June’s challenge is going to be tricky for me. I’m not going to wear any makeup for an entire month. I know that for many this might not seem like a big deal, but for me IT IS. I wear makeup nearly every day. I certainly wear it whenever I do anything in public beyond going to the gym or grocery store. On any given day, here is what I’m most likely wearing on my face (yes, ALL of them):
Makeup is part of my routine and part of my identity, but not necessarily for the best reasons (stay tuned for my personal history with makeup in a future post).
My roommate, Elisa, dreamed up this month’s challenge. To understand her reasons for deciding on this challenge, and what exactly it would entail, I sat her down for a little interview. Here’s what she had to say:
Erica: So what I’ve learned from the No Coffee challenge is that the rules need to be specific and the motivations behind each challenge need to be clear. So let’s start with motivations. You chose the No Makeup challenge, why?
Elisa: I chose this challenge because I’ve lived with you for five months now; I see your habits, you see my habits, and as you know I don’t wear makeup. The world of makeup is fascinating to me. I didn’t grow up exposed to it, I don’t know how to apply it, what the rules are, I don’t really know much about it. I’m fascinated by it and in a lot of ways I reject it for myself. I pay a lot of attention to beauty standards and how they are unfair for women. I buy into some of them and don’t buy into others. Obviously it’s easier to reject the ones I didn’t grow up with. I’ve seen you without makeup, and… are you wearing makeup right now?
Elisa: See I had to ask you. You look beautiful, nobody would look at you and think, “Wow, she needs apply makeup.” Makeup is an enhancer. I guess people wear makeup for different reasons. As your friend I would want you to have the confidence to feel beautiful without it. I guess this challenge is a unique way for me to rebel too, kind of vicariously. But I think this is also to help you focus on the feelings that you have without makeup. You already know the feelings you have with it on – its part of your routine, it’s a standard you’ve set for how you look. I think you’ll find what makeup may be masking for you. There might not be much to that, there might be a lot. We don’t know.
Erica: So what are the rules for the challenge?
Elisa: Well you have to agree to them. But I guess the rules are everyday you can put on sunscreen or moisturizer. I don’t want to wreck your skin through this. But not the tinted moisturizer that you have. No tinted lip stuff. Chapstick, Burt’s Bees, lip balm are okay.
Erica: What about lipgloss?
Elisa: Nope. And if you want to make an exception to wear makeup I was thinking we could have a pre-set number of times you could wear makeup so that if you have something important… But I don’t know though. Because is there anything so important that you have to wear makeup? I would rather talk about it and see why you feel like you needed makeup in that situation. So you’d have to dissect why you want that and have a reflection.
Erica: Okay so no makeup at all for the month.
Elisa: Yeah. And if you feel like there’s something dire where you absolutely need makeup I want you to sit with those feelings and I want you to discuss them and we’ll come up with a solution.
Erica: So last question, at the end of June what are you hoping I’ll learn from this experience?
Elisa: At the very least a higher awareness of your own motivations for wearing makeup. You’re already pretty aware of unfair beauty standards, so I don’t think you’re going to have epiphanies on how unfair it is that women are compelled to wear makeup. That will probably be confirmed in a more experiential way. But maybe this will allow you to not have to wear makeup every day. And maybe more faith in the beauty that you have without it. To feel beautiful and confident without makeup and not feel nasty or incomplete.
There was more to our conversation. To keep me accountable, I am going to hand over my makeup to Elisa on June 1 and she is going to take it away and return it to me on June 3o. Like anything, if I falter I will have to reflect on it. Some of the things that Elisa and I would both like to see me reflect on in the next month are:
- My personal history with makeup and my own motivations for wearing it.
- The change in my routine (time now gained by not spending it applying makeup)
- How I feel being makeup-free in different settings and situations
- How much money I spend maintaining my makeup collection
- Reflections on beauty, both inner and outer
So stay tuned, friends. If I thought May’s No-Coffee challenge was tricky, June is going to be a doozy.