On March 5th, while many were giving up the basic vices for Lent: sweets, alcohol, soda, shopping, fried foods, etc., I decided to give up something I thought I really couldn’t live without just short of food and water. Especially considering in previous years I just gave up vegetables, as a joke. Lent serves as a good test of will regardless of your religion affiliation — for starters, I’m not even Catholic, but I had a bad habit I needed to break.
So, I gave up make-up for Lent.
With the exception of the few times I’d have to get dolled up for work as a host/emcee, such as with on-stage or on-camera appearances where I’m contractually representing a brand or company other than myself … and they’re paying for a spokesmodel, not a zombie. But everywhere I went from social events and parties, to dinners and job interviews was done barefaced with all my flaws exposed. But in turn I found out what beauty really is.
From the days of adolescent insecurities I thought make-up transformed me from the girl next door into a cheerleader. My make-up bag could rival that of a clown’s with HD friendly foundation and enough shades of eyeshadow and brushes to stock a paint studio. I even turned my old morning radio station office into a dressing room and would not leave the studio without putting make-up on (because I’m not that vain that I needed to at 4am). But for 40 some days I showed the world the true me — shiny forehead, dark spots and circles under my eyes, zits, and all.
Why? …. Because I needed to come to terms with the fact I was created good enough, naturally.
The first day of this make-up fast happened to fall on the night of a big fashion show in Charlotte. So I broke out a fancy little dress, and while shaving thirty minutes off my getting-ready-routine by skipping the face painting, I still managed to be late trying to accessorize and do my hair to make up for my lack of make-up. At first I was really insecure about being out with no make-up on, so I felt the need to tell everyone I saw that I gave up make-up for Lent to validate why I was less attractive. I learned to be even more self-deprecating; “The bags under my eyes are Coach,” I joked to call myself out for the dark, puffy circles under my eyes that I usually use creams, primer, concealer, foundation, and powder to cover.
The second week of the make-up fast I went to one of the Charlotte Bobcats last games before they transformed into the Hornets. When I entered the arena I saw my friend LauRen who’s a dancer for the team. And while she was in full game-day make-up and looking like she’d just stepped out of a magazine, I felt like I was standing there naked next to her. I went from being outspoken to shy in demeanor – all because I felt insecure. Then it hit me…I’d never felt insecure next to a pretty girl before – and there I was, letting the fact I left my make-up at home cause me to leave my sense of self-worth there with it. And I’d even seen her without make-up on before and she looked just as pretty without it – perhaps because she’s sweet and always smiling. So I quit thinking about my naked face and dressed it with a smile, and as soon as I forgot I wasn’t wearing make-up, everyone else seemed to also.
I realized I was just wearing make-up to cover up my insecurities. So after a while I just owned it – this is me, not photo-shopped in the flesh. I was even photographed while creating my own hotdog at JJ’s Red Hots sans make-up, and the picture ended up in USA Today. And the embarrassing part came not from being in a national publication with no make-up on, but it being a picture of me taking a selfie while eating a hotdog.
As it turned out, my paranoia was residing where most insecurities we have do…in the head. People didn’t even notice I wasn’t wearing make-up unless I brought it up. Well, they didn’t tell me so at least. Not because I’m a natural beauty or anything … in fact, it has nothing to do with me. No woman really needs make-up to be pretty; it just makes us feel prettier. Truth is, all you really need to accessorize with is a smile and confidence. It’s only cliché because it’s true: beauty truly is only skin deep as it comes from within, not without. Besides, someone else’s opinion on whether or not you’re attractive in their eyes has no affect on your life. What you see in the mirror is merely a reflection of how you see yourself.