“I have to put my face on,” is a sentiment echoed by many women before stepping out of the house. If you’re like me, I didn’t have a positive female role model growing up to tell me that 12 was far too young to start wearing makeup. Instead, at this vulnerable age, my insecurities were reinforced by being told I was ugly. It started innocently enough with a little mascara, then it slowly graduated on to a full mask that literally and figuratively hid my true identity. Magazines and TV dictated and shaped my idea of beauty—flawless skin, long eyelashes, drawn in eyeliner, and perfectly groomed eyebrows. It got to the point where I couldn’t go anywhere without meeting these superficial beauty prerequisites I’ve set for myself. The exhaustive need to conceal my flaws turned into an obsession that would plague me for years. Intellectually, I knew it was not healthy and yet, I couldn’t stop.
Fast forward into my 30’s, it was evident in my journey to self-realization that my spiritual and physical parts were at war. The feeling that I had to wear eyeliner in my yoga class for example, did not seem harmonious with the spiritual identity that I was striving towards. I knew my makeup fixation and distorted view on beauty was one of the last things preventing me from reaching my goal of healthily detaching my ego from this world of delusion constructed by the fear that I was less than perfect.
Then I decided to ask myself the hard questions. What was it that made it hard for me to accept myself as I am? Where did this sense of shame come from and how can I overcome it? If you’ve found yourself in the same predicament whether it’s about makeup or not, there are steps to take that can help you take control of the deep-seated issues we eventually have to confront and conquer on our path to growth.
Go cold turkey or wean yourself.
In my case, I took the plunge and stopped wearing makeup completely. Make a commitment by throwing out some of your cosmetics, if not all. It’s relieving to not have an impulse to reach for that foundation brush every morning. There is also an element of freedom in knowing your makeup won’t smear on your clothes, scarves, and the collars of significant others.
Think of all the money you’ll save too! I remember “needing” to buy more products to cover my face with, when in reality, they were unncessary.
Do something you enjoy and be good at it.
One sure way to build confidence and self-esteem is finding something you’re good at and focusing on it. “I was into many sports and I was kind of like a tomboy so appearance was not my main focus growing up,” Manal recalls. Having an outlet to express yourself at your very best helps overcome feelings of insecurity and low self-worth. “I think I have a healthy view on makeup because my aunt introduced it to me as a stepping stone to my maturity. My main reason for makeup is to feel prepared for my day. It makes me feel more confident and professional when wearing it, but I feel you should never rely on anything to feel normal,” she adds.
Love and accept yourself.
It’s easier said than done and there are many methods and tools to achieve this. It also takes a lot of practice and patience, but this step comes a long way and is highly effective in touching all aspects of your life positively. Some ideas include, but not limited to:
- Pay attention to yourself and start caring about your own needs.
- Set some quiet time aside for some self-reflection and learn to meditate.
- Contemplate and start journaling your thoughts and feelings.
- Confide with a trusted friend or a therapist.
- Love others as you want to be loved.
- Remove yourself from toxic relationships that are no longer serving you.
Learn how to identify old wounds to start the healing inside and out by practicing forgiveness and moving on. Release old emotions and break old patterns of thinking that you know are hindering your ability to love and accept yourself as you are. Be sure to take your time and be kind to yourself in the process.
Learn to be comfortable in your own skin.
Carolyn, a free-spirited modern day Renaisance woman, encountered a similar battle with her self-image as I did. “There was a period of time when I thought I was really ugly from the way I was raised and treated poorly by boys. Then I decided that enough was enough. I waited until college to feel secure about myself before putting on makeup. Now, I use it a form of artistic expression for myself as a form of celebrating life. I don’t need to wear it. I do it for me.”
Notice the difference in how people perceive you when you’re talking to them face to face without a mask on. Your personality and intellect will come into the foreground—traits that you’ll want to highlight to form meaningful and genuine relationships. And when you’re riddled with doubt, you will just have to trust you are your own worst critic and others won’t see your flaws unless you point them out yourself. Learn to relax in your own being and enjoy it!