I’ve Become Enslaved…Now What?
When I wrote my post When Beauty Enslave Instead of Enhances, I had no idea a number of people it would resonate with. All I knew was that God had placed it on my heart to share my own struggles with self-image and makeup free living. But since then, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on ways to give my readers the how behind breaking free. How did God lead me to the point where I’m at? How can women learn to love the skin God gave them with or without makeup? How can I better help women in this journey? The thoughts are still germinating in my brain (with dreams of even writing a book someday), but for now here are some steps to help you along the way to Makeup Free Beauty.
Ask Yourself the Question: Why am I wearing my Makeup?
Before I begin, I want to repeat my disclaimer from my original article. I do not in any way feel that makeup is evil. I’m not gonna lie, I love dressing up and feeling like a “million bucks.” But there is a problem when we women feel compelled to wear makeup each day as if we’re not enough without it. The next time you start your daily makeup routine, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Is it because you just felt like a little extra something, much like choosing a special outfit? Or, is it because you feel inadequate? Because you’re trying to hide those unseemly blemishes, the dark spots under your eyes…in short to “make up” for your imperfections?
Breaking free from the Lies
If you fall into the latter category, then you’ve got a problem. Because by thinking something is wrong with your complexion, facial structure, or whatever, you are also saying that God messed up. Do not believe the lies of the evil one. We are each made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
“For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
The desire of my heart is for every woman to rest in the security of knowing that she was created by a loving God who does not make mistakes. A God who envisioned everything about her and planned out every single one of her features since the beginning of time:
“You are beautiful in every way, my darling, there is no flaw in you!” (Song of Songs 4:7).
But like I mentioned earlier, this is a process and it takes time. We’ve all drunk the Kool-aid, as they say, and have been brainwashed into believing secular ideas of beauty. So be patient with yourself and resist the temptation toward extremities. The goal isn’t to permanently banish makeup or any other kind of adornment from your life, but rather to have a proper perspective on them; to see them as optional enhancements rather than necessities.
Learn to See Yourself as God’s Beloved
Before the makeup issue can even be tackled, it’s important to get to the root of our insecurities; to learn to love yourself in a healthy way; to admire the good that is in you. For so much of my life, I’ve remained focused on what’s bad in me. But true holiness doesn’t rest in tearing ourselves down, but rather in seeing ourselves honestly. This means admiring our beauty and talents, giving glory to God for them, and acknowledging the vices in our lives that we need God’s grace to eradicate. It means seeing the beauty within us, both externally and internally.
My beloved Edith Stein wrote: “Woman’s soul is present and lives more intensely in all parts of the body, and it is inwardly affected by that which happens to the body.” Through these words, the canonized saint reminds us of the intimate connection between our bodies and our souls. Our perception of our bodies affects our perception of our self-worth, and vice versa.
What Makeup Free Living has Taught Me
As I’ve grown to the point where I feel confident being makeup-free, I’ve had several startling realizations. Suddenly my skin seems so much more beautiful and vibrant. I don’t know if this is because my perception has changed or if it is because in the absence of makeup I’ve been motivated to take better care of my skin. Either way, I see it as a win as I’ve learned to better appreciate and become a better steward of the body that God has given me.
I’ve also learned that my environment greatly affects my self-perception. For example, if I’m around other moms who are more natural in their makeup and appearance I also feel confident. Whereas when I’m around women who are dressed more fashionably, wear more expensive jewelry and are well made up, I feel dowdy and out of place. I’m so easily drawn into the comparison game. When this happens (as it did to me just recently), I try to acknowledge it to myself and to pray my way through it; to admire the beauty and find things in others without allowing it to taint my self-image.
The best way I can think of it is through imagining different flowers. Though a daisy isn’t nearly as elaborate as a rose, both have a unique beauty that is irreplaceable. This is far truer of us women. Too often we get caught up in the comparison game instead of acknowledging and praising God for one another’s beauty.
To concretely combat this temptation, I’ve begun trying to be more intentional in my compliments. Instead of looking at other’s beauty or accessories and feeling inadequate, I make a point of verbally complimenting them. My thoughts are then transformed from that of self-absorption to other-oriented; makes them positive instead of negative. And in the process, hopefully, I’ve brightened someone else’s day.
Allowing our Feminine Genius to Shine Forth
To each of you going through this journey know that you remain in my heart and in my prayers. The world tells us so many lies about what it means to be a woman and what defines beauty, and it can be overwhelming discovering your true identity. I think this is true of all of us, young and old alike. But together and through God’s grace, we can allow our feminine genius to shine, transforming the world in the process.