The foundation of beauty

When you wake up, what’s the first thing you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you want to rip out your frizzy, cowlick-filled hair? Do your makeup-less eyes make your feel like you’re dull and fifty? What about yourself makes you feel beautiful? Is there anything?Maybe you wake up and don’t think these things. Perhaps instead you smile at your bright blue eyes or your deep, mysterious brown ones. Maybe you crawl out of bed and your hair looks fantastic. But being a girl and struggling with feeling less than beautiful myself, and talking to many girls about these issues, I know many women seldom feel beautiful in their natural state. Without makeup, some sort of hair care product, or even the right clothes, we tend to feel invisible, ugly, or plain. I’ve felt the same way too. Last year though, everything changed for me.

In my yearbook class my senior year, the theme of our book was “Growing Up.” We often discussed life issues, and one of our ongoing conversations was the beauty factor. We realized how often girls feel the need to be someone else and to measure up to certain standards. Whether it’s pressure from media, friends, guys, or even parents, caking on makeup to meet standards seems the only way to feel beautiful, or in some cases, even average.

Moved deeply by the issue, my classmates and I took our advisor up on a challenge: no make-up Monday. On Monday, we would all come to school with no mask, our bare faces for the world to see. I wouldn’t back down, but I was terrified.

We all showed up self-conscious at first. My whole first hour I tried not to look at anyone. I never wore a lot of makeup–just the basic mascara and eyeliner–but even those two things seemed to make a world of difference. I looked down at my desk and tried not to talk. At one point someone said that I “looked tired,” and I shrugged it off, but once again felt hideous.

I finally arrived at my yearbook class to be greeted by my friends. We all beamed at the sight of each other and gushed over how beautiful each girl was. Yet none of us felt beautiful ourselves. Why was that?

What I realized is that we are so critical of how we look that we forget the people that matter always see us as beautiful. We know all our flaws and we constantly see others and how we wish we could be, and so we’re always looking for ways to improve and always noticing the things we hate.

Others, at least the people that matter, don’t see that. They see what’s wonderful and beautiful, no matter what we’re wearing or what we have on our faces, because they see the inner beauty radiating outward. It’s like when you’ve been dating someone for a while. Isn’t it funny how that person seems to become more attractive the longer you date them and get to know them? It’s that inner beauty shining outward. It actually manifests itself physically too.

The more I began not wearing makeup the more I noticed other girls who did. I realized how thickly it was often caked on. The mascara was often ‘gobbed’ on eyelashes, crusty and flaking. I notice eyeliner as a thick artificial line distracting me from the naturally beautiful eyes of these girls. Faces looked cakey and fake, with thick, smudgy foundation smeared on. I tried to picture these girls with no make up, and I couldn’t even do it because the mask was so thick. I knew they’d look like a totally different person. What does that say?

When we let others tell us whether or not we are beautiful and allow makeup to rule our self-confidence, our beauty, we lose the battle. We become prisoner to bottled lies every time we gob foundation all over our face. We fall victim to the emotional torturing of mascara and eyeliner, telling us our eyelashes aren’t long enough, aren’t dark enough, and that our eyes are never to be noticed.

When I decided to stand up to the lies of our society, that we are only beautiful a certain way (other than the way we were made), the way I saw myself changed drastically. The more I stopped wearing makeup, the more I genuinely felt beautiful. Instead of looking in the mirror and despising my dull blue eyes, I smiled at the kindness I saw in them. Rather than waking up to loath my stocky legs, I viewed them as strong and athletic. When you start to see yourself for who you really are without the mask and realize that our differences make life so much more interesting and beautiful, you’ll feel better about yourself. Now when I look in the mirror and feel ugly, it’s after I’ve been ugly inside.

Remember the people that really matter—not the movie stars or that person who’s always cutting you down that you’re trying to impress—will always see the best in you, and they want you to see it too. If they don’t then they’re not really worth having in your life.

I’m not against makeup at all. Some days I wear it to mix it up and other days I don’t. But what I don’t do is let it define me any longer. I know that I don’t need it to feel beautiful, and for me, though I still struggle sometimes, the realization of my own unique beauty is my greatest victory.

So try it. If you normally don’t wear makeup and you feel beautiful, good for you. But if you do, give it a try. Start waking up and focus not on your flaws, but on what you like about yourself. Remember that even the girls you wish you were probably have something they don’t like about themselves either. Be encouraging, because there is too much negativity out there and too many people that feel less than beautiful. Prove them wrong, and prove yourself wrong too. n