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BIS LIVES

Why I Gave Up Makeup

we are the work of his hands

“The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing women that they looked better in their makeup.” // Mackelmore

I’ve never had perfectly clear skin; therefore, I’ve done everything I can to strive for that perfection. Washing my face. Going to the dermatologist. Getting prescription after prescription. Benzoyl peroxide. Clean and clear. Proactiv. You name it; I’ve probably considered using it. I started using makeup in the 7th grade and it’s become a crutch ever since for pesky pimples which only ends up contributing more to the problem.

One day, I got out of the shower and started looking at my skin. I had a few, new pimples and thought to myself, “I’m 19 years old and I’m seriously still self conscious about my skin? Well of course I am… acne was supposed to end AFTER puberty, right? Is Saint Rose playing a trick on me?”

Saint Rose was a humble woman who chose to rub her face with pepper until it was red so that people would stop pursuing her. She had already given her heart to Jesus and had no desire to be admired in that way.

I’m not Saint Rose, but I think what she was getting at was important. She knew she was beautiful and didn’t want to live her life in vain, so naturally she found the root of her vanity and avoided all sinful distractions. In a similar way, I knew I had to find the root of my vanity, too. Who cares if I had a few zits? After many frustrated phone calls with my mom complaining about how nothing ever works for me, I started thinking about my makeup. What if I didn’t wear it anymore?

Staring in the mirror with my mascara in hand, I thought about it. I NEVER left the house without my mascara. Psh, over my dead body! It’s my staple makeup product. I LOVE my long eyelashes and it’s a total confidence booster. But what if I did something crazy? After 4-6 years of wearing it pretty much every day, what if I gave it up? The average person probably wouldn’t. But like Saint Rose, I was willing to give my heart to Christ, maybe not in the same way, but still significantly.

I knew I had a problem when I would wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, “Hmm…not good enough. Blush would make me look better. Maybe just a little lip gloss…that would do the trick.”

But here’s the thing: It’s the work of the devil to be able to look at yourself straight in the eye and completely miss out on seeing all the hard work and time that God took in creating you. I think that far too many gorgeous women are missing out on noticing their innate God-given beauty, too. We’re missing out on seeing ourselves in His image and likeness, and for me, this needed to be corrected.

So I gave up makeup for Lent. For 40 days I didn’t put anything artificial on my face. At first it was difficult because I was still having a tough time believing that I was beautiful without the foundation to cover up my “imperfections.” I still had difficult conversations on the phone with my mom. I had good days, I had bad days, but I ended up surprising myself. Overall, I felt fantastic. Sure, I would get a few pimples here and there. It was difficult to stare at them and not do anything to make myself believe that they’re not there, but then it became easier to actually embrace them. It became easier to love myself regardless of what was on the outside. I started to love myself for what was on the inside. I was becoming more authentically myself.

Not far into Lent, I also started giving up straightening or curling my hair for long periods of time, too. I loved getting an extra 30 minutes in the morning to sleep in and then walk to the Chapel to say Morning Prayer with Jesus before my 8AM class. Nothing was more rewarding. I was becoming more spiritually-engaged and my heart felt less tied down to created things. I was focusing more on the here and now; rather than looking in every mirror I walked by to make sure that I still looked okay.

I didn’t care what people thought. I knew that I was beautiful. I didn’t need anyone or anything to reaffirm within me what God had already said hundreds and hundreds of times to my soul. I wasn’t listening until now, but I’m sure glad that I did.

And guess what else? My face cleared up like never before. For a majority of those 40 days I was glowing inside and out. I started to receive random compliments like, “Kait, you’re just so beautiful.” And also from people who knew my penance, “You never needed makeup to begin with,” or “If one person can pull off the ‘no makeup thing’ it’s you.” I really found Christ speaking to me in these people.

My heart wasn’t chained down like it used to be. During Lent I went on a retreat and one of the verses that we meditated on was Isaiah 43. In Isaiah God speaks saying, “I have called you by name and you are mine…You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you.”

What else do we really need? How much more affirmation can we receive? The God of the Universe does not need to be corrected when molding His beloved. He further goes on to say in Isaiah 45:11, “Shall the clay say to the potter, ‘what are you doing?…Do you question me about my children, and tell me how to treat the work of my hands?”

Ladies, you heard our loving Father. We are the work of His hands. We are beautiful. We are precious. We are honored. And we are loved. Let no one tell you otherwise, especially not yourself.

I pray that you may always look in the mirror knowing that you are a beautiful daughter of God regardless of how you look. Your so-called ‘imperfections’ do not define your worth. The one who has exalted you and has written your name in Heaven is the One that you should be listening to. Because after all, the enemy comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) But Christ has come to reaffirm new life within us so that we may have it to the full.

If you struggle with self-image even in the slightest and are dependent on makeup to fix what doesn’t need fixing, chances are you need to be reintroduced to your true beauty, too.

Easter morning I put on mascara again, and I highly disliked the feeling because I could feel negative thoughts creeping back into my head that I hadn’t heard in over 40 days saying, “You look better now,” which in this context is a prime example of a thought that does not come from God.

From this experience I realized many things, one of them being that in the future I will continue my daily routine without packing on the makeup.

Getting at the root of my vanity and my sin ultimately freed me from hating myself, which is the exact thing the devil tries to do. He tries to get you to hate your beauty. He hates women and he hates our God-given beauty. I beg you, please don’t give in to his voice.

Remember at the beginning when I said that I would do anything to strive for perfection in clear skin? I realized the trick. I’ve figured out the age-old mystery to acne.

Here it is: I didn’t have to do anything. And truly, neither do you. You are made perfect. Simply be you. Rediscover how beautiful it is to know you. Be joyful in you.

I promise there’s nothing else more beautiful and cherished in God’s eyes.

photo by Madi Myers-Cook

Kaitlyn is a sophomore at Franciscan University in the Fall studying Theology. She has silly dance moves and is a big believer in God and iced caramel coffee. She loves to write, volunteer, and build up the kingdom of God in any way He sees fit.

This post originally appeared on Catholicam Dominae.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Ginny
    June 30, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Beautiful truths here! I grew up with a mother who thought her self worth was directly tied to her appearance. Makeup and plastic surgery were the norm. Watching her, I learned to hate myself because I wasn’t conventionally beautiful and felt that I would never measure up. I believed the lie that my value was directly tied to the way I looked. All I saw looking in the mirror were what I believed were flaws. Thankfully, God has been really been working on me in adulthood, though I still struggle with the ideas that were so firmly ingrained in me from a young age. Having daughters of my own has been the biggest game changer for me. I have worn minimal make up for the past decade, but have recently been phasing it out completely. And this is the reason why: My little girls watch my every move, and they ask me as I rub concealer around my eyes, “Why are you doing that? What’s that for?” I find myself “sneaking” makeup so I wont’ have to answer. I know from my own experience that if I tell them that I am doing it to make myself feel or look pretty, that I am sending them a message that could possibly be translated one day into, “You aren’t pretty enough just as you are.” Even worse, what if they believed as I did, “You aren’t pretty enough, and therefore you aren’t valuable.” I still struggle with my appearance, especially my body after carrying six babies, but I am careful about my attitude and the things that I say. I think of my girls, and my desire that they will always be able to walk in the truth that God made them beautiful, just as they are.

  • Reply
    Nora
    October 10, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Beautiful post 🙂

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