By Sheba Siddiqui
Every so often, I like to remove a luxury in my life for a few days, weeks, or months and see how it affects me. I never want to be too dependent on anything. Whether it be my television, cellphone or eating habits, I like to change it up a bit and see how my body, mind and soul react to it.
I wear makeup to hide my flaws. At least, I thought that was the only reason. I want to hide my tired eyes, to enhance my short lashes, to make my skin look healthy and glowing all the time and my lips glossy with a hue of pink. I use blush to emphasize my cheekbones so they appear more chiseled and lean. Last summer, I decided to scrap it all. I think I became annoyed with myself. I felt like I was being deceitful in how I present myself. But more importantly, I felt like I wasn't comfortable showing the world who I really am and what I genuinely look like. That bothered me more than anything else.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't think everyone wears makeup to hide their flaws. In fact, I would think it's the opposite, that people actually like to wear makeup because...well they just LIKE to wear makeup! And through this process, I've realized that it's not all about hiding flaws for me. Like many others, I also actually enjoy wearing makeup. It's just as fun to dress up now as when I was five years old.
Ironically this abstention wasn't planned. I came up with the idea after an evening of celebration. I flew to Calgary to attend one of my bff's weddings. I was feeling fat from baby weight after my second child, could not find anything flattering to wear and was stressed from life with two babies and no sleep. So I found the only outfit that I thought was somewhat appealing that I could fit into, did my hair, put on a lot of makeup and then looked at my reflection in the mirror. I really didn't like what I saw. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I suffer from a low self-esteem. In fact, I'm normally a pretty confident person. I just didn't like what was looking back at me.
I'm not much of a makeup person to begin with, maybe some mascara, some powder if it's hot out and occasionally eyeliner when it's a special celebration. My lip gloss of choice has not changed since I was 15 years old: Vaseline. It's probably the one thing I can't live without. So looking at my reflection, I felt like I needed a confidence builder. In the past, I've often tried to do things to build my confidence; things that scare me (learning to ride a motorcycle), things that force me to become more comfortable with myself (going out to dinner or a movie alone) and lately, learning to love what my mama gave me -- my all-natural face.
So I spent the rest of our vacation in Banff not wearing an ounce of makeup. Through the swanky restaurants, the site seeing, high tea at Lake Louise and visiting family and friends, I was makeup-less. And I loved it. I loved waking up, taking a shower and going out for the day. I was incredibly low maintenance. It was such a good, fresh, clean and natural feeling. So that week, I decided to see how long I could last without wearing any makeup. 110 days. That's how long I lasted.
Through all the birthdays, BBQ's, weddings and dinner parties I attended during this time, I did not wear any makeup. I often had people telling me how tired I looked. My reply to them was that I am in fact feeling tired. I take care of a baby and a toddler all day long, of course I'm tired. I take 20 minutes to get ready for a wedding. It's great on one end...until I see the pictures afterward and inwardly cringe that my eyes look so washed out. I look back on celebration pictures with my kids and wonder if they will think their mother was pretty 20 years from now. But this is what I set out to do. To love those washed out eyes and that tired face.
I realized I was going to have to make a choice when I decided to go back to work. You see, I work in television. In my industry, when you are on TV, you must wear makeup. And pounds of it. When I get done up for a show, my makeup artist layers the makeup on. This is because everything needs to look enhanced for television, otherwise it will barely be noticeable. You are not only representing yourself, but also the network that you work for. So it has to be as good as it can get. Which I guess is the straw that broke the camel's back. I had my makeup artist come over for a test run shortly before the season started. And she did what she does best, layer the makeup on. When she was finished, I didn't even recognize myself. I hadn't seen those extra-long lashes, those shimmery eyelids, rosy cheeks and pouty lips in forever.
The fact is, I miss wearing makeup.
I miss enhancing the features I like best about myself. Did I achieve part of my goal of becoming more secure with my authentic self? I'm not entirely sure. I know that I am capable of walking into a 500 person wedding without an ounce of makeup and feeling comfortable and confident. I know that most, if not all of my social circle has now seen my face, repeatedly, as God has given it to me. But I also think that it might be nice to occasionally feel more feminine. I know that I've achieved being able to go anywhere all-naturally but I think that once in a while, and only when I am in the mood, I will wear makeup, because I enjoy wearing makeup...regardless of how frustrated my husband gets at how long I am taking to get ready.
Could you go without makeup? How long would you last? How does wearing makeup make you feel?
Read more of Sheba's stories on masalamommas:
Preparing for a Boy, Hoping for a Girl
How Marital Therapy Saved My Marriage Before it Even Began
Follow Sheba on twitter: @shebasid