This past November, I committed to not wearing makeup for the entire month. I am not one to wear much makeup and I have no problem leaving the house with a “blank slate.” However, this month was somewhat challenging for me. Going to class or the gym was an easy task but going to an event or giving a presentation made me feel like I was missing something or was under-dressed. No matter how low maintenance my makeup routine is, it is still a routine that had become part of my life when I was 14 (yes, I was a late bloomer and did not join the rest of my “mature” classmates wearing makeup until 8th grade). These extra minutes I spent preparing for my day gave me a sense of security and confidence. It was not until this November that I began to re-think my thought process behind spending time making sure I looked a certain way.
The beginning of the month led to moments of me feeling like I was forgetting something each morning when I left my house. I remember one morning getting all the way to my car and thinking, “Wow, I should go back and put some mascara on because I know I look really tired.” However, by the end of November, I had a different outlook on how something so simple can become so ingrained into your daily life. It was more than a habit, it was something I felt like I needed to do to feel like I looked like I “cared” about what I was doing that day (I am becoming annoyed with myself for thinking this at one point).
What did I do with my extra 7-10 minutes in the morning? I either read part of a book or I took time to answer a journal prompt. Both two very simple and easy things to do, but it made a difference in how my day went. Instead of spending time trying to make myself “presentable,” I spent time putting my own thoughts into words and reading about how to be a happier person (the book is called “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor, and I recommend). Looking back, this amount of time and decisions were small, but over the course of a month, it adds up to about four hours. Intentionally, for an entire month, I invested 4 hours into making my mind happier and healthier. Looking back, that made so much more of a difference than the accidental mascara smudges and eye liner mishaps I would have had in that same amount of time.
Confidence, you might think some people have it or they don’t. Realistically, confidence can be developed over time by habits and successes. In the beginning of my November, I was not very confident leaving the house without spending an extra 7 (give or take) minutes on my appearance. The more often I left the house without really checking to make sure my eyes didn’t look “sleepy,” the more I became comfortable with the people I interacted with appreciating me for what I was saying, not what I was looking like. I found great value in this. As a female working in the world of sport, it is often challenging to find both respect and an appreciation for the unique take-away we have in athletic situations without being judged on appearance. I am not saying that all men think women do not belong in the world of sport, but I have worked in athletic worlds that have labeled me based on my status as a female, not my ability. Appearance should not play into this, but it often does. A female athlete or coach wears too much makeup and they are automatically “too girly” and having their knowledge of sports question. Or, they are being called “hot” instead of being respected for what they bring to the conversation. My time not wearing makeup, I realized that as much thought as I had put into this, it really does not matter what the people placing these labels see in you, they will assume whatever they want about you. If someone wants to find a reason to disrespect and degrade your ability based on your appearance, they will. However, being confident in your ability is a skill that radiates far beyond appearance in many cases and this is important to remember, not just in the world of sports.
We can be confident and comfortable with ourselves, it takes time and is a dynamic process. I would consider myself a confident individual, but now reflecting on my experience, I realize that I am nowhere near where I want to be with my self-confidence and comfort. No matter who it is, how beautiful they are, or how confident they seem, we as bystanders have no idea how someone feels or perceives themselves. I think this is something we should all strive to be more aware of. Go be the “upgrade” that your friend needs and feel confident to own whatever outfit or look you want to that day. It goes a long way for how you feel about yourself and your ability to overcome the pressures society has made you consider when getting ready in the morning.
In short, what I learned over the course of November:
- It is beautiful to feel beautiful and if that means wearing makeup, go for it. But if that means taking that extra time to make yourself feel heard by writing in your journal or reading a book, go for it.
- Beauty is not connected to the presence of makeup on your face and I will make a conscious effort to let all my fellow females know this more often.
- If my answer to “should I wear makeup today,” is not answered by “yes, I want to do this for me today,” I will not take that extra time to do it because, ultimately it is about how I feel about myself when I leave the house, not what I look like to someone who probably has their mind made up about who I am.
- Confidence is hard to find and can be easily shaken, no matter who you are and how you see yourself. It is important to take the time to do what you need to do to feel confident in your appearance, your thoughts, and your actions.
- I am not saying people who spend time (or do not spend time) are any more or less beautiful. People are all beautiful in their own way and it is our job to appreciate and respect that, no matter what they look like.
Thanks for reading!
My challenge for you, think about why you spend the extra time you do on your appearance. It might not seem like a lot, but if you do not like your answer to the question, I challenge you to change up your routine because your mind deserves attention, just like your eyelashes do. Go out, be fearless, and be you! Whatever that looks like, do it.
“Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.” -Markus Zusak
“Inner beauty, too, needs occasionally to be told it is beautiful.” -Robert Brault