When does mascara become a mask, and shimmer a shield?
I’ve been trying to be more in tune to my makeup usage lately. As you can see in my last Style Tuesday post, I’ve been opting to go sans-mascara more lately. That’s also called “naked and totally unprepared for the world” in my head, all too often. Strawberry hair means strawberry eyelashes, and mascara was a security blanket in insecure teen years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the camp that inherently has a moral issue to makeup. It’s is a great tool for expressing creativity, and it gives a confidence boost when you’re not quite there yet to brave it naturally. There’s a difference between wanting it and needing it. That being said, I’ve been spending more days putting down the brush recently, in hopes of forcing myself to explore face why a “naked face” makes me uncomfortable. I can honestly say, the first few times were rougher than I expected.
I felt more shy and reserved, being less than eager to draw attention to myself. I connected wearing mascara with being less vulnerable. I come from a Southern family, and we joke that generations of our women have learned to put on lipstick to go to the mailbox. Southern women especially connect a perfect pout with being in control, dark eyelashes with having it together, and a swipe of blush as an act of common courtesy. Why is that? Why is it that the first thing we do when meeting a friend for coffee is apologize for it being “a laundry day” or for “being in a rush this morning?” Why can’t we just be present?
I think part of it is the expectation (usually self-imposed), that women have to always be givers. We have to have it all together, all the time. Perform, perform, perform. Mascara isn’t actually the problem. It’s the idea that we have to constantly be perfectly pulled together, in all aspects of life. 1 Peter 5:6-7 reminds us to “Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” How can we be humble if we’re always trying to prove our own responsibility and perfection? How can we leave our worries with Him if we’ve instead created a shield around our faces and hearts?
Forcing myself to go out and be comfortable with a bare face has helped me to leave less space for fear and pride, and more space for honesty. That honestly isn’t about makeup at all, but with my heart. No, I am not perfect, and today I am refusing to pretend I am. After those first few days, I felt more of myself than less, whether wearing mascara or not. I am learning to embrace the value of my personhood being enough simply because I am His, no matter what I do, what I say, or what I look like.
Will I go makeup free most days? Probably not. But rather than feeling an obligation to the world to perform in just one more way through my appearance, I can (finally) honestly say that it’s because I love a morning ritual, and the happy creativity it inspires.