“The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing women that they looked better in their makeup.”
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.
Before this year’s Lent (it’s actually Easter today, Alleluia!) I had my daily morning routine. Wake up. Put on my clothes. Do my hair, makeup, and I’m out the door to breakfast. Seems like the average morning, right? Well, to many women, yes. This is what we do every morning before getting ready for the day. But it takes SO long.
Then one day I got out of the shower and started looking at my skin. I had a few new pimples even after I was well into my new Proactiv kit 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? And 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 like my staple makeup product. I LOVE my long eyelashes and it’s a total confidence booster. But what if I did something crazy? What if I gave it up after 4-6 years of wearing it pretty much every day? 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 messed up to look at yourself straight in the eye and completely miss all the hard work and time God took to create you. And sadly, I think that far too many gorgeous women are missing out on noticing their innate God-given beauty. We’re missing out on seeing ourselves in His image and likeness. 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 encountered 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 it’s never been before. For a majority of these past 40 days I was glowing inside and out. I started to receive random compliments that I’ve never gotten 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 of 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.
This morning I put on mascara again, since it’s Easter, and I highly disliked the feeling. I could feel negative thoughts creeping back into my head that I hadn’t heard in over 40 days saying, “You look better now.” Ladies, that’s a prime example of knowing that is not an affirming thought that comes from God. And 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 beauty. Always has and always will. I beg you, please don’t give into the lies.
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. Do not fret, 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.