In October, while on a weekend getaway with the women of my family, we rented the movie, The Greatest Showman. I liked it. It was good – not spectacular. The title might have hyped up my expectations. I did quite like the music, and the songs decided to camp out in my head for the next few days. One of those songs was sung by the bearded lady, This Is Me.
I think it spoke to me as I had an inner self-confidence struggle that had been going on for the past couple of months. You see, I hate wearing makeup, but I follow the social norm that part of a woman looking her best is putting makeup on her face. I know I don’t have to, but I’m not much to go against the flow, and honestly I feel more confident when I do.
This summer when I was home recovering from surgery, I got out of the habit of putting makeup on as a part of my regular morning routine. It was very freeing to leave it behind. I never have a spare moment in the morning anyway, so saving time was great. I liked rubbing my eyes whenever I wanted and not worrying about smears, and it’s great to fall into bed when I’m tired without worrying about taking off ‘my face.’ When I went back to work, I was still not fully recovered, so using that as my excuse, I made my return to the work-a-day world, very hesitantly, without makeup.
No one openly stared, no one shrank back in horror, but I was still very self-conscious. Of course everyone knew I was still recovering and there were a number of inquiries about my health and my fatigue level. But I soon forgot I wasn’t wearing any makeup and went about business as usual. I admit I was startled a time or two when I pushed open the ladies room door and saw myself in the mirror above the sinks. Wow! I thought to myself, you look haggard.
And although it wasn’t long before I felt like my regular self and I was going to work each day with my fresh face, I still had an inner turmoil about my appearance. Our society judges on appearance. Heck, I know I’ve done it myself. It is one of the areas that I’ve worked on self-improvement. Ugly people, fat people, people who wear Crocs; people who are not like ‘us.’ Why do we make assumptions about people based on the way they look?
When I saw women at work or in social situations, I began taking note whether they were wearing makeup or not. For somebody who was trying to not care about makeup, I was getting a little obsessed about it. I started asking my friends why they did – or didn’t – wear makeup. I began to think of those not wearing makeup as brave.
I recently had brunch with two longtime friends. They are both younger than me, thinner than me, and more accomplished than me. But they are great friends and I feel confident in our relationship. I’ve seen them both without makeup and so I bravely went forth without my makeup, thinking maybe they would do the same. After all, it was Saturday morning brunch with non-judgmental friends.
I was a little self-conscious without my shield, especially when they both looked so great. But we had a great time talking about work, family, and shared memories. Feeling less than confident, but not wanting to miss the rare opportunity of the three of us together, I summoned my strength and suggested we take a picture together. I’m glad I did.
As we were leaving I couldn’t help but ask the question. Why did you put on makeup for our friends brunch? “I just feel more confident when I’m wearing makeup,” was the resounding answer. But I hate it. I hate that I have to cover my face to feel confident and I hate that other women do too. But they do, and so do I.
And I finally decided to quit railing against the machine. I’m giving up the inner turmoil. I still find it perplexing – I’m not smarter, or funnier, or kinder when I wear makeup – but I’m not spending any more time on it. If I need it to feel more confident while meeting with a client, or even just facing the day, I’ll wear it. And if I don’t want to – I won’t, knowing it shouldn’t matter, and won’t matter to people who know me, respect me, or love me. And I’ve also been listening to the words from the song of the bearded lady…
I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, This Is Me