This is less a Science Sunday and more a Self Care Sunday post, but I had an experience this week that made me want to talk about this concept. Bear with me if this is a little bit of a rambling post.
When I was in high school, I was one of those girls who always wore makeup. I would get up early and put on at least my foundation, mascara and lipstick, if not a full blown eyeshadow and eyeliner look. If I slept late I would be in the school bathroom with my makeup bag, rushing to get ready before first period. If I didn’t wear makeup for some reason, I felt like crap. I thought I needed makeup to be pretty. Even on weekends, I would apply a full face if I had to leave the house for even a few minutes.
And then college happened. Too many late nights, 8 am classes, no desire to get up earlier than 15 minutes before class started, all of this contributed to me starting to leave the house without makeup. Weeks would go by and I wouldn’t touch my makeup. This sounds like a win! But looking back, I realize that it wasn’t.
The truth was I was depressed and the big shift to college had made me stop caring about things that used to make me happy, like makeup. I would still wear it, but not as often and it didn’t bring me as much joy. Thankfully I got help after my first year of college and started to work through my depression.
The next three years were a journey of self discovery. I met new people, learned what I wanted in life, found new passions, and educated myself on things like self care. I learned about the pressures women felt to wear makeup and how important it was to examine why I wore makeup. Was I wearing it because I wanted to? Or because I felt it was what society expected of me? I thought that after everything I learned about myself and gender that I was in a good place with my self image. I thought that yes, I wore makeup, but it was because it was a creative outlet for myself. I thought that I loved myself enough that I could leave the house without makeup and still feel good about myself.
I was wrong.
This week I had a late start and I left for work just wearing some mascara and a little blush and lip balm. I had clearly visible hyperpigmentation from old breakouts. I had a couple of red spots where pimples were brewing. When I was in the bathroom I looked myself in the mirror and said, “Oh. You actually look pretty good with so little makeup.” This took me by surprise. I thought I already felt that way. Why was the fact that I look good without makeup such a surprising thought?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I hadn’t been practicing radical self love all these years. I was practicing mediocre self tolerance. That’s a pretty big difference. All these years I was essentially telling myself that yeah, I was ok enough to go out without makeup, but I sure wasn’t anything special to look at. I pretty much felt like a foot when I left the house, but I was ok with being a foot. And that’s self love, right? Except it wasn’t.
I’m realizing now that self love is not just accepting how you think society views you. Yeah, maybe people don’t think I’m the next beauty queen when I walk down the street bare faced. But I should think I’m still a queen when I don’t wear makeup! Self love is about telling yourself that you’re more than just adequate. I am beautiful, no matter how much makeup I wear. I’m cute as heck, all day every day. I’m not saying you can’t have days where you don’t feel awesome about your appearance, but you should try to tell yourself how beautiful you are once in a while.
I invite you to ask yourselves: do I practice self love or self tolerance? What can I do to make the shift to self love? How can I encourage others to practice self love?
Thanks for reading! You’re all absolutely beautiful, inside and out, and I love each and every one of you!