5.9

10 Steps to Liberate Yourself from Makeup. ~ Tifany Lee

I stopped wearing makeup a couple of years ago. I just quit.

I had begun to recognize the disturbing quality of makeup to slide down my aging face—the makeup just didn’t sit on the skin like it did when I was young. My lipstick seeped into the lines around my mouth. You could still see my blemishes, I just had foundation layered upon them. I wondered if I was highlighting my skin problems instead of hiding them. I began to wonder if my makeup just looked like I was painting my insecurities about aging prominently where everyone could see them: on my face.

And my hair…always the bane of my existence, my hair was even frizzier than normal somehow. I realized—with horror—that my gray hair was a different texture from my brunette locks, and while I could cover the color up, I couldn’t cover up the texture. I began to look around and see twenty-year-old hair everywhere. I began to wonder: what am I so afraid of? Haven’t I worked hard for every gray hair, every wrinkle, every year that I have survived this life? Why is my age something I am supposed to try and hide? Or, why are we trying to hide our age when it is obvious to everyone that we are older? What if I flaunted it?

My mission became to make my life beautiful. I wanted people to admire my beautiful life.

My first venture out into the world without makeup was a lesson in humility. Suddenly, I saw myself as everyone around me saw me already—a forty year old woman. I continued to go without makeup even when it hurt. In the following weeks and months, I came to accept and come to terms with my age. And I did it in public.

Cut to the present moment. I was putting my now salt and pepper hair up for an event, grateful as always that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on my outward appearance. My reflection revealed a different person than the one who stopped wearing makeup several years ago. I marveled at the gray hair that had now fully grown out. Wow! It’s like God’s highlights. And people call me ma’am. I like it. It’s respect. But strangely, I feel more now like I did when I was a child: unencumbered. Wild. Free. My face reflects that. How stupid I have been—to think that anyone would look so closely at my skin. I paint my face with my emotion now.

I had a conversation with my niece recently about beauty and skin care and tried to impart to her the meaninglessness of makeup and the importance of cultivating ideals of greater worth than physical beauty. She is a young teenager and is reveling in the mirror. My heart aches when I think about her making the same mistakes that I have made. This list is dedicated to her.

Ten Steps to Liberate Yourself from Makeup—or, How to Build a Beautiful Life:

1. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of you.

Really. Anybody. Just don’t even worry about it.

I know that you have heard this countless times before, but you’ve never really let go of caring what people think until you’ve quit your makeup routine.

2. Be an individual.

Nobody has your lips. Okay, maybe your sister has your lips…and maybe they aren’t even your lips—they’re your mom’s—but no one has your unique combination of traits. Why muck up this perfection of uniqueness by smearing the same lipstick on your face as millions of other women? Worship yourself, not an outside ideal.

3. Focus on your body.

I loved slathering makeup on my face but loathed getting up and moving my body. Looking back, I can’t believe how out of whack my priorities have always been until the moment that I stopped wearing makeup. I used to lounge around like a couch potato—my spine curved like an old cane. My shoulders caved in, my heart hidden and cast down from the world. But my eyes were painted perfectly! So at least there was that… Now, I revel in moving my body. I don’t have to worry about what my makeup is doing. I get physical. My body looks great now that I don’t focus on my face.

4. Wear your glasses.

Wearing my glasses might have been more difficult than going without makeup, but I did it anyway. I saved on the expense of contacts, the discomfort and the consumption of time. I wake up now and I am ready to go!

Men try to pick me up with compliments like, You must be really smart. It is ridiculous, but I answer back, Why, yes. I am! I attribute the glasses as a large reason for the added respect I receive from everyone everywhere I go. Gray hair + glasses = being treated politely. What could be better than that? Which leads me to the next step:

5. Grow your gray out.

An older woman with a dye job looks like just that: an older woman with a dye job. Everyone knows how old you are even if you cover up the gray. They just do.

6. Cultivate your relationships instead.

Start by stopping your daily gaze into the mirror. Just stop. It is a colossal waste of time besides having serious overtones of vanity and self-absorption. You will have more time to build your beautiful life. Spend your time looking at other people and how beautiful they are!

Don’t you think that your best friend is absolutely beautiful? Even without makeup? Don’t you think she might think the same thing about you? Enough said. Spend time with each other, not by yourself with your mirror.

Or fall in love. WIth your husband. All over again. Love can really capture the glow in the skin better than any fake blush can. Also, it’s nice to remember that your significant other could care less about your makeup.

7. Save some money.

Let go of the last stronghold of conspicuous consumption: the beauty industry. I’m sorry that the object-based market society will fail. Sorry. I don’t think that it was really thought through in the first place, so…I don’t know what to say L’Oreal, Maybeliine and Cover Girl, but, Buh-Bye!

8. Connect with your childhood self.

Remember her? Wasn’t she exquisite? And excited about life? And smart?

And beautiful?

9. Cultivate beauty in action.

Spend all of that time and money that you would have spent on your physical appearance and do some good in the world. Or build your wildest dream. Or live out a fantasy. Beauty is a whole being, not the individual parts.

10. Be a role model.

The most important reason. The only reason.

What could the lives of the women that we protect under our wings look like in twenty years if we all let go of makeup? Wouldn’t this alone change the world? Gender relations? Wake feminism from its sleeping slumber?

Show the women in your life and the world that you think that you—and they—are good enough just as you are. Build your beautiful life and people will admire you all day, every day no matter what you look like.

Relephant Reads:

> Supermodels without Makeup.

Bad skin? No make up? Hair a mess? Come here & kiss me, you’re beautiful. 

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

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diane Nov 16, 2014 11:35am

I love this article! I used to wear makeup everyday until i was forced to stop because of dermatitis. Not wearing makeup really stirred up weird emotions i didn't know i had… I liked my naked face at home, but outside and specially at work, i felt kind of inferior. Like I wasn't able to keep up with other women anymore. Like i was loosing points! Not being able to wear makeup or dye my hair sometimes makes me feel like i dont have success at BEiNG a women. Of course this is silly, and it is all in my head.
This dermatitis was a blessing, because now i am learning to accept my natural beauty and face my insecurities.
It's also funny how judgemental we are about grey hair.
When i was younger, i used to color my hair all kinds of funky colors to be different and eccentric.
Now i see my greying hair as eccentric again, because i seem to be in the very small minority of women who dont dye their hair!
Thank you for your beautiful article!

Tracy Jan 29, 2014 9:11am

I totally needed this today. I am in my early 20s, and decided a few days ago to give up makeup because I had become so dependent on it, and literally all of my confidence came from wearing makeup. I have nothing against makeup, nor do I have anything against women (or men, for that matter) who wear makeup, but I found it disturbing that without makeup, I had no confidence in myself. The first couple days were tough; I felt like I couldn't approach people and that everyone would look at me and think "Wow, she is unattractive." However, I'm on the third day now and it is amazing how many little improvements in my outlook are happening so quickly. I am suddenly want to pay a lot more attention to my skincare routine, and my teeth care routine, as well as eating well and working out. After only three days, I am getting used to looking in the mirror and not seeing makeup. In fact, I'm beginning to like how I look without it! This is one of the toughest things I've ever done, but considering I'm already making huge improvements in my confidence after only three days, I can't wait to see how much more progress I make as time goes on. The process is truly much easier when you simply stop caring about what people think, as you said. Thank you for this article, well-written and so inspiring!

maira Jan 21, 2014 8:11am

Every one wants to add beauty to its self. As you explained the ways to bring out the beauty without caring about others is really good. Thanks.

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Tifany Lee

Tifany Lee is a singer, musician, theatrician, activist and yogini. Her playZombie U was recently published in the APW Press Anthology, and her third album, Southern Gothic, is in production and will be released in 2014. She loves spending time with her domestic partner and bulldog in Athens, Georgia. You can catch up with her at tifanylee.comFacebook and Twitter.