Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
I used to work in the theater world. I was trained how to do my own face and then became pretty good at doing so for others. To keep up, I freelanced for a make up line and did plenty of weddings, proms, senior pictures. What that means is that I had to learn to be fashion forward, it also usually meant a full face of make up every day. That was the norm. It wasn't until recently that my perspective changed.
#the first step is admitting you ave a problem
First of all, I admit I was all about covering up all of my imperfections. Did you know that I have freckles, Life? I do! And for the longest time, they just wouldn't do. So, me and my foundation became besties. When the foundation wasn't enough, I used concealer. When the concealer and the foundation wasn't enough, I used whatever I needed for contouring. When the concealer and the foundation and the contouring shadows (and the partridge in a pear tree) weren't enough, there was always a highlighter or a serum to add to whatever I was going for. I admit it. I am a recovering makeupaholic. Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE a good smokey eye...and I've not gone completely buck naturalist...just more minimalist...and when I do a full face, it's just not every day. I was using make up to hide...and I don't want to hide any more.
I work with a group of primarily Latina women who handle the production element of our business. Every day they come through my hall, and I notice their distinctions. I notice how strikingly lovely they are, exposed skin sans makeup, and just gloss and mascara. This was a novel realization for me. They wear this beautiful skin...make up in this environment doesn't make sense. It gets hot. It's humid. All of that effort will melt off through the day...so they do without. And they're gorgeous.
You know when you go on vacation to a tropical place, and you spend a day warm on the sand, and then you realize you've been kissed by the sun? The truth is that your foundation is now two shades too light, and buying a full container of this new shade is ridiculous because you'll only be said shade for a few weeks, unless you get darker because you're a sun worshipper now, and then you have to start the whole process over again because the darker shade is now too light again (or not red enough to properly match your new-found hue), but also the salt water and sun have given you a golden glow that you don't want to spackle over. Everyone else is golden brown, so it's cool to do as the natives do, right? It's also a good thing to let it linger as long as possible...like holding on to the vacay for a week longer. (Or wish that you were in another tropical place...like...Tahiti, please.)
#chem burn, I mean, peel
I found a groupon for a dermaplane that sounded interesting. I hadn't really ever done any kind of devoted esthetician services before. I love a good facial (it actually does more for me that a massage), it's just not something that I can always afford all the time (I would go every week if I could). When I went to the dermaplane, the lady told me about how much my skin would deeply benefit from a chem peel. I figured she knew what she was talking about...even if it was from a sales pitch angle. I totally took it for granted, didn't ask the right questions, didn't research other kinds of peels, didn't realize there are huge variances in products, in application, in reaction...my skin kinda took it...and then didn't...and it created more of a mess for me than the flawless skin the gal had assured me would be the end result. Even almost a year after, I still have all kinds of fun pigmentation that surfaced a bit, but not enough to go away, that wasn't there before...so now gentle freckles are more like undeniable sploches. In order for me to achieve a 'flawless' look, it takes ALOT of coverage...when then makes me feel like I could rake off my foundation. Yuck. The good news is that I found a skin healer of sorts who, over a number of months, and natural product, has vastly improved the condition of my skin. I may venture into the peel waters again...maybe, but this time, I'll know my stuff.
#can't I just be me?
I turned the big 4-1 this year. No matter what road I take, I keep coming back to this place where I question myself about where these practices/habits/choices will lead me. I feel like I want to reach a place where I can keep peeling things OFF (worries, hiding, blah blah blah).
Once upon a time, I was a missionary in Romania for a year and a half. I entered the country with two huge, stuffed, purple duffle bags. I was 23. I had traveled all over the US, but this was new. I hadn't really experienced the full extent of seasons (being both a Hawaiian and a Southern Californian native) and I knowingly overpacked because I was (unreasonably) terrified of literally freezing to death. (Once, it was so cold on a long winter night, that my eyelashes, and wisps of hair that were sticking out of my hat froze solid. It freaked me out!)
When a new missionary is in the missionary training center (MTC), there's always a new group coming in every week (as finishing groups head out to their respective cities and countries). The MTC president always used to remind us NOT to help incoming missionaries with their luggage. It would be the only way they would realize that they had too much stuff. Still, I NEEDED MY STUFF! BAD! So, I pridefully, stubbornly, exhaustedly, lugged (more like, dead lifted) those snazzy (non-roller bottomed) duffle bags through Bucuresti, and Sibiu, and Timisoara. I don't know...maybe it was a way for me to hold on to things back home...maybe it was because the reality was that I was far from home, speaking a language that made me sound like I was 2 years old. These THINGS were helpful in a way that it allowed me some familiarity as I eased into the work and the culture...and then, as time went by, I was ready to let things go little by little. By the time I was coming home, I came back with half a bag. I came home in June, so, I knew I would never need my FAT winter coat again. (I did, however, bring home my pea coat (which I still have).) Everything else, I pretty much let go of. I gave my running shoes to a lady I had become close to. She used to comment on them when she saw me wear them. I think I had bright pink accents on them and she was all about it. I also gave her daughter a number of dresses. They would use them...and that made me happy. As I become more comfortable with myself, with my purpose...I didn't need to cling (gripping, veins popping out) to all of this STUFF. The material became kind of irrelevant. And the things that were important weren't things at all - they were people. And it was beautiful.
#it's not a destination
I want to come to a place in my life today (despite all of the reasons why I've been hiding) where I can feel secure and lovely and totally in acceptance of self without any interference. I want to be able to feel lovely without a stitch of make up on...the reality is that in a workplace, it just makes me look tired, so I accept that I'm not QUITE there, but it's the direction I want to move toward. I think the exercise, though, is about becoming more self-real, no matter what the path that gets me there. The ultimate objective is about having a sincere, healthy self-relationship/image and becoming stronger. Look, how many beautiful men do you know that need concealer? Other than drag queens (they're not in this particular equation)? And not movie stars either that have been made up. I'm talking about that guy that you cross paths with every so often at the store or wherever. If men can be beautiful without makeup, why do we as women need it to "look our best"? Granted, there are days when we need a little help and those tools are available. I'm not talking about those instances. I'm talking about everyday putting on a thick facade in order to feel beautiful. I think it's the person that radiates through...and all of the external put-on is icing. Yeah, ok, sometimes the icing is the best part...in this example, I'm telling you, it's the cake that is exceptional. Really, all that matters is that YOU think so. That's where I'm trying to go.