Welcome to Liz’s Lemonade Stand, where the lemons of life are twisted into the sweetest lemonade.
As a natural resources student, you might expect that the only beauty product I own is a bar of soap. Contrary to the stereotype, at this moment, I own three kinds of mascara, two eye shadow pallets, one eyeliner pencil, and an eyelash curler. I keep my morning routine simple: liquid foundation and a quick check of the forecast. Rain today? Better use waterproof mascara. Occasionally, if I’m feeling fancy or artistic, I’ll play around with eye shadow, but nine times out of ten, I’m simply too lazy. However, if it’s Sunday, then the makeup stays off my face.
Self-declared no makeup days have taken me a very long time to get comfortable with. Like every human being wandering around today’s advertisement-plastered world, I too am inadvertently influenced by the beauty standards set by glowing Photoshopped spreads. I have very blonde eyelashes- a trivial, genetically determined feature that I felt insecure about. For a period of time, I disliked even going to the grocery store without my eyelashes darkened by mascara. If I had been lounging around my house all day sans mascara but then needed to run an errand, off to the bathroom cabinet I’d scamper for my tube of confidence. Insecurities like this plagued my awkward years; I know I am not alone in these sentiments.
Finally, this year, I decided that enough was enough. I was irritated that my sense of self-confidence was being derived solely from a little bristled wand, yet I couldn’t just let it go either. Years of body image struggle had rooted the idea that my eyelashes weren’t good enough deep in my mind. Luckily, college brought some amazing young women into my life that have taught me the value of being comfortable in my own skin without makeup. I envied their ability to be so at ease without altering their appearance to fit societal expectations. And you know what? They are just as beautiful as the girls in Photoshopped ads. Despite this, the pest in the back of my mind continued to feed me a diet of lies, and I remained convinced that I needed my mascara to look and feel even remotely good.
This unhealthy cycle finally cracked, but it took a great deal of courage for me to overcome my mental
stumbling block. I’ve set Sunday aside as my 100% no makeup day because it helps me remember that I do not need makeup to be beautiful or feel confident about my appearance. I am in no way condemning the girls who wear heavy makeup; I just question girls’ motives for wearing it. I believe that before the makeup goes on, you need to feel good about yourself. The makeup is there to enhance your beauty; natural beauty radiates when you believe in it. Yes, my eyes stand out when I wear mascara, and yes, I like accenting that particular feature. But, I let myself fall into the trap of only feeling confident when I altered my appearance ever so slightly.
I’m a work in progress, and I have yet to really get it into my head that I can go au natural on a school day. When you’re used to wearing a mask- even one as minimal as just mascara- it’s scary to walk out from behind it. Personally, if I go to class without mascara on, I feel like everyone that speaks to me must be thinking about my lack of makeup and how ugly I am without it. These are foolish things to be fixated on! I have much more important things to be worried about, but I get stuck in a rut of self-shaming. Buying into believing in myself more and the media less is a slow process and some days are better than others.
I do not need makeup to feel amazing. That feeling after a solid run? It will be the same regardless of what my face looks like. The laughs I shared with my friends? Laughter is not determined by the colors on my eyelids. Buying apples and peanut butter at the store? The clerk doesn’t care how much time I spent in front of the mirror.
I recently skimmed over an article on quick ways to streamline your morning routine; I don’t remember the title or source, but one thing in particular has stuck in my memory like a flare. The article said that every woman should make time for mascara, no matter what. It mentioned something about looking fresh-faced and alert. Hold up: you can’t look awake without mascara? Huh?
The beauty industry urges girls and women alike to be confident in femininity, to be bold, sexy, beautiful. Where they have it wrong though is in trying to sell that in a bottle or apply it with a brush; beauty and confidence comes from believing in yourself first. I hope that some day a woman can walk into work with her uniform or business suit on and no makeup and still be taken seriously, not as someone slovenly. You are a masterpiece of several million years of evolution, so embrace it.