A few months back, I had a revelation: I was a slave to makeup.
I used to think I loved makeup, that it was fun and made me feel good.
What I wasn’t seeing was how deeply programmed I was.
After reading about how Alicia Keys refused to wear makeup to the MTV Video Music Awards, and the backlash that followed, I started to explore my own thoughts around makeup.
I used to repetitively tell myself:
“I don’t need makeup, I choose makeup because it makes me feel good.” (False.)
“I like makeup.” (False.)
“I’m perfectly comfortable not wearing any makeup.” (Also false.)
Then one day I realized how much I didn’t want to put makeup on every morning, but I did it anyway. And I realized, that’s not choice. That’s addiction.
I began to see how I had this underlying compulsion and fear that if I wasn’t made-up, people would think I looked ugly. I wouldn’t measure up to all the women constantly permeating our psyche through television and real life—pounds of shadowy eye makeup, fake lashes out to there, and skin so concealed and enhanced that it looks plastic.
And then my rational mind thought, “Wait, I don’t even want to look like that, it’s unnatural.” So I sat with that and continued to explore the tension between these two conflicting voices in my head—one telling me to be natural and free, and the other whispering fears of ugliness and inadequacy.
Here are some statistics to hammer my point home:
“One in three women admit that they refuse to leave the house without makeup on.”
“Only four percent of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. Believe it or not, this is a doubled increase from just two percent in 2004. Also, 80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful, but do not see their own beauty.”
“Psychological research demonstrates that (Duh.) There is a strong cultural expectation that women should pay more attention to their appearance than men do. (Why?!) This also helps explain why women are more likely to use makeup to cover up acne and perceived skin flaws. Makeup can also even skin out, making it appear smoother and more flawless, which is generally desirable. Overall, makeup can increase attractiveness, which is generally desirable for women.” (Bullsh*t!)than women care about men’s appearances.
The United States cosmetic industry is the largest in the world, estimating a total revenue of $54.89 billion per year.
As I further explored why I continued to feel the need to wear makeup even when I didn’t actually want to put it on, I discovered this:
Without makeup, I’m afraid I will look tired, plain, or like a 12-year-old boy.
I’m afraid I won’t be taken seriously at work because without makeup, I look like I just rolled out of bed.
I believe I look like crap without cosmetics, so I feel the need to apologize or justify myself on occasions when I have no makeup on.
I fear what others will think about me when I’m makeup-free.
Even as independent and empowered women, the deeply-programmed desire to be viewed as sexy or attractive goes deep. On a conscious level, I don’t want to be objectified for someone’s viewing pleasure, so it was interesting to realize that buried deep within me was the belief that if I’m not filling that “attractive” role, there’s something wrong with me as a woman.
That’s some deep-rooted, f*cked up programming!
I’m not knocking makeup. What I have a problem with is that so many women believe that we aren’t pretty if we’re not wearing makeup. We believe we have to paint ourselves up like dolls in order to be taken seriously or viewed as worthy.
About a week after I started exploring my own views about makeup, I decided to wear a little bit less every few days. No more eyeliner or eye shadow, no cover up on my pimples—absolutely nothing on my face. I was done covering up.
As I was thinking about this, a dear co-worker and friend walked into our office. The first thing out of her mouth was,“I’m so sorry, I have no makeup on, I woke up early and I had to…” followed by excuses. I looked up and said, “You’re beautiful! You don’t need it!”
Her face lit up with the most illuminating smile, and she looked genuinely touched. She replied, “Thank you, I needed that today.”
So simple, yet so effective.
I stopped wearing makeup after that.
I was super insecure the first few days, but no one said anything to me. I had created this fear of judgment in my head. I looked different, but I got used to it.
And then I started to feel different too. I started feeling empowered and confident to show my face to the world as it it. And now, when I choose to wear a little mascara, it’s a choice. It’s a slow process, and I’m still working through the deeply-rooted beliefs that still cause a twinge of panic when I’m taking pictures barefaced—but it’s all worth it.
I’m slowly redefining my beliefs about what beautiful looks like. And my skin glows these days.
The best part is I’m not a slave to “getting ready” anymore, which gives me time to do more important things than obsess about my appearance. And that is an incredible gift.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Image: Courtesy of author
Editor: Nicole Cameron