January 2018 arrived full of anticipation and nerves. I had decided back in October to challenge some of my students to a “No Makeup Challenge” for the entire month of January. The idea was to get girls out of their comfort zone of wearing makeup everyday, and use that time it usually takes to get ready to instead make declarations over themselves in the mirror, spend time with Jesus, and basically use their time to focus on other things (besides their appearance). The idea caught on and eventually over 30 women and girls decided to take the challenge together, including myself. I expected for it to be hard, but I was determined to stick with it, anticipating some level of breakthrough in self love and viewing myself with kindness.
It had been over 15 years since I started wearing makeup, and I couldn’t remember a time I had consciously left my house without a stitch of makeup on. From the time my mom allowed me to wear makeup, I jumped on the bandwagon and fell in love with it! From clear mascara in 6th grade, to blue eyeshadow in middle school, to dreaming about owning every “Naked” eyeshadow palette and wearing fake lashes. If it was for my face, I wanted it. What started as something fun, turned into a necessity, a security blanket, and a thing I felt I couldn’t live without. Starting the challenge of giving it up for 31 days caused me realise, I not only loved wearing makeup, but I actually had bought into the lie that my bare, makeup-free face was not beautiful or attractive. In essence, I had begun to believe that I was actually not beautiful, rather, that makeup was what helped me to be beautiful. In theory I believed that beauty came from the inside out, but day-to-day, as January 1st arrived, what I truly believed about myself and my appearance, hit me like a ton of bricks. I strolled into the 31 days knowing it would be hard, listening to everyone tell me it would be hard, expecting it to be hard, and then experiencing it and thinking “I can’t believe this is so hard”
For the first two weeks, I daily felt the weight of insecurity, and had a million thoughts running through my head that were not loving or kind. I assumed each day that I looked terrible, or sick, or like I had been crying; like my skin was uneven, like every person in the room was staring down the zit that had popped up on my face that morning. If I could only use a little bit of concealer, or mascara, then I would feel okay about myself. I began to realise that I held the keys to beauty. And they weren’t concealer or mascara. As I looked in the mirror, in my head I said things like “you look like a mess”, “your pores are huge”, “your eyes are too small” … I was cursing myself with my words, and declaring that all those things were true. The camaraderie of other women made a world of difference as we supported each other and cheered each other on each day. The craziest thing is that I wasn’t looking at anyone else and thinking those things. I looked at every other makeup-free face and thought “wow, she’s so beautiful”! Being beautiful from the inside out and loving myself had everything to do with my self-talk. Positive self-talk was THE key to unlocking that big ugly door called insecurity.
My first real moment of breakthrough happened in my car, driving to my first appointment of the day. I looked in the mirror, and even though I didn’t believe it, I declared out loud “I am beautiful! I am stunning! I am approachable! I am full of joy! This day is going to be amazing”! The moment I said those things out loud, it felt like something shifted in my brain. I went into the day with those words running through my mind, instead of the opposite, negative thoughts.
Each day I began making positive declarations over myself, about who I am as a person, and how beautiful I am. By day 16, I wasn’t even thinking about how I looked. I stopped curling my eyelashes each day, quit worrying about the zit on my face, and just started living with confidence that I am beautiful with or without makeup.
After 31 days of abandoning my makeup bag, I’ll admit, I still love makeup. I love how I feel when I wear it. I love it as a creative expression. I love that everyday, I get to start my day getting creative, and feeling beautiful. As I begin wearing makeup again, I’ll put it on knowing that I’m beautiful because it’s who I am.
As someone who values beauty in all its forms, I was doing myself a disservice believing that I myself wasn’t beautiful without the help of makeup. The truth is, who I am is beautiful, and all the makeup in the world can’t bring out what isn’t already on the inside. No amount of positive encouragement from others, or kind comments on Instagram could change my view of myself. I had to take the journey of discovery on my own, and learn that beauty is an inside job.