Let’s get real: we all struggle with self-esteem sometimes.
Especially in the new era of social media and constant comparison (hello mindlessly scrolling through models IG pages). While we might be looking for inspiration or motivation, this can sometimes lead to feeling down about ourselves and wanting to change who we are, instead of celebrating her.
Well, I was deep in that slump not too long ago when I was encouraged to try going makeup-free for the month of January.
While I’m not somebody who owns an eye shadow palette (I steal my roommates) or throws on a bold lip, I definitely use makeup products daily. Everyone’s reason for wearing makeup is so different, which is the beauty of it (pun intended 😉 ). Some of us use it for creative expression, to enhance our natural features, or to keep up with the latest beauty trend.
So to start my January experiment, I asked myself, “why do I use makeup?” And my honest answer was pretty, well… real.
I realized I wear makeup to cover up imperfections/blemishes and present a version of myself that I think (or hope) people will approve of. This quickly went from a fun test run to something much deeper for me. At first, I didn’t connect this “challenge” to self-esteem, but over time it became so clear to me how connected these two things were.
I couldn’t go to my workout class without putting concealer on the pimple that ruined my life that morning. I couldn’t look someone in the eye if I knew my eyelashes weren’t bolded with mascara. I avoided my boyfriend holding my face during a sunset if I had a breakout I had brilliantly hid from him all day (high fiving myself for my artistry).
Why was I so focused on covering up the things that don’t define who I am? Pimples don’t block your personality – your mind does. So then training season began.
Training season to start loving myself (scary, I know).
SO, after 31 days of no foundation, no mascara, no eyebrow pencil (yikes), and only occasionally reaching for my concealer (don’t judge me!) here is what I took away from this experience:
An overnight fix is straight up BS
Don’t they say it takes 21 days to break a habit? While I can proudly say ditching foundation, mascara, and my eyebrow pencil were pretty immediate, my attachment to my concealer was harder to break. I learned that getting used to my bare face (or trying anything new for that matter) doesn’t happen overnight – so don’t put pressure on yourself. After all, this is something FOR YOU not against you. Be patient with yourself and, most of all, be kind.
Maybe start with skipping mascara for the day, then try blush the next day – slow and steady, baby. After about a week or so I started to get used to my bare complexion and was covering up less and less. It ultimately led me to realize that blemishes and marks are normal and not something to be so hard on ourselves for. It also reintroduced me to myself, just how I’m meant to be.
Developing our self-esteem is hard and takes time
I used to think self-esteem was how great you felt about your physical appearance, sad I know. I recently listened to a podcast episode (shout out to The Skinny Confidential) where they talked about the truth behind self-esteem, and I took away a genius perspective. The guest, Ed Mylett, spoke about how self-esteem is developed by making promises to yourself that you actually follow through on. I was mind blown. Feeling confident in yourself has very little to do with your outward appearance and everything to do with how you treat yourself.
If you’re constantly making promises and not keeping them, how can you feel good about yourself? This challenge forced me to make promises and keep them. I promise to not wear mascara turned into, I promise to drink a glass of lemon water every morning to, I promise to stop overspending to, I promise to try harder at not projecting. I’ve kept all of these promises (although I’m back to wearing mascara here and there!) and I can definitely say I feel so much better about myself.
Thinking that you (or someone else) looks beautiful is not shameful
While I’m basically trying to say that our outward appearance isn’t everything, that doesn’t discredit the positive power of a compliment. This was a big realization for me, mostly in regards to myself, but also in realizing how subconsciously competitive we are as women. Do you ever let someone else’s beautiful appearance or personality make you feel less than? Well, I definitely have – and I needed to kick that to the curb because, ew.
Tell someone they look beautiful or that they have an infectious personality, without it having anything to do with you or your own appearance because (news flash), it doesn’t. Same thing in regards to yourself. If I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “Wow, I look really pretty today”, I instantly felt shame. But why? If I can celebrate that in others, I can certainly do the same for myself. Now when I think I look or feel good, I embrace it and welcome the positivity that comes with it – especially when bare-faced.
These 31 days yielded a lot of mental reflection that I really wasn’t expecting.
I initially thought maybe my skin would be more clear, maybe I’ll save more money because I won’t want to leave the house (partially kidding), but in all seriousness, it really forced me to do a massive self-check.
An article in Psychology Today stated, “outward appearance can have a powerful influence on self-esteem” – and I totally agree with that statement. But, what if we edited that statement to shift the focus inward? Ater all, our bodies are simply the shell holding all of the goodness of who we really are. I’m walking away from my 31 makeup-free (ish) days not focused on what my face looks like that day, but instead being mindful that what is on the inside is what truly reflects on the outside.
So I want to encourage you to take your time with new challenges in your life, start making promises to yourself that you can keep, and to celebrate yourself and all the beautiful women in your life or who might just be passing by.