While I was recording a podcast last week the subject of makeup came up. We were talking about the feeling that many women (and even young girls!) have that they need to change their face, cover it up, make it look a certain way and hide any imperfections before they can be seen by the world.
My guest – Nancy Woodward, the director of Girls on the Run in Connecticut – said that in her family growing up “you just didn’t go outside without a full face of makeup, that’s just how it was. You weren’t presentable without it.”
She grew up thinking it wasn’t okay to show up anywhere as she really looked, and by no means is she alone.
The beauty industry which generated $445 billion in 2017 according to Forbes, thrives off this fear. This idea that all people, but especially women, need to constantly be working to perfect and change what they look like. The industry has made some changes in recent years as many female entrepreneurs attempt to make more health-centered products, but honestly if everyone was comfortable with how they looked and valued their quirks and differences there is no way that on average women would be spending $15,000 on makeup throughout their lifetime according to People Magazine!
This year the theme for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Come as You Are. Not who you or others think you should be, but how you really are no matter your size, gender, style – whatever.
Although primarily people have been discussing coming as you are in terms of body size (naturally since it is about eating disorders), the first thing I thought of when I heard the theme was what Nancy had said to me. I thought about all the girls and women – most of whom do not have an eating disorder – who need to hear this message. All the girls and women who need to realize it is okay to go ANYWHERE without makeup and they aren’t ugly or worse for doing it.
As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder, struggles with feeling comfortable in their body and is finally able to be honest about her pants size for the first time ever – I get how it feels to want to cover up. I get that makeup might make you feel safe or pretty, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But as someone who has never worn makeup to anything except dance recitals, I also understand how wonderful it feels to truly come as I am. I love that I can wake up 10 minutes before I leave the house and that my boyfriend and I take the same amount of time to get ready for events. I love that I don’t have to wipe my face off before going to bed and that I don’t spend a single penny on beauty supplies.
I feel remarkably blessed that my mom has never bought mascara or lipstick in her life. That my mom set an example for me to not worry so much about what you look like, but to put that energy toward good. To do something to help make the world a better place in those hours (that really do add up) that I otherwise would be putting on makeup.
And that’s what I’ve tried to do.
This morning, instead of putting on makeup I woke up and played with my three incredibly cute and funny nephews (they certainly didn’t notice that my eyes were pale and tired and my skin was dry). This afternoon I sat in a coffee shop working (or at least trying to) in sweat pants, a t-shirt and no makeup. Honestly there was probably some baby spit up still stuck on me somewhere. Tonight, I’m going out to dinner. I put on a nice shirt, some pants that fit well and combed my hair. The whole process took about 10 minutes.
If people think I look nice, that’s great. If people think I look like I could’ve used some makeup, that’s totally fine with me. I’m going to come as I am, and I hope you will too!
Happy end of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week to everyone.