This past Wednesday, July 12th marked Simplicity Day. Originally, when I contemplated what to post for this Everyday Holiday, I thought about how sweet and simple it would be to share a picture of blossoming flowers or a flowing river. I mean, the holiday was originally created to honor Henry David Thoreau #fastfacts. Suffice to say, it was not on the top of my list to post a picture of myself, sans makeup.
So I hesitated. And I wrote words. And I changed words. And I posted it. And then I regretted it.
Eventually, after the dust of the remains of my ego settled, I was okay, well, better than okay. I felt deeply connected to people–some whom I know well and some whom I know distantly–in a oddly profound way. The complements and words of encouragement were difficult to receive, as I didn’t want the post to be gratuitous or self-serving. But beyond the niceties, there were real, powerful words exchanged between people, and it was beautiful.
The internal and external meet in a swirl of perceptions when it comes to self-concept and self-worth. I’m trying to remind myself that how I talk about who I am and how I look has a direct, profound impact on myself and others.
Rewind back to college, sophomore year to be specific. I was again contemplating my understanding of beauty and, of my own accord, decided to quite literally “peel back the layers,” one by one. Each day for a week, I wore one less item of make-up until, by the end of the week, I was bare-faced. I thought the slow process would help me ease into a more natural state, while taking stock of my feelings daily to see how the process was changing me internally as well.
As the week started to wind down, I shared what I was up to with a friend. With audible shock in her voice, she said, “Not even mascara?! You can at least wear mascara.”
Of course, I was bucky and determined enough to not wear mascara that final day. It was, however, the last item of make-up I willingly left off my face. To this day, almost 10 years later, mascara is still the one thing I must have on my face before going to the grocery store, filling up my car with gas, or attending a yoga class. It’s funny how words and presuppositions stick.
Mascara, or any other additions or subtractions we make to our appearance, are not evil in and of themselves, of course. If we like how our our skin feels with a certain product or enjoy curling our hair, why not go for it! However, if some derivative of comparison, shame, or obligation comes into play, pumping the breaks might be in order.
I believe true, character shaping moments come when we ask ourselves not if we need these things but why we need these things. It’s the simple difference between, “I feel awesome after a facial. Clean, refreshed, and more confident,” versus, “My skin is a train wreck. If I don’t get a facial at least once a month, it’s game over.”
Self-talk matters, whether it’s spoken under your breath or at the top of your lungs. A simple, yet challenging truth I don’t think I’ll ever fully grasp. If this week has taught be anything, however, it’s that I’m not alone. We all see ourselves “through a mirror dimly” at times–blurring out the best and brightest of who we are and what we’ve accomplished.
So, my friends, here’s to simplicity. Here’s to self-care. Here’s to a better vision of beauty.