June has come and gone, which means that I will be finishing the No Makeup challenge and moving on to next month’s adventure! Before I tell you about next month’s challenge, I would like to wrap-up June with some final lessons and my makeup plan for the future.
Overall, the no makeup challenge was much easier than I thought it would be. Going into the challenge, I really thought I would hate it. I felt so sure that there would be days that I didn’t even want to look in the mirror for fear of what I would see. But, delightfully, those dreaded days never came to pass. On any given day, my feelings towards my appearance might be happiness, pleasant acceptance, beaming confidence, general plainness, or indifference. My feelings never dipped below indifference – or if they did, it was for such a tiny flash of time that I didn’t register it consciously. I didn’t feel ugly. I didn’t feel flawed. I did feel imperfect, but blissfully so. Overwhelmingly, I felt gratitude. I felt closer to myself, and I repeatedly enjoyed showing that pure, unaltered side of myself to the world. And, dare I say it, I think I finally believe that though I’m not perfect, I really am beautiful.
I think this challenge has taught me some general lessons that I would like to share, because I think they really can apply to everyone. You don’t need to deprive yourself of makeup for a month to learn these lessons, but that’s what it took for me. I hope my experience can remind you of some general truths that you can use, even if only for a moment, to brighten your day.
You’re stronger than you think.
Throughout the challenge, I had people commenting that “they could never do that” or “wow, I would never make it a whole month.” People would also say things like, “you can get away with it, but I need makeup” (which is exactly what I would say before I started the challenge). To everyone who thinks they couldn’t do this challenge, or to anyone who has ever had a voice in the back of their head saying “You can’t,” I want to remind you that YOU CAN. You absolutely can. You are beautiful enough. You are smart enough. You are strong enough. You are disciplined enough. You are enough.
You are your own worst critic.
This one is pretty self explanatory. I can say, with certainty, that no one is scrutinizing you to the same degree that you are scrutinizing yourself. And if they are, ditch that pit of negative energy from your life. No one sees your flaws in the same way you do. That pimple on your forehead? It is not as big as you think it is. Those gray hairs? They are not as noticeable as you think they are. The wrinkles or brown spots? They do not age to as much as you think they do. This brings me to my next point…
No one else can take care of you like you can
You’re the best person to take care of yourself. You are with yourself all the time. You have spent your entire life getting to know yourself. You know how you think, what you want, what you’re afraid of, what you love, how you feel. You have the power to catch your own thoughts as they are happening. You have the power to challenge yourself. You have the power to validate yourself. Taking care of yourself starts with you. For a while now, I have been trying to get in the habit of taking care of myself. One of the habits I have been trying to practice is stopping negative thoughts. Whenever I have a negative thought about myself, I stop the thought and ask myself, “Would I say that to my best friend?” If the answer is no, and the answer almost always no, I do away with that thought and try to replace it with a friendlier version. Think about it – if you wouldn’t say something to someone you care about, why would you say it to yourself? During the no makeup challenge, this habit of self-care was invaluable.
Like most things, beauty is a feeling – and you can’t buy it.
I think we are often told that with the right product, we can become more beautiful. We buy makeup to highlight and cover up. But the make up itself is not the thing that makes us beautiful. We feel beautiful due to the feeling we get after we’ve put it on. We feel not beautiful because of the feelings we have when we go without it. But we’ve convinced ourselves of a reality that is confusing the cause and effect of makeup. Feelings (and habit) are what drive us to put on makeup in the first place. And in the process of putting on makeup (which is so much fun!), we transform those feelings. After our makeup is on, we feel beautiful. But makeup did not make us beautiful. It made us feel beautiful. In other words, make up is only a tool for transforming negative feelings into positive ones. You can buy makeup – but you’re not buying beauty. Beauty is a feeling. So you’re buying a tool, a way to access a feeling. And there are many ways to access a feeling; makeup is just one of them. Going without makeup forced me to find other tools, other ways to access the feeling of beauty. After a month, I didn’t need a tool, I just felt it.
The personal is political
Once again, the old feminist mantra rings true. In giving up makeup, I was giving up on a social practice that costs me hundreds of dollars, countless hours, and a ton of physical and mental energy every year. I also forewent participating in an industry that profits from cultivating then ‘solving’ women’s insecurities. I withdrew from a ritual that is taxing on the environment, unhealthy for my skin, and perpetuating of unattainable beauty standards. I disrupted the gendered, biased expectation that a woman needs makeup in order to look professional or competent. I rejected commonly held beliefs about what a woman needs or how a woman should feel. Our personal lives are entrenched within a web of social, political, cultural, and economic causes and consequences. This is something I’ve always known, but going without make up has strengthened my resolve.
Going forward, I think my makeup routine will look a lot different. I’m not exactly sure about the details, but I’m fairly certain that my daily makeup will consist of a BB cream and some mascara. This will be a dramatic departure from the tinted moisturizer/concealer/foundation/tinted eye cream/pressed powder/bronzer/blush/eyeliner/mascara routine I had before. I’ll only go all out like that when I’m going somewhere nice for the evening. For one, I don’t want all that crap on my face for hours on end! And all that makeup starts looking cakey and gross after a few hours anyway. So no more!
In concluding June’s challenge, I just want to say thank you to all of you who have followed along and supported me this month. Your support means the world to me!
Who’s ready for next month’s challenge?!?!
Next month’s challenge is going to disrupt my daily habits and technologically transport me back in time. For the month of July, I’ll have to go without something that has almost become biologically attached to my body. I use it for hours every day. I communicate with it. I procrastinate with it. I go to bed with it, and wake up with it. It is always with me, and I can’t imagine my life without it. You guessed it, next month I’ll be giving up my iPhone for Not-So-Smartphone July. Stay tuned for more details!!