I was one of those girls.
I would not leave the house without a full face of makeup, not even to get gas.
I knew I looked better with makeup. I felt more polished, more presentable, more ready for my day. And I knew everyone else thought that too.
I put makeup on when I was sick. I put makeup on when I was home with young children. If I had been born twenty years earlier, I’m sure I would have been wearing heels and pearls too.
But then we went to Thailand, and makeup was a lost cause. It was so hot that sweat left trails through my perfectly painted face. I was left with a hard choice: go barefaced or wind up looking like Joker from Batman. Not the 1960s clown-like Joker. The Heath Ledger Joker. So I quit wearing makeup altogether except for really special occasions, and then I would only wear mascara and lipstick (because lips and eyelashes don’t sweat).
When we came back to the States, I went right back into full makeup mode except for Saturdays. I found I needed one day a week to feel the same freedom I had felt overseas.
Then we started taking family vacations to outdoorsy places where makeup would only interfere, and I realized how easy it was to pack for my trip when I wasn’t taking makeup. I quit packing makeup on virtually all vacations.
Then COVID hit, and I was working from home and not going out except for walks in the cemetery where no one cared how I looked. And I started to realize I didn’t care that much anymore either.
Not that I let myself go and stopped all grooming. I just no longer felt the need to get dolled up before I could be seen in public. I felt myself start to blossom out from under the weight of NEEDING to wear makeup. I was putting myself out there without the force field of confidence and beauty I had been hiding behind for years.
When we went back to the office, I no longer wanted to spend twenty minutes putting on a face that would only need washed back off that night. I no longer wanted to stop and ask myself if it was okay to rub my eye without smearing my mascara. I no longer wanted to go through the trouble of decorating a face that would only be hidden behind a mask anyway.
I found I had more time in the mornings to take an extra long walk with my husband. I wasn’t putting mascara on at stoplights in a mad rush to get to work on time in full battle gear. I was just me. Me with the curly hair I was born with, no more damaging straighteners to tame my hair into something it isn’t. Me with the face I was born with, with all its discolorations and imperfections.
But something else was happening too. I was no longer hiding behind a brushed and finished face. At first, it was terrifying. I worried people would think I had quit caring about my appearance, that I was lazy or behind the times. I had no choice but to rely on myself and what I believed about myself when I faced the world. I felt as stripped bare as my face. All I had left to offer was myself – my skills and abilities and those qualities that make me who I am and what I bring to the table.
And I have felt more confident and secure than I have ever felt before in my life.
I still love makeup and will wear it whenever I want. But I will never again wear it out of necessity. It will never again be my source of confidence.
I am a child of the Most High God, created in his image and for his glory. He has a purpose for me that extends far beyond how pretty others may find me, and I will rest in that as I make my way in this world.
With or without makeup.