading.
And then, around the time I did start wearing make-up, I became excruciatingly aware of the impossible standards my father was demanding of me. I was supposed to go to college, major in something I knew I wouldn’t enjoy (math, or accounting, or pre-med), and become “successful”*. But, I was informed, I couldn’t expect any financial support from my family. In any way. And if I didn’t go to college, I would be a failure at life.
(Because my dad didn’t finish college until just a few years ago, and he felt he had failed at life because of it. In reality, it is his unwillingness to let go of the comfort and familiarity of failure that has held him back.)
That was when I truly became aware of masks. The masks I put up for my friends – making it seem like everything was okay at home, that we were a happy family, that I admired my dad.
And all of this helped shape why I truly despise make-up these days.
I won’t say I never wear make-up, because I do. There’s been a lot of unavoidable stress in my family life lately (not from hubby), and you can tell with the dark shadows under my eyes. While I don’t wear make-up every day, I do wear it if I know I’m going to be somewhere were a camera is going to make an extended appearance.
Or to, say, awards banquets. Because formal clothes just BEG for fun make-up to go with them.
But on a day-to-day basis? Well, here are the reasons I don’t wear make-up:
1. I don’t like the way it feels on my face.
I have sensitive eyes, and wearing mascara for more than 2 hours literally makes my eyes itch. I’ve never found a foundation that sits on my skin right, either. No matter what type it is, they always dry my skin out and make it flake like crazy.
And lipstick . . . I tend to lick my lips and/or chew on them a lot. Lipstick just inevitably ends up on my teeth instead of my lips. So even when I do wear make-up, I rarely wear lipstick.
2. I don’t want to take the time to put it on.
My mornings, even on the days I’m not going anywhere, are hectic. I’m up before the crack of dawn – and I’m not even kidding. It’s everything I can do to make it to the bathroom without face-planting into a wall. Why would I want to add potential eye-stabbings to the list of morning hazards?
I have better things to be doing with my time. Like feeding the chickens, and writing. Or snuggling the kitties. But let’s face reality here: snuggling the kitties is more important than just about EVERYTHING.
3. The money.
Why do I want to pour hundreds of dollars a year into an industry responsible for animal testing, or destroying women’s self-esteem? Women are not cookie-cutter perfection, and we shouldn’t have to feel that way.
4. It makes me feel like I’m wearing a mask.
I was talking with Eris O’Reilly at work the other day about this blog post, and we got to talking about wearing masks.
One of the things I pointed out was that I didn’t like the idea of those women who can’t leave the house without “putting their face on”. I also brought up my horror at some of the friends I’ve had in the past who were so insecure about their own appearance they couldn’t go to bed without TOUCHING UP their make-up.
Eris pointed out that sometimes make-up can be armor, a defense when you are feeling vulnerable, or your confidence level is low. And I agree – but it should not be a daily thing. (Which it isn’t for Eris.)
But because of my family circumstances, mentioned above, masks had become a part of MY daily life.
Putting on a mask every time I talked with my father, pretending to be interested in the same things he was – especially when it pertained to MY future – just so he wouldn’t yell me. Or wouldn’t yell at my mom.
Putting on a mask for myself, every time I put on make-up. Telling myself that the world approved of me, even though I didn’t love myself. That I could appear to know who I was, even though I was so lost and confused.
5. Because I like the “real me”, the one without the mask, even on days when I’m tired and you can see it, even on days when my hormones are going nuts and there are breakouts on my cheeks, and around my hair-line.
When I was nineteen, I realized just how dependent I had become on my mask. I was sitting in a church service, and the speaker brought up this passage of scripture (Matthew 22:36-39 KJV):
Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
At that point, I thought “Okay, I can handle this.”
Then, he read the next part:
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
And as the thought “Oh, I’m off the hook, then.” flittered through my mind, I was suddenly frightened to realize I was dead serious. I did not love myself – not one bit.
Because how could I love myself when I didn’t know who I was? I’d worn so many masks for so many people through my childhood and early adulthood, I’d never had the chance to find out.
That was the year I finally gave writing an honest shot. I’d written as a hobby before, but anytime I mentioned possibly doing something more with it, people would shoot it down.
So I set it aside for a time to attempt some time at college. I’ll be honest – I enjoyed my 18 credit hours earned over the course of 2 1/2 years. (Cause remember, I didn’t get parental help for college. I paid for it all on my own dime, which meant I was holding down a job as well.)
And while college was entertaining (especially since quite a bit of the time I was one of the older students), it really offered nothing to little, introverted me.
So I started pursuing my own interests, for the first time in my life. And I discovered characters and people and worlds inside my mind just begging to be put down on paper and shared with the world.
It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized I didn’t need masks anymore, at all. I could be a writer – I am a writer. No, I will probably never graduate from college. And I - ME - am perfectly okay with that.
I don’t care about a piece of paper saying I was approved by a school in a specific area of study. I wanted to study LIVING. I’m proud now to embrace the titles of “Writer”, “Aspiring Author”, “NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison”, “Wife”, “Best Friend”, “Urban Farmer”, “Chicken Momma”, “Cat Herder”, “DIY-er”, “Seamstress”, and most importantly, “Child of God”.
Because the real me is the only me one who is strong enough to face the world each day, so that’s what the world is going to get.
I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. Now, wearing make-up everyday feels like putting on a false front for the world. This me is who I am, and if you don’t like it, then you don’t know what you’re missing out on .
And every woman who is strong enough to pursue her dreams – whether it’s with or without the additional armor (not mask!) of make-up is BEAUTIFUL.
*Don’t mistake me here, though. If you WANT to be a mathematician, or an accountant, or a doctor, that’s FINE. As long as it’s what you want to do, not a standard you have to meet for the love and/or approval of a parent.