For Lent this year, I am giving up makeup. It's not altogether too difficult, as I only wear a little, sometimes more depending on the occasion. The tough part is giving up all the negative thoughts and actions associated with makeup, namely poor self-confidence, shallow vanity, and a worldly self-concept. Those are hefty things, I know. Let me walk you through my motivation for all this.
Since I was young, I have been obsessed with the idea of beauty, specifically made-up beauty. I loved to watch soap operas with my mom because the women were always made up so beautifully. I would stop at makeup counters in department stores and just stand in awe at the women putting the makeup on. Even in middle school and high school, I would watch infomercials about makeup because it fascinated me so much. I went through periods of time during high school when I would experiment with heavy makeup, wanting to see how much I could change my outward appearance, hoping maybe perhaps it would make me a different person underneath. What did I want to change? I still don't know. In college, I started wearing less and less makeup because it began to bother my skin. I became more comfortable in my facial nakedness pretty much out of necessity. I still enjoyed putting makeup on other people and watching other people do their own makeup, though. I loved the dramatic transformation; looking like one person one minute and after a few brush strokes and dabs with sponges, looking like someone else completely.
All this fed into a rather negative view of myself that accelerated throughout college and fully developed prior to having my daughter. I was unhappy with the choices I was making in life so I tried to supplement with makeup and became more and more obsessed with my appearance. It was only after I had Juniper that I started gaining confidence in myself through my abilities versus through my appearance. I became encouraged by all the things I could accomplish as a mother and as a woman, and as I went through my divorce, my inner strength slowly became the epicenter of my beauty. I started to realize, through compliments about my appearance on good days and the presence of energy and a deep sense of personal mission, that beauty does in fact begin in the soul and radiate outward.
So the old saying isn't true. Beauty is NOT only skin deep. Beauty is anything you want it to be. For me, beauty is strength. Beauty is resilience. Beauty is kindness. Beauty is honesty. Beauty is integrity. You can't purchase it at Sephora, or in the makeup aisle at Target. Reading magazines won't give you any secrets or tricks to beauty, and you won't even find it in the latest skin care line.
For Lent, I've chosen to give up so much more than makeup. I've chosen to give up that negative self-image. I've chosen to give up finding beauty in a bottle or in a magazine. I've chosen to find beauty in the One who created my beauty specifically for me. This beauty transcends all else:
"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the
putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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."
"She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a
tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are
This. THIS is beauty:
"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come."
So in the morning, instead of blush, I will put on strength and dignity. Instead of eyeliner, I will put on the beauty of a gentle spirit. Instead of mascara, I will put on pleasantness and peace. Instead of looking at the mirror and admiring my worldly mask, I will look into my heart and see that what has been planted there is good, and I will praise the Lover of my soul.