I remember when I had my 13th birthday, I was taken to the Clinque counter at the mall to get a make over and splurge on nice make-up and products. It was the start of my need for make up. I idolized it as a sign of growing up, or being a grown up. As being beautiful and appearing to have it all together. For many years I wouldn’t leave the house without it. I wouldn’t take Christmas morning pictures without sleeping in it. It was my mask. My way of hiding my flaws, to look more awake, to feel more beautiful.
For many years I had a beauty routine that took over an hour to do each day. It went like this:
Shower, curl eyelashes, a layer of regular mascara, wipe off left over mascara around eyes, face lotion, liquid concealer under eyes and on blemishes, powder concealer over redness areas, powder foundation all over, eyeliner, another curl of eyelashes, another layer of waterproof mascara, a little bronzer on the cheeks, dry and style hair, brush teeth. Done.
Obviously, my routine took a while. It made me get up earlier than I truly needed to before school as a teenager and young adult. And most importantly, it made my daughter want to be like me, playing in my makeup and thinking she needed it to be beautiful, too. I felt like such a hypocrite telling her that its our heart and inner character that make us beautiful, not make-up. And yet I didn’t even believe it or live it myself.
I remember when I saw Melissa at Beautifully Chaotic post a make-up less picture a few months ago and the many others that followed. Women started Killing Monsters, and I thought, “That’s awesome for them! But, no way I could. I have the baggy tired eyes of little sleep interrupters and blemishes and uneven skin tone. They need to stay hidden.”
And then God started doing a cool thing in my life, without me really even asking.
Layers began to peel off, one at a time, in my routine over a few months. First the 2nd unneeded layer of mascara, then the eyeliner that I suddenly thought made my eyes look weird and more tired, then the foundation, then concealer. Each layer became unappealing to me as God helped me became aware that it wasn’t doing what I thought it was really doing, that it was a waste of time. I began looking in the mirror with little to no make-up on and thinking to myself, “You are beautiful, Leah” for the first time in a long time. Maybe not beautiful in the worldly magazine cover sense, with perfect even skin tone and eyelashes that reach for the ceiling, but with an inwardly glow that God was giving. God peeled away my mask and revealed His shine in me and the heart beauty He has created. That is far more beautiful to me, and far more the message I want my children to see. When I think of the strong Christian women in my life, most of them don’t wear make-up and yet are gorgeous in their glowing natural beauty. I want to be like that.
I don’t think make-up is necessary a bad thing, but the power I had let it hold over me, as I know it holds over many women, is what I do see as wrong. Its an idol. Its an illusion. Its fake. Yes, its fun to do makeovers with Savannah when we have our mommy-daughter sleepovers, and yes I still wear make-up occasionally. But that’s the key to me– moderation– as with most everything in life. I may wear it when I go on a date with my hubby, or to a wedding, but it no longer is daily focus. It no longer has a hold on me!
Its freeing not just on the inside, but on my piggy bank, too. I am no longer a slave to companies that I paid at least one hundred of dollars to each year. From a health stand point, it is less chemicals and junk on my skin, too! I also have more time on my hands. It’s easier to get out the door with 3 kids and I can sleep in longer if we have some where to go early. Woo to the hoo!
Freedom from my mask is freeing in so many ways. What a blessing this journey has been to me and I praise God for taking me on it. Not just for me, but for these kiddos, too. May they know what freedom feels like and where true beauty come from, whether they are seeking to be beautiful/handsome themselves or how they perceive other’s beauty.
What’s neat is that often Mark or friends now will ask me, “Are you wearing make-up today?” And I tell them no, and I am told that I look beautiful or great and you can’t even tell. Now tell me, what was the point of my mask if I didn’t even need it? What a lie I believed for so long.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV)
3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.