“No other version, no matter how perfect it is, would ever feel better than being your true self.” – Edmond Mbiaka
Whilst away on holiday last week, a thought came to my mind which to someone on the outside might seem somewhat ridiculous, but to me, it meant a lot and sat close to my heart. I contemplated –
“Why do I wear so much makeup?”
Yes, you read that right. It all started with me getting ready one morning and instead of staying in bed for 30 minutes extra I got up to ‘put my face on’ and make myself look ‘presentable’. For the first time, I felt like I was wasting my precious time which could be spent more productively.
I will take a step back and talk about my younger self and the origin of all these problems.
When I was a teenager and was going through all the body changes and hormone fluctuations, I had a horrible skin. It was always an issue. Either continuous breakouts or actual acne cysts, it was always a battle for me and my mum really did try to help me; she took me to the cosmetologist and dermatologists and bought me expensive skincare but nothing worked. I remember thinking, ‘I can’t wait to grow up and be an adult just so all these problems would disappear’. I was wrong really, as my skin issues haunted me until the age of 21, I just knew how to manage it better but the point is I was so unconfident, shy and I used to have waist-long hair which I always tried to hide my face in. I thought the fewer people see my face, the better.
So from the age of 13, every morning I would smother my face in foundation and various creams to try to cover and hide it all as much as I could. At first it was foundations that wouldn’t even match my neck and some kids would tease me at school, then it was BB creams and CC creams which would make my skin oily and then I went through a period of getting facials done which dried my skin out so much that I would walk around with skin peeling, leaving me with a horrible texture and flakes. Oh, how I hated these times!
But it is because of the above that resulted in low self-esteem and lack of confidence that only now at the age of 27 am I starting to overcome. 13 years of my life! Seems crazy right?
Last week on Tuesday I thought ‘enough is enough’! And I truly felt like that for the first time in my life.
I want to try to embrace being me. Just the way I am; I want to be able to wake up and go to the gym with no makeup on first thing in the morning.
I want to be able to go to work although with not a complete mess of a look, but without 30 minutes worth of a do-over; I want my skin to breathe and feel natural without all the layering I used to plaster on.
If I take it further, then all this makeup really was a cover-up for a long time to feel more confident, to be ‘prettier’, to hide a bad night sleep etc. It’s a mask! Well, I am challenging myself to take that mask off and I am now almost 5 days into that challenge, pushing myself to be stronger.
On Saturday, I went to the airport and the flight with only a tweak of mascara and a little bit of a blush. Believe me, this felt like a torture because I thought that everyone will be staring at me, judging my face and my enlarged pores. Somehow, I survived?
On Sunday I spent half a day at home completely makeup-less and when I went to the gym in the afternoon, again I only dabbed a bit of mascara on and concealer under my eyes. Again, I felt so self-conscious because it feels as if everyone is staring at you. The best way to describe the way I feel with no makeup on is naked. I felt naked as if I forgot to put clothes on that day. Do you relate?
On Monday, the hardest thing to do was to adopt the same approach for going to work. This really is a place where I need my ‘face’ on. That’s how people know me and I was terrified going without my cover-up. I put mascara on and a bit of under-eye concealer so I look awake, but otherwise I embraced it and went just like that. Guess what? Nothing happened. If anything, people complimented me on my new, shorter hair!
The best thing happened on Tuesday morning when I went to a 6:45am spin class and all I had to do was get up and grab my stuff in the morning. Best. Feeling. Ever. I went completely bare-faced because I would have to shower and start from scratch afterwards anyhow, but it felt so liberating and effortless! I didn’t feel self-cautious for the first time and I thought I could get used to this. It felt even better when a guy at the same class smiled and me and said ‘morning’, as I thought to myself ‘Well, I mustn’t be as scary as I thought’.
It’s stupid, I know but unfortunately, this is me. The raw, real me.
The point I am trying to make is that don’t be scared to overcome your fears because to me this really was a fear. All people close to me know that I never leave the house without my ‘face’ on but I really did think it was time for a change and empowerment. Because, why not? Why cannot I just be me? Of course, I can, but I need to find power and willingness from within first. I am doing it for me.
Putting make-up on or my ‘face’ on as I call it isn’t a bad thing, you do you as they say but I realised that I should truly be doing it for me, not for appearances or let alone other people. If I wake up one day and feel like a make-up day is in order, then fair play – it is my decision but I shouldn’t feel that it is compulsory, I shouldn’t feel it be mandatory which is what it had become for me throughout the battles with myself over the past 13 years. Time for a change.
Don’t be afraid to listen to yourself, push yourself, challenge yourself and most importantly face your fears, it is the only way to change and grow.
I hope this post was useful and encouraging to you wherever in the world you are.