Monday, December 12, 2016

No Makeup Shake-Up

“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams. And you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl

This all started three weeks ago when I was preparing for work one morning.

Every morning I would go through my “getting ready” routine, while my youngest daughter came in and brushed her hair with me. I put on my makeup, my jewelry, brushed my hair, and completed the whole hoopla of the routine.

But one morning a few weeks ago, she was mindlessly playing with some of my earrings in the earring dish and just sighed, “You’re pretty, Mom.”

Somewhat startled by the out-of-the-blue-at-6:45-in-the-morning compliment, I smiled and said, “Thank you, honey. That is so nice to hear.”

“You’re even prettier when you don’t try to be.”

She said this as I was reaching for my face powder. I stopped, looked at her, and saw her earnest little eleven-year-old face watching me. Watching my every move. Taking it all in. How to be a woman. How to “prepare” for a day.

This was one of those moments that come along every so often. One of those moments that – as parents – we can either seize and make the most of, or just let pass us right by as if they mean nothing.

This was not a do-nothing moment.

I seized it.

“What are you thinking about? Right this minute?” I asked her.

“I want to ask you to do something,” she said. “But you have to trust me. Because I know you won’t want to do it.”

I was utterly perplexed. This is not the way I thought this was about to go. I was expecting a question, or one of her older-than-she-ought-to-be observations. I was not expecting a request.

“Okay, what do you want me to do?”

“I want you to not wear makeup today. Please?”


“Not wear makeup to work? But I’m teaching today.”

But then, in a flash, I thought about it. Wearing makeup doesn’t make me a better teacher. It doesn’t make me smarter. It doesn’t, in any way, help me function better at my job. After a while, in fact, it becomes more a kind of armor to hide behind than a palette to enhance beauty.

“You know what? Ok. No makeup for me today.”

Emma positively beamed at me. Her eyes lit up; she smiled bigger than she has smiled in years. Even her skin glowed. She threw her arms around me and hugged me tightly.

Thus began my journey into makeup-free. For a little over three weeks now I haven’t worn makeup. It’s oddly liberating, as if I’m getting to know myself all over again. I wear Burt’s Bees on my lips, a little moisturizer on my skin, and that’s it. I’m good to go.

I am not averse to wearing makeup. But when I do, it will be because I want to, and not because I feel like I am supposed to, or as if it is expected of me. What I have learned in the past three weeks (and counting) is that I am not defined by how others perceive me. It all comes back to learning to love the gift of myself, inside and out.

Every day, I encourage body positivity with my daughters. I teach them that they are worth loving, that no part of them deserves to be hidden or dismissed. The best gift I have gotten was my daughter returning that wisdom to me.

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