The other day I read an article written by Sharon Miller, a woman who stopped wearing makeup “as an act of Christian discipleship.”
She was getting ready to go shopping with her in-laws and as she went through her usual morning routine of blow-drying her hair and picking out an outfit, she decided to go to the mall sans makeup.
She said she had been inspired by a book, “Dance of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Women’s Spirituality,” by Maria Harris.
Harris had suggested the dare — to go outside bare faced. Harris had written: “Possibly the suggestion that we take off our makeup, or go outside without it, creates a feeling close to panic (‘Oh God, no!’). If we react that way, it may be we are shocked by the suggestion that we allow someone else to see us as we actually are.”
Miller said she felt good about her decision until she walked into the first store and felt as if she should explain to the salespeople and other shoppers, “I don’t normally look like this.” She felt self-conscious and naked.
Truthfully, that would never happen to me, only because there’s no way I would ever venture out of my house without at least foundation (Bare Minerals medium beige), a brush of blush (Bare Minerals “Glee”), a stroke of Urban Decay raisin-colored eyeliner and Revlon Colorstay Mineral Lipglaze (“Continuous Pink”).
And that’s not mentioning eye shadow, under-eye cover and inner-eye brightener. Oh, and mascara.
On days when I’m not planning on going anywhere, I still wear makeup. If I’m sick, makeup’s on. I may leave home without my American Express, but not my Bare Minerals.
If I were ever exiled to the desert or had to go to prison or be a missionary in Siberia I’d first go to the nearest Ulta or Sephora store and buy all the Urban Decay raisin-colored eyeliner pencils they had to take with me. (Although, in the case of going to prison, I’d probably have to leave the eyeliner pencils with my husband so he could smuggle them in to me every other month or so.)
When it all boils down, for me it’s all about the eyeliner.
Obviously, I’ve thought a lot about this.
Trust me, I wear makeup for the good of others, or so I’d like to believe. However, if I’m honest with myself, the real truth is that I don’t want anyone to see me as I really am.
It goes back to the Garden of Eden, back to when the first humans sinned and discovered the shame of being seen and known. It’s the fear of being exposed and judged.
In some churches women aren’t allowed to wear makeup. They don’t cut their hair, wear jewelry or wear pants. They take the words of the Apostle Peter literally: “Your adornment must not be merely external … but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
I think the key word is “merely.” If my focus is merely on the stuff I put on my face or the clothes I wear, then I’m off-balance. My inner character must be a priority. However, I don’t think wearing makeup is an either/or situation. I don’t believe God loves those who shun makeup more than those who keep Revlon and Cover Girl in business.
Miller ended her article by saying that wearing makeup can be about hiding or trying to present a false front, but not always. She added that not wearing makeup doesn’t add to a woman’s holiness.
Instead, she said, “The act of taking off makeup is simply one of many ways to search your heart for whatever it is that constitutes the essence of your security.”
It all goes back to the qualities of the inner self.
Miller said when she walked around the mall without makeup she considered that maybe if she spent more time and effort cultivating her inner beauty she wouldn’t be so self-conscious about her outer beauty.
Interesting thought, but I’m not ready to go there, and she’s not advocating that all Christian women do. It’s just something she did for one day.
Truly, I feel better in makeup, more confident and yes, secure. But my ultimate security is in God. I just choose to seek it with my green eyes lined in “raisin” and my cheeks rosy with “Glee.”
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.