Love / Momhood

A Lenten Update

I have had a few people ask me how my makeup fast is going, so I thought I would share an update with all of you.

I have gone 21 days without makeup.

I am a little over half way done.

Hm.

Let’s be honest, do I feel more comfortable today, on day 21, than I did on day 1?

Yes.

and…

no.

Yes, because today I have only interacted with Forrest and Juniper, whereas on day 1 I was still working at the library and was nervous about a lot of “are you tired?” comments.

No, because I still really, really miss makeup.

Despite my desire to swipe some mascara on my pale eyelashes, I have had some thoughts about the use and purpose of makeup.

I think that makeup is a medium that we, as women, can hide behind.

Now, I don’t believe that is the sole purpose of makeup, but I think it is definitely part of it, at least for me.

When I used to put on makeup I could control how people perceived my well being. Putting on makeup tells the world, “I’m doing great! Look at how put together I am!”

When I don’t wear makeup I am presenting my true self, my vulnerability.

For instance, earlier this week Juniper went to bed earlier than normal but then woke up about 4 hours later. I fed her, she fell back asleep, but then proceeded to wake up every 1 to 2 hours after that. Miserable, miserable night. I think Francie is the only one who slept through it.

The next morning, I went to work (work for me right now is one morning a week at a software company where I help out with office work) and saw a few dear friends. I left feeling a little discouraged because I definitely did not look my best. My tired face had nothing to hide behind, and that made me feel sad and embarrassed.

As I write and reflect on that morning and those emotions I think, “Geez! It’s just makeup! People still like you for who you are!”

True, but do I like me? Embarrassing to admit, but true.

Sometime around puberty, most girls/women start to paint their faces and learn a new normal.

A new normal.

I have to wonder, if I do not wear any makeup what will strangers or possible employers think about my personality, ability, and competence based on the first thing they see – my face?

You might say, why should you care what strangers think about how you look?

Well, here is another for instance: I had a job interview last Monday for an On-Call Librarian position at the Clackamas Library. When I got the interview, I immediately wondered, makeup or no makeup? After a conversation with my sister-in-law about first impressions and societal norms, I decided to wear makeup for the interview but wash it off as soon as I got home. But I wonder, if I had gone sans makeup would I have presented the same professional impression, or would it have looked like I was not trying my very best? Who knows.

Maybe I am making too big a deal of this, but I am frustrated that making up our faces can hugely determine our success. It makes me wonder, why don’t men have to wear makeup? Why do women, at least some of us, feel like we have to? Why do we need or want to look a certain way, and who determines what the ‘certain way’ is?

Ahem.

All this to say, this commitment to go 40 days (not including Sundays) without makeup is a lot more exhausting, vulnerable, and discouraging than I thought it would be.

However.

It is also eye-opening, thought-provoking and a darn good thing for me to do.

I am thankful for the last 21 days and the next 19 days because I am still reminded daily about the reason for my sacrifice – small and silly though it may be. Even when life gets busy, any time I see my face I can remember the beauty of the gospel and the sacredness of this lenten season.

I am also thankful for these days because I am learning more about myself, and, more importantly, I am able to reflect on the message I want to share with Juniper someday about self-worth, makeup, and the beauty of a face that is au naturel.

Thanks for listening.

How is your lenten fast?

Love,
Libs

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4 thoughts on “A Lenten Update

  1. I have a hand full of families where the mother does not wear makeup. They tend to be confident, intentional parents who have a lot of focus on family and health. I always respect them.

  2. Remember when Andy looked at Opie at the dinner table and said “And to think I was glad when you learned to talk.” Andy was unhappy with Opies unwillingness to open up his heart to Aunt Bea and how the little guy had treated her at the dinner table. (sorry …short trip down our memory lane :) )

    I say that to say…I WAS glad when you learned to talk and then read and write. Yes, some of the reasons for that were so you were up with your peers and held to the grade level standard. Life. There always seems to be some kind of standard to be measured by. And most of the time…if we are all honest ….we never feel as if we measure up.

    Thank you for being open and sharing your heart. Bold enough to say the things that most only think but would never share because they are hiding behind “whatever it is” so they look better…or feel better.

    Another reason that I’m thankful that you learned to talk, read and write is that you are able to put words to the thoughts that we have but can’t find the words for. That my dear is a gift.

    As I go about my days I will continue to reflect on this post and especially that line ….any time I see my face I can remember the beauty of the gospel and the sacredness of this Lenten Season. I admit…that line brought a tear as did the whole post because you gave words to your heart and were willing to let us join you in the journey.

    Your beauty is rare in this world. Juniper is one lucky little girl to have a Momma like you.

  3. I agree with Cheri, I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing this with us! I had no idea you were taking this fast so I found your post not only intriguing but valuable. I agree with everything you said. It’s amazing how we women tend to wear make-up and not even know the reasons behind it. There is part of me that has always thought that I’m taking care of my skin (the largest organ in the human body) and yet make-up does provide a sense of security.
    Have you ever thought of writing a book? If so I’d love to read it! Your thoughts are always so clear and easy to read. As a mother of soon to be 3 daughters I think having musings on exactly this topic would be helpful for moms trying to raise daughters well in this day and age.

    • As I read your Lenten Update today I felt impressed to share with you a personal experience from many years ago. Perhaps you will find it thought provoking because it is a story of a sweet lady you fondly called “Mimi” and myself.

      We had a habit of meeting weekly at our favorite restaurant for breakfast, sitting at the same table, ordering the same plate of eggs benedict while we chatted for unlimited minutes sharing life’s stories.

      Every time I drove away from our long visits there was always the same sobering memory I would take home with me. How I admired my friend’s confident appearance of self worth in public without one bit of make up on her face! What amazing freedom from the fear of what others might think of her.

      At that time in my life I would not allow myself to be seen before breakfast without make up on my face and my
      hair completely combed with every hair in place. Sadly, my worth was measured by what others might think or say!

      Many years have passed, along with my friend but now I gladly walk like her, au naturel, as you call it. My darling husband now forbids me hide my natural face because he says I am more beautiful that way! Now, who am I to dare argue with him?

      Aside from him, these days the person I see the most is my doctor and for sure when I go there I want him to see
      my face exactly as it is with all the pain of life’s failing health exposed.

      Thank you for your awesome Lenten thought: Even when life gets busy, any time I see my face I can remember the beauty of the gospel and the sacredness of this lenten season. Precious words to recall often!

      Love,
      Nana

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