Thoughts On...

Thoughts on Not Wearing Makeup

 (Here I am, bare-faced.)

I am one of those people who is afraid of going out in public without makeup.

(There, I admitted it.)

I wear makeup on nearly every day of the year, even if I’m not planning on leaving the house. I wear makeup to the grocery store, to the mailbox, to go water the garden, to go donate plasma…basically, putting on makeup has become as much of a part of my daily life as brushing my teeth or putting on deodorant.

I love how confident I feel when I have my “face” on—I like knowing that I’d be comfortable running into everybody and anybody, and I like the feeling that I’m looking my best.

However, lately I’ve started to wish that I was a little more comfortable going without the face paint every now and then, especially since my daily makeup routine consists of foundation, concealer, powder, highlighter, blush, bronzer (sometimes), eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara (an arsenal which takes no small amount of time to unpack, apply, and put away).

At girls’ camp last week, there were absolutely no mirrors to speak of. Because the no-makeup thing is basically an integral part of camping, I didn’t bother packing any (or even a hairbrush, for that matter). Throughout the camp, there were moments when I forgot to be self-conscious and just enjoyed the fact that I could get my face wet without having to worry or that I could cry freely without making any mascara run.

But as much as I hate to admit it, there was a reason I kept my huge sunglasses on for much of the trip, and there were times when I discreetly hid from pictures being taken of me–the fact is, I don’t really feel pretty without makeup.

Now, like most women, I accepted long ago that I just look better with makeup on, plain and simple. I don’t think that’s really a problem. I guess the real issue is that I’ve somehow taught myself to not feel pretty without it.

When I was younger (perhaps 11), I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to wear makeup (which, in my house, we were allowed to start wearing basic foundation, powder, blush, and mascara at age twelve, if we chose). The reason behind this wasn’t just because I was overeager to grow up or because I wanted to look older—it was because, from a young age, I often felt like the ugly duckling. My three older sisters were all stunning (still are), and they all seemed to have dates lined up about every weekend.

I wanted to be exactly like them, instead of what I was: an almost-teenager that was too young for dating and who had always carried the label of “the smart one,” rather than “the pretty one.”

(FYI–it was definitely not because of my parents that this thinking happened. It started with two unknown teenage boys at Lagoon who passed me on the sky ride–where they were rating every girl that came past them from the opposite direction–and yelled “ugly!” as they both broke down into snickers and guffaws.)

(The most recent picture of my sisters and me, taken at my cousin’s wedding dinner last week)


When I was fifteen, I was shocked when a boy (and one that I liked, no less) told me that I was beautiful. Luckily for me, he was a decent-enough guy because I was so attention-hungry that I could have gotten myself into some real trouble.

My turbulent junior high and high school days followed, which consisted of varying degrees of confidence in my looks.

That confidence, however, always lay in makeup, not in my face going au naturale.

With time, I became overall more and more confident in my looks until I dated a string of guys in late high school and college who were all a little too honest for their own good (or mine). They said things like:

[while grabbing my stomach] “Got a bit of a bagel here, do we?

[while breaking up with me] “I know I’m fully capable of dating someone more beautiful than  you”

or, my personal favorite:

“You know, sometimes I’ll look at you and ask myself why I’m even pursuing this. But then I’ll see you all dressed up on Sunday, and then I’ll remember why I found you so attractive.” (Talk about a backhanded compliment! Of course, this came from the guy who flat-out told me he found me unattractive with my hair pulled back in any kind of ponytail.)

I think most girls (except perhaps the most beautiful) go through something like this in their lifetimes.

(Oh wait, only I heard this kind of jerky stuff from my boyfriends? Dang.)

Luckily, I got smart and ended up with a guy who frequently tells me I’m beautiful when I’m looking my grungiest—when I have no makeup on and my hair’s tied back in a knot and I’m lounging around the house in sweats.

So why is it that I still feel like I can’t leave the house without makeup?

I’m not sure if I have the answers (although I’m sure I could start delving into my obsession with magazines as a start, or the looming media messages at large), but these things have been in my thoughts lately.

And I know I’ve taken a mostly negative slant on all this, but I’ve also considered it from the other angle: my wearing makeup daily means that I take pride in who I am and that I want to show my best face to the world. It means that I haven’t “let myself go” and that I care enough about myself that I look professional.

Or it could just mean that I’m vain.

Whatever it is, or whatever the reason, a small part of me wants to try and become a little more comfortable in my own [natural] skin, and I figured posting a makeup-free picture of myself on my blog was the first place to start.

(And then right after it, posting two pictures of me with makeup on.)

How often do you go without makeup? Are you comfortable going without?

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