Right now, on this beautiful sunny afternoon, in which I am writing this, I am proud to say that I have no problem owning my bare-faced no-makeup look.
I might be lying a little, because I am wearing a few coats of mascara, but you get my point.
In my eyes, this is a cause for celebration, because I am no longer a slave to makeup. I am sitting here in my local coffee shop, without a drop of foundation or blush, and haven’t had an anxiety attack as a result.
In fact, I am loving my near-naked face. Hallelujah! Where was I hiding all of this time? Unfortunately, it was behind heavy layers of makeup, hair extensions, color contacts, and Instagram filters. The more, the merrier. I represented everything that is wrong with the makeup and beauty industry as a whole.
For the first 24 years of my life, I fell for the unrealistic beauty standards that are bombarding us all. I had taken on a submissive and dependent role, with my dominant being the umbrella of all things makeup, beauty, and fitness related.
I had sold my soul. My confidence was completely reliant on how I was seen in a superficial sense. In other words, it was a false sense of confidence that depended on hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of makeup and hair care products.
There was always something more that I needed to buy in order to get closer to my skewed aesthetic vision of beauty. Sadly, I couldn’t stand on my own without all of it. Who was I fooling with this facade?
Before you assume I am bashing the globalized beauty industry and get defensive, hear me out loves:
My intention behind this piece isn’t to protest against the lotions and potions that we all adore, but I am simply trying to wake us all up so we stop trying so hard to achieve unattainable perfection. It doesn’t exist, and it shouldn’t be strived for.
Feeling beautiful inside and out, in my opinion, is one of the major pillars of a vibrant life in our society. And, people from all walks of life place a lot of emphasis on achieving satisfaction in this department. However, many are doing so at the costs of their sanity and are inflicting more harm upon themselves than they could possibly imagine.
Some of us become so hypnotized by this addictive and glittery world that we don’t even realize we are being controlled by it. “Ignorance is bliss,” as they say. The countless marketing campaigns, Instagram pseudo-models, and beauty magazines are all playing their part in getting into our heads, and oftentimes, working their magic. It may not be visible from the outside, but the more we lose ourselves in the throes of the beauty industry, the less of ourselves will be left on the inside. I was one of these individuals just a short while ago.
Once upon a time, I would wake up before sunrise and meditate for two hours to the sound of birds chirping and wind rustling, becoming one with the universe.
My morning routine was as far away from inner work as you could imagine. I would lock myself in the bathroom for hours every morning doing a totally different kind of meditation.
It was one that involved pounds of makeup, skin care and hair care products, many of which were harmful for my physical and psychological well-being. I was in a state of perceived stillness and awareness, but in a way that wasn’t doing me any good.
Nobody around me could interfere with my routine or drag me anywhere without waiting for me to finish slabbing on anything I could find. I was sucked into a vortex of perfectionism, a kind of trance-like state, whenever I would look in the mirror each morning.
There was a need for manipulating my face and body in ways that made it easy for me to appear picture-perfect, as opposed to natural. Similar to any addict, I was numbing my true feelings of self-doubt by hiding behind thick veils of makeup.
A balanced healthy approach wasn’t in place, so my shattered self-assurance kept me on a constant quest for my next hit of anything beauty. Rather than growing on the inside and seeking true ways of working through my insecurities and stunted self-esteem, I resorted to an overpowering fixation with all things external.
However, at the end of the day, when I had to remove the layers upon me, my problems were still present, and I was still at square one. So off I would go, looking for the next big thing I could buy. There was always something out there that could melt away my lack of fulfillment and self-love, at least for a short time. I allowed the influential contemporary world of beauty to make decisions for me. Essentially, I was utilizing a bandage approach of covering up my perceived flaws with chemical concoctions that were produced in laboratories.
Fortunately, I found a way out.
It has been roughly one year since I have left the fantasy world of peripheral beauty, as I finally grew tired of comparing myself to photoshopped models and human Barbies. It had become a never-ending hamster wheel of disappointment, as I always seemed to fall short of what I strove for.
Something had to give, as I had no clue who I was without a cake-face and that reality terrified me. Once I had this epiphany and realized how deeply lost I was that is when I began to pursue ways of loving myself for reasons that went beyond perfectly-contoured cheekbones or sultry-nude lips.
I dove head first into a yoga practice, meditation, and other inward pursuits. Ever since I have filled up my self-fulfillment meter, I have naturally given up the need to keep up with the Kardashians. The more and more I discovered my natural gifts, and thereby deepened the connection I had with myself, the less I resorted to tampering with my physical image.
I became my own best friend and couldn’t bear to be so hard on myself anymore. There was an evident relationship between my engagement in soul-nourishing pursuits and my decreasing infatuation with my looks. I realized that the physical vessels we embody are not our entirety, nor are they immortal and that our real beauty lies within. At the end of our lives, when we are no longer young and outwardly beautiful, we will be most remembered for our positive marks on the world, our compassion, and how much we loved. Our flawless faces and unnaturally small waists won’t really matter, yet our beaming souls will.
In order to end our reliance on external beauty, it is important that we treat makeup as something that we utilize in our lives on occasion, rather than the “end all-be-all” for feeling beautiful. Balance is key in everything that we do in life, beauty or otherwise. Let’s have fun with makeup and glam without allowing this world to dominate us, as that is when the potential for more harm than good arises.
A great way to implement this philosophy into our daily lives, is through having makeup-free days throughout our week, where we embrace ourselves wholeheartedly without altering our natural canvases.
Or we can opt for an outer-beauty detox. This is characterized by spending a period of time developing our inner beauty and giving our physical bodies an opportunity to take a rest from an influx of beauty products. One thing I did at the beginning of my journey, is slowly removing unnecessary beauty products from my routine, such as highlighter, concealer, and eyeliner. I realized they made no difference in my appearance and actually hid a lot of my natural glow.
We all have something we can take out of our beauty routines in order to simplify them. Before going into a beauty mega-store or trying to learn the latest beauty trend, ask yourselves whether you truly need this new product or this celebrity trend in order to be happy. If we come to the conclusion that a product or a procedure are non-negotiable requirements for our contentment, then perhaps, we can ask ourselves why that is and dive deeper into where this attachment arose from.
Let’s learn to make conscious decisions around beauty, and draw from within ourselves rather than listening to what the industry as a whole wants us to do. Now that we have developed boundaries with the beauty industry, we can then proceed to enjoy the positive aspects of it.
The companies out there that produce our favorite makeup lines can still be highly appreciated for their creativity and contributions. Most of my kudos go to the natural-green beauty lines that are popping up everywhere, as they have the least harmful effects on our sacred bodies.
A world without makeup and beauty would be colorless! I will admit that mascara and a nude lip haven’t taken a backseat in my daily routine. I love to take care of myself, although I do not allow these products to use me anymore. You see, as long as we can learn to love ourselves without sole reliance on these products, then we know they have no say on our self-worth.
I truly wish that we all work towards looking beyond the surface and seek out means of merging with true self-realization. Whether it be through yoga, travel, dancing, or charity, there are many ways that we can tap into ourselves that reach way beyond what makeup is capable of.
Bare-faced or cake-faced, we are all uniquely beautiful beings who are worthy of love and admiration. Let’s not forget that.
Author: Shirin Karimi
Image: Cecil Cuthbert/ Flickr
Editor: Deb Jarrett