Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baring It All...

from the neck up.

Okay, so this post is kind of a remake of one that I did a couple of years ago on another blog. I wanted to revisit the issue though because it keeps coming up and I'm so not over it. What's the issue? Makeup.

Most of you are used to seeing me wear it. It doesn't matter where--at church, at the grocery store, on the playground, and even at the pool! This is the face I bear. Foundation, powder, blush, four colors of eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. All the time.


I don't remember the occasion or even how old I was but I remember the first makeup kit I ever had. I remember holding it in my hands, feeling that excitement--I was going to be beautiful. It was cheap, kid stuff and after I put it on I'm certain, looking back, that I resembled a clown. But I was hooked; I added more and more makeup to my collection and got pretty good at applying it. I've never been afraid of color, to go a little wild. I've had blue and purple lips and sported colored eyeliner and smokey eyes. Makeup is fun. It's been my thing.

That said, I definitely feel tied down to it now. I can't go without wearing it without looking weird. It's a glaring difference. People notice. I remember once in high school I went bare-faced to the local grocery store where one of my (male) friends worked. "Wow, Traci, you," he said. I laughed it off but I never forgot it. Fast forward to 2008. We moved to New Orleans. No one here knew me. It was my chance to be a different person. A person who didn't wear make up all the time. So I'd lay off it during the week and mainly only wear it when we dressed up for church on Sundays. But, ah, the honesty of children got me. Some little Korean kids told me that I should wear make up all the time because I looked pretty with it on. So I did.

Sometimes I feign confidence and go without makeup. But it's not really confidence; it's me saying, "Who cares if I look ugly?" Sometimes over the years I've thought certain situations warranted a relaxation of the all makeup all the time rule. One of those situations was Ryland's birth and my subsequent hospital stay. Early the morning after Ryland was born my doctor knocked and stuck her head in my room. "Oh," she said, starting to leave. Then she took another look, "Traci?" SERIOUSLY? I thought. My own doctor didn't recognize me because I didn't have makeup on! Yeesh.

I don't really get why I look so different without it because I see other mothers on the playground and I honestly can't tell when they are or are not wearing makeup. They look natural but not the least bit schlumpy.   How can that be?! If I so much as lighten up on my eyeliner I get comments reflecting the fact that something is off. I hear "you look tired" a lot. And rather than say, "Nope, I'm fully rested but thanks for racking that shred of confidence that I was trying to build up!" I just say something like, "Oh, yeah, well you know the kids and blah, blah, blah."

I recently read an article in Home Life magazine. It was about a Christian lady, Constance Rhodes, who through her own efforts to change the skewed sense of beauty in our culture, discovered that she was just as vain as her non-believer counterparts. The revelation came after meeting with the director of America the Beautiful, a documentary which asks (and answers) the question, "Is America obsessed with beauty?" In her article Mrs. Rhodes mentions something that the director of the film said during their interview. "Just think about its name--make up. When you put it on, what are you trying to 'make up' for?" Now I know darn well what I'm trying to make up for. I feel inadequate. I don't truly feel ugly but I don't feel beautiful. I don't feel pretty enough. I want to be those women in the beauty ads. I want to be a knock out if only in my husband's eyes. Or maybe not even in his eyes or any other man's eyes but in every other woman's eyes--because c'mon we're the ones who really judge each other aren't we? I'm not sure what it is but I am unbelievably insecure in this area. I know I am not alone.

Some suggest the media is to blame and perhaps they are. Have you all seen the Dove-Evolution Commercial? No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted indeed.

Mrs. Rhodes was led to go a month without makeup, chronicling the entire experiment with daily makeup-less photos on her Facebook page. (I think her photos look beautiful...she's fresh-faced with naturally rosy cheeks.) She wrote, "Frankly, the judgment of fellow Christians, particularly women, was the most challenging aspect of this experiment." Church was an uncomfortable place for her to go that month. I can't even imagine! 

She mentioned that she loved how The Message paraphrases Proverbs 29:25: "The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that."

I like 1 Samuel 16:7: "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." And 1 Peter 3: 3-4: Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." And 1 Timothy 4:8: "Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next."

Do I think it's wrong to wear makeup or fix your hair or wear nice clothes or exercise? Certainly not. But obsession with outward beauty definitely distracts us from exercising spiritually to obtain that "unfading beauty." It breeds insecurity and harsh judgment of others and ourselves.  That's not who I want to be. I want the Lord to look upon me and see a beautiful, pure heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there by any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.


1 comment:

  1. You have stirred up so many thoughts for me with this post but before I share them all I want to contemplate them a little more and be sure I choose my words well. I have nothing but compliments to share I just want to be sure they come out that way! :) Geez, now I know how men feel, lol! Love you girl.