Exposed: One Week Without Makeup

I've been thinking a lot about makeup lately.

Of course, I often think about makeup. I read upwards of 20 beauty blogs daily, watch makeup hauls and tutorials on YouTube regularly, stroll through Sephora and Shoppers once or twice a week. I give nail polish tips to those who ask (and those who don't), leisurely enjoy applying my makeup in the mornings, frequently try different lip-staining techniques to ensure the longevity of a red pucker, take pictures and write reviews on my own beauty blog about my favourite products.

All of this makeup indulgence is just that: indulgence. It's a hobby for me. Colour and texture and technique. I like playing with and manipulating products to see what they can do, and how they will change my look. Indulgence.

But as much as I claim that makeup is purely fun for me, that's not the whole truth. Makeup is also a crutch.

I've been wearing basic makeup since I was about 12 years old. I didn't experiment with bright lipstick or bold eyeliner; I basically used three products: foundation, mascara, and blush. I wore foundation to cover up my acne and discolouration from acne scars; I wore mascara to make my eyes look bigger; I wore blush to make my pale skin look less sickly. I wore it to hide everything that was wrong with my face.

I wore these things religiously. In high school and throughout university, I would not leave my house without makeup. It was terrifying for me. Even though I didn't wear much, it made me feel more presentable. I felt that without it, my ugliness could be spotted from miles away; with it, I felt I was, at the very least, plain.

I didn't wear makeup to feel pretty, I wore it so I didn't feel ugly. And there is a world of difference between the two.

A few weeks ago, my friend linked me to this video of Dustin Hoffman talking about his role in Tootsie. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out, because it is so simple yet profound, and it touched something deep inside of me. In speaking about his preparation for the role, he says he agreed to only play the part of Tootsie if he could be made to look like woman, not a man in costume. He says that once his makeup was complete, he asked to be made to look prettier. In being told that this was as good as it was going to get, Hoffman says:
I went home and started crying, talking to my wife, and I said "I have to make this picture [...] because I think I'm an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen, and I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn't fulfill physically the demands that we're brought up to think that women have to have in order for us to ask them out. [...] There's too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed."
What struck me about this interview was that it's not only men who have been brainwashed; women have been too. Because I realized that as much as I talk about the joy of makeup, I still feel insecure without it. When I leave the house with second-day hair and no concealer to hide my under-eyes and no red lipstick to show that I am a confident woman, I am acutely aware that I look different, imperfect, unmanicured, not pretty. I am naked, and I feel the same shame associated with bodily nakedness. I am the same interesting, smart, funny woman, but I am missing my mask that lets me wear those qualities proudly.

I've decided I want to feel confident in who I am and how I look, unfettered by products and potions and colours. So I've decided that, starting tomorrow, 21 July, I'm going to go make-up free for a week. A full 7 days. No mascara, no concealer, no lipstick, no nail polish. I'm not going to wear makeup at work or out with friends or getting groceries. I am going to expose my imperfections to everyone who happens to glance my way.

This is actually quite scary for me. I can't remember the last time I left the house without makeup, and I'm sure when I did, I spent a large amount of time feeling - or at least trying to feel - invisible.

But I don't want to be brainwashed anymore. I want to feel that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, without having to touch up the bits and pieces that I've been made to believe aren't.

Here it goes.

Current book: The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
Current TV series: Doctor Who series 2
Current nail colour: nothing! Starting the challenge early.


Alexandra said…
Bravo! Well said! All the best, you can do it!
Anonymous said…
Love this post because I think you represent the attitude (and fear) of the make-up generation of women. Good luck with going naked.

Anonymous said…
i was touched by what dustin hoffman had to say...and did send it along to friends....i don't wear much make up but i do cover my gray hair and darken my eye brows....recently my boss who is 59 let her gray hair come in naturally and got a great cut...she looked spectacular...of course this is not something you have to worry about yet, but I can relate to your feeling a little anxious about not wearing make up for a week...people will notice something different and they probably won't be able to put their finger on it....but they will get used to it and it will all be fine!!!
you are very brave!!!
Becca Rose said…
Yay yay yay!
K @ Ototheno said…
this is awesome! i'm looking forward to hearing/reading what your thoughts are from going makeup-free. i also saw that video a couple weeks ago and it resonated with me too.

i heard once that a woman puts on makeup like a man puts on armour. kudos to you for doing this :)

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