I have a little confessional story to tell today. Back last year, my friend Charlotte (who for most of last year had taken up a new challenge of self-discipline each month) asked if I would join her in not wearing make-up for the month of November. The entire month. As an act of sister-solidarity I said I was in. We had talked about it in August, working out the best month to do it: I reasoned November because October was my birthday month and I had lots of public speaking events with work and December was Christmas with parties and opportunities to be out and dressed up. November it was.
Then November came around (like a flash, I might add) and here we were, resolved to bare-face it together for the entire 30 days.
I'll stop here and preface this by saying that I've never had a bad relationship with make-up. I had some acne as a teenager, plucked my eyebrows in Junior High until they were the shape of a large sewing needle (that is an accurate word-picture, folks), but I was never the girl that had a face full of slap on every day. In fact, looking back on my High School pictures in Canada - my look definitely bordered on tom-boy, 'would-have-worn-pajamas-to-school-if-I-could-have-gotten-away-with-it' chic.
I think it was around 16 that I thought more about having a little something on my face, but it was really ever only a bit of foundation, blush and eyeliner. Pretty much exactly what I wear now. I've never really been the kind of gal that barefaced it a lot because my make-up 'routine' was never really that strenuous. I still cannot confirm what 'contouring' means.
I tell you this because this no-make up challenge kind of rocked me. I expected it to be easy because of my general lack of interest in make-up, but it was hard. Even though I only use about 4 products on my face, I didn't realise quite how dependent I was on them until I stopped.
Some things that happened:
+ I got asked every. single. day if I was 'alright?' or 'tired?'. My boss was genuinely concerned one day and came in to check on me.
+ My skin was in obvious detox from even the minimal make-up I use and I broke out - which was fun. Because who doesn't love being on a make-up ban when you have an angry spot on your chin?
+ I felt like crap. I didn't look like myself (what a loaded phrase) and I found it hard to suck it up - it made me a bit mopey.
+ I hated that I felt like crap, thinking I was a bad feminist for believing I wasn't as attractive without make-up on and went through several crisis talks with Charlotte about how emotionally messed up this was making us.
+ I longed for eyeliner the most the most the most.
+ I only lasted 10 days. Ugh.
(The above picture is day 5. You would not be misled if you thought I was trying to compensate the no-make up thing by spending extra time doing my hair, because I NEVER do my hair.)
It felt pretty pathetic that I didn't stick it out the whole month - poor Charlotte lost her ally and caved soon after. At first it was just a little swipe of eyeliner one morning before a big Government meeting; then it was a wee swoosh of blush on a night out. That slippery make-up slope sucked me back in.
It played with my head a lot, my internal reactions. I wondered if I actually had deep-seated body image issues connected to make-up. I wondered if I was just a pawn in the beauty industry's game - the game that I rage so much against in my work and personal life. I wondered if I was actually more vain than I realised. Strange, isn't it? If I don't really care about make-up THEN WHY DID NOT WEARING IT MAKE ME FEEL LIKE CRAP?!! It was so confusing.
A few months on from my short-lived challenge, I can see that my reactions were pretty normal. I am confident that my relationship with make-up and beauty isn't unhealthy - it's just a routine, a habit, a thing that has become quite normal in my every-day and I know that my own (and other peoples') reaction to me was more about seeing me outside of that routine, rather than me looking hideous. It was good to have that little check-in with my esteem. I needed it.
Now over to you. I'd love to hear about your own relationship with make-up: Do you LOVE it? Why? Would you bare-face it for a month? Have you? What one product would be the hardest for you to give up?
*Be sure to check back again later in the week as I follow up this post by sharing my favourite non-toxic beauty products*