I can remember when I first started wearing makeup. My mom, aunt and grandma were always very nicely put together with flattering makeup and accessories, and I remember that giddy feeling in my stomach when I looked in the mirror and felt like I was starting to look like them when I added a little mascara. My friends were starting to wear it too, and I was very pleased to know I would be included in this new stage of womanhood. It can all seem very harmless, and it felt that way to me at the time. But the problem is that this was the stage in my young life that my entire body was changing. Everything about the way I looked and how much I cared about the perceptions of my peers was changing. This is where the problem originally begins with makeup. It isn’t about a style preference or even whether or not you chose to wear makeup; it’s about the deceptive notion that we need makeup to be complete. We establish a love for ourselves at a young age based upon an appearance that isn’t truly who we are.
I was the extreme example of this problem. I couldn’t stand to see myself without makeup until I was almost 20 years old. I used to reapply makeup at sleepovers. I would wear it to field hockey camp in spite of the sweat that would force it to burn my eyes. I would edit my photos for hours to fit my expectation of blur on my skin and contrast on my eyes and lips. I would sneak away in the mornings of vacations before my high school boyfriend would wake up so that I could put makeup on before he had a chance to see what I truly looked like in the morning. I never saw any problem with this at the time. Now, it inspires an instant lump in my throat. I learned to love an image in the mirror with more defined eyes and even toned skin. That was the only me I wanted to see. I never learned to love what I really look like. Even now, when I close my eyes and imagine how I look and how other people see me, I imagine myself with makeup on. Many of you reading this probably do as well. It’s a problem, and one that begins when we are girls. We start wearing makeup before we even have a chance to know who we are without it, let alone love who we are without it.
Most girls didn’t grow up with quite the dependence that I once had, but many are guilty of thinking that a clean face is an empty one. However, the most severe of our crimes are passing those feelings on to young girls when they are trying to establish self-love. Many reading this would be embarrassed to be seen at the store by someone they know without their makeup on. Many reading this have felt the need to cover up their wrinkles, blemishes and anything deemed an imperfection. Many reading this have seen a person who normally wears makeup without it and felt they looked wrong. The truth is that being without makeup isn’t backwards and wrong, our mindsets are. It isn’t about whether or not you choose to wear makeup; it’s about the reasons that you do so.
Understand the grave importance of establishing a love for yourself. If you are a mother or a female role model of any kind, the moment that you start allowing a young girl to wear makeup is not a fun little milestone, it’s a responsibility. If you give that kind of influence to someone trying to build their confidence amongst all of the other changes with their body and peers, there can be powerful effects. Start with yourself. I’ve learned that with every passing day I can make little changes to love who I am more. I now intentionally decide not to wear make-up on some days. When I first started dating my boyfriend, I decided to go make-up less right away instead of be ashamed like I was when I was younger. I’ve started wearing less of it and introducing my true face to the people around me because make-up needs to be a choice and not a necessity. I do this because I know in my heart I deserve that confidence, and because I never want my own insecurities to effect women of any age that are in my life, including my future daughters. I want to keep changing for the better and inspire all strong and beautiful women to do the same. Let people love you for who you are underneath. You don’t have to cut makeup out of your life completely; you just have to live with the mindset that it is addition to your beauty, not something that is necessary to complete it. Pass that confidence on to your daughters and nieces. Pass it on to your friends. Keep it in your soul and let it shine through your true beauty.