Category Archives: No-Makeup Challenge

30 days without wearing makeup.

Day 30: Don’t Send in the Clowns

Thursday, Oct.10

Aimee EdgeworthAnd then it was the end. The self-imposed (cruel, unusual, terrifying, depressing, blah blah blah) 30 Day No-Makeup Challenge is officially OVER (sound the trumpets, ignite the fireworks, send in the clowns (no, wait, cancel the clowns, no clowns, please, no clowns))!

And lo and behold…I survived. I made it through the final day with the smug grin of knowing that it was my last day of “looking ugly” (my words, spoken to fellow mom during school drop-offs). And so, today (which is actually Friday, which is actually Day 31 if you want to be all technical and stuff) I woke up knowing I would be able to once again indulge in my self-gratifying routine of foundation, powder, blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara!

And, believe it or not, for a moment I hesitated. I felt like (only for a nanosecond mind you) maybe I didn’t really need or want makeup even though the 30 day sentence was up. I was free. And maybe inmates experience the same thing when they get released from jail…they stand there for a moment just wondering if freedom was what they really wanted (cue Taystee from Orange is the New Black).

I guess I was so obsessed with ending this experiment that I didn’t realize I would miss it. I miss having an excuse for not wearing makeup. I miss those extra ten minutes of hiding under the covers until I absolutely, positively had to get out of bed. And let me tell you, the baby was not too happy about my reinstating the morning makeup routine, either. She screamed (literally) the whole time I applied my makeup, and tried like the devil to climb out of her exersaucer (for those of you unfamiliar with this, it is a little seat in the middle of a giant donut of boring but brightly colored baby toys).

I’m not as smooth as I used to be (30 days ago), my eyeshadow was looking a little cray cray (crazy) and I tried to sharpen my brown eyeliner only to realize the nub that it had become was useless, and so I used my backup liner (a black sparkly one that came free in one of those “gift with purchase” kits that I LOVE so much and is part of why I buy my moderately expensive department store makeup). Black is not the best, the sparkles are subtle but look a little blue, and once again, my skill in this area had surprisingly dwindled.

But nonetheless…I did it! I put on that “fresh” face and threw on a decent outfit and marched off to the kids’ school with confidence. I knew for sure that EVERYONE would notice how much better, how much more alive I looked. And?

Well, no one really did. One mom noticed my hair (I dyed it brown a week ago). But that was it! My husband couldn’t stop staring at me (even though he told me endlessly how much I didn’t need makeup) because he said I looked that good (insert blushing face here). But other than that, I guess I did this all for me! Moi! Mi (okay, that’s the extent of my foreign language knowledge for “me” and my spanish may be totally wrong in this context, yo no say)!

I’ve come to the realization (call it painful, call it blatantly obvious, call it stupid, call it whatever you want!) that I really don’t need makeup the way I thought I did (cue the “I told you so”’s). I guess I really do just wear it for my own insecurities and vanity. And I don’t really care anymore if that’s too superficial. I want to feel good about myself, whether or not anyone else thinks I should or shouldn’t. And, while I am certainly happy to wear makeup once again and look “pretty”, I don’t think I’m going to be as crazy obsessive compulsive about wearing it EVERY day.

Words to live by: everything in moderation (except shopping, please don’t say I have to moderate my shopping! I mean, when stuff goes on Clearance at Target, I HAVE to buy it all, right? I mean, that doesn’t count as excess, RIGHT?)

Amen to that (or hallelujah, or shalom, or namaste…okay, that’s all I got folks)!

Thanks for following along on my “journey” of self-discovery, and check up on me soon for my next 30 day challenge…NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where I will join millions (thousands?) of other writers (okay I looked it up, the tally so far is 74,875 novelists)who dedicate the month of November to writing 50,000 words. And after that will be my Guitar Challenge, where I will try to (finally) play the song “Flowers in December” by Mazzy Star.

Day 29: Rain, Christmas Music, and Depression

Wednesday, Oct. 9

Sad Santa

My adventure (if you can call it that) is coming to a close as I approach the 30th day of going makeup free! I want to scream from the rooftops (although not today because it’s raining) that I did it! I did it! And I DO feel proud, but also sad (insert thumbs up, followed by a crying emoji, followed by a confused emoji…you know, the one with the eyebrows squished together and eyes looking up).

Why?

Because I know that my vanity still has the best of me and I will go back to wearing makeup. And the sadness comes from feeling like this experiment didn’t really do anything if, at the end, I go back to my former habits. And I’m sad that I’m not wearing makeup because as much as I’ve tried to fight the urges, I just can’t. I just LOVE wearing makeup (too much).

But I’m also happy.

Why?

Because (hello!) I get to wear makeup again (crowds cheering) after tomorrow! I get to do what I like to do, and that just so happens to be getting all prettied up and going out in public with confidence in my appearance. Is that so wrong (a question 

I’ve had my highs and lows, and maybe it has something to do with the weather (remember, I already told you it’s raining) that’s making me feel down. Maybe it’s the cycle of complexion issues I’ve been going through (and seem to always be going through). Maybe it’s the approaching holidays that already have me feeling stressed (how can Target play Christmas music BEFORE it’s even Halloween? Seriously?!?).I’ve been trying to answer this whole time)?

But I am SO looking forward to doing what I do best…lookin’ good (okay, that sounded SO cocky, which is SO not me, but may be my alter ego. maybe.). But really, I just want to use the tools that are available to me to look my best. And feel my best. And I shouldn’t feel guilty about it or feel like I have to weigh in on one side or the other of the great makeup battle (as if I have to choose sides: makeup or no makeup?).

I think the biggest thing I can share about this is that it’s NOT NECESSARY for anyone to wear makeup. That really, no one cares but you (me). The important thing is to be comfortable and confident in your decisions to express yourself. And THAT, my friends, is what I’m taking away from this (horrible) experiment.

I get (but don’t fully understand) that other people don’t see all my “flaws” the way I do (with 20/20 vision and impeccable scrutiny). And I am more appreciative of my “natural” beauty (even if I cringe while typing that because I don’t know if I will ever fully believe). But (que the rain) when it rains and the clouds are a-brewin’, and Christmas music is a-playin’, there’s nothing quite like a hot cup of coffee and hiding out inside with sweatpants and fuzzy slippers and not a lick of makeup needed to enjoy that.

So, at long last (almost, there’s still one day left!) I realize there is an appropriate time and place for everything, and makeup is no exception. At the end of the day (well, technically it would be the beginning of the day because that’s when I would apply my makeup, but so goes the expression) I can and shall wear makeup when and if I see fit. Be it every day, only on special occasions, never again, or any time I’m out of the house (including the gym, don’t judge (and yea, like I have time for the gym anymore anyways, hahaha) (and yea, those were two sets of parentheses inside one set of parentheses, so what?)).

If the cure for (my) depression is wearing makeup, then I say (in an authoritative and Santa-like voice) SO BE IT! I say DO IT! I say IT’S BETTER THAN DRUGS (not to knock the people who choose to use medication for their depression)!

Maybe that would have been a better blog title: Makeup: Hey, at least it’s not drugs! Because we all have our addictions, and I can think of a million other things (okay, not really a million, but you know me, I have to be dramatic) that are WAY worse than being a serial makeup wearer. So there (sticking out tongue)!

Day 27: Perfectionism, Dull Knives, Video Games

Monday, Oct. 7

Three days from my goal and how am I feeling about not wearing makeup?

Tired. Simply tired.

What does that mean (besides 3 kids 1 husband 2 soccer teams 1 gymnast, blah blah blah)? Well, to start off it means that I haven’t written on my blog in six days (that’s almost a week!) because I’ve been SO busy! It means I’ve started working from home (and no, not the kind of work I had previously been doing—as in revising my two novels, short stories, and poems—and “working” on all that without pay or even the mild satisfaction of finishing anything or getting anything published, although (yes, another set of parantheses because this is a total tangent) I have submitted a poetry collection to a contest and working on my writing even without pay is totally rewarding in itself!). So, yea, I’ve been working from home for an actual real-world job and while it is sucking the time out of my day, it is helping me feed my three kids and husband and might even help me buy that makeup I’ve run out of at the end of this thing (which, did I mention is in 3 beautiful days?).

But, yes, I am tired. Oh. So. Tired. But how do I really feel (I mean, really really for reallllll feel)?

I am proud that I’ve come this far. That I even had the courage to start out, because let’s face it, the first week was rough. I mean, cry in my closet, hide in my car sort of rough. And now, well, I don’t really care AS much about being bare-faced. I feel, in some ways, that I’m making a stand by going a la naturale. My complexion cleared up, but then flared, and it’s not lookin’ all that great today (or yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that). So maybe that’s why I also haven’t written on my blog. Maybe I was afraid of whining and crying about how insecure I STILL feel about myself, even though I SHOULD feel more accepting.

The truth?

I DO feel more accepting, but I STILL would prefer to wear makeup, but if my complexion WERE clear I would definitely NOT wear makeup (well, just for special occasions). But (more truth) my complexion is NOT clear, and when I can wear makeup again, I think it will make me feel better. And yes, in a superficial way. But a superficial way that also makes me feel better inside, which then isn’t superficial, is it?

And doesn’t it take just as strong of a person to admit that, than it does to refrain from conforming to society’s ideal of what is beautiful? Or (at the very least) doesn’t it make it okay that it’s my own personal choice to wear makeup?

I don’t know. I feel like I’m just going through the same old circular argument that’s been driving round my head for the last, well, twenty-seven days. So instead, I will liken this blog post to personal experience from today. A few mommy melt-down moments, if you will (of course you will, you have to, you’ve read this far, might as well humor me/yourself and read on).

While cooking dinner, trying to gather my thoughts for writing, I came up with three things that struck me.

1) Perfectionism. I really really really like things to be perfect. I mean, really. Like, it drives me crazy when things are askew. The spoons should all rest in the same direction, should have the same shiny-ness (no water spots or crusted food). The chairs should be pushed in to the same depth at the dining table. The shoes should be by the door, parallel to each other, ready to be stepped into. I’m not OCD (well, not diagnosed at least…). I just like things to be all in their right places, and look aesthetically pleasing. And I think this is why I feel such pressure to look “put together” myself. In the same way a dirty house drives me crazy, a disheveled appearance is equally displeasing. As in, makes my skin crawl and shoulders tense (that’s normal, right?).

2) Dull knives. I don’t know what this means, but my knives are always super dull. Does it mean I have poor quality knives? Does it mean I should sharpen them with that long poky sword thing that came in the butcher block set (don’t look at me like that! I can sense your judgement!)? Is it actually safer that my knives are dull (because whenever I’ve gotten new knives I’ve immediately sliced a finger or hand, and boy do those cuts bleed, holy moly)? What does it mean…dull knives?

3) Video games. I really hate video games sometimes. They suck time away from loved ones. They force me to yell. They make me resentful of doing dishes and cooking dinner (and all I can think is, boy, I wish I had that much time to do something I want to do that benefits no one but me, put hands on hips and stomp one foot, then stick out tongue). Oh, I’m so snarky (insert frowny face here), this is not my best quality. In fact, it’s when I’m grumpy that people REALLY don’t like me. I mean, they don’t cut much slack at the not-so-nice Aimee. I mean, if I’m not nice, people don’t like me, and if you read my previous entry about fear, then you would know that’s my greatest fear—not being liked. And that is my rant on video games that are senseless and graphic and expensive and steal your loved ones (this scene has been dramatized for your entertainment).

So, three more days of no makeup. Not that I’m counting. And then, do you think I’m a bad person if I go right back to wearing makeup? Because I guess I really shouldn’t care. I should just do whatever I want. Whatever makes me happy. Maybe that’s the real lesson in this self-inflicted social experiment. But how do you care less when you are obsessed with caring? (Sorry, sh*t just got weird up in here (my brain, the blog, the punctuation, etc)).

Day 21: Fearfully Afraid

Tuesday, Oct. 1

The root of everything is fear. If I am (and you and you and you are) really honest with ourselves, then we can cut out all the crap about the media, etc ruining our lives with their unnatural images of beauty. The truth is that we are all just afraid.

Of what?

Lots of things. Now, I can’t speak for all of you, but for me, the biggest fear is that of not being liked. Why should I care if people like me? I don’t know. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t, maybe I should—but just not as much as I do? But isn’t there something inherent in most of us that makes us want to be liked?

And so, in our efforts to be liked, we do things we might not otherwise do. Wear makeup to appear more attractive (because that’s what we’ve been told is attractive), dress a certain way to express ourselves (that we are modest and respectable, that we are sexy, that we are professional, that we are athletic, or even that we don’t care what message our clothes send), we talk a certain way (please, thank you, blah blah blah), we eat stuff we might not like (to be healthy, to not offend the chef, to fit in)…we do lots of things for other people. So they like us. So we fit in. To quench that thirst for approval.

I want people to like me. I want people to think I’m nice. That I’m smart. That I’m a hard-worker. That I have morals. That I am strong. That I am dependable. That I am funny. That I am pretty. Am I the only one?

No.

I’ve noticed that so many people who come across as cold and distant (and I interpret that as snobby) are really just shy and afraid to speak up to someone. They might fear being rejected. Or made fun of. Or misunderstood.

There are women who wear mounds of makeup (so much so that it sometimes has the opposite effect of what makeup should be doing for someone) and I think, Oh gosh, that person is materialistic and stuck-up…but the truth is that they are usually just insanely self-conscious (like me)! And rather than let on that that’s the case, they transform themselves into an alter-ego, someone who is SO put together they look uncomfortable in their own skin (or skin-tight outfit). But deep down, they are just afraid that no one will like them without all the glitz and glam, or ill-fitting (as in TOO tight) clothes.

I looked at myself in the mirror this morning (something I’m forced to do because of my own vanity and also as part of this journey to ACCEPT how I look, and to do that I HAVE to look at myself, no matter how frightful I imagine it will be). And it occurred to me that I really am starting to like what I see (yes, I know, you all told me so! you win!) and getting used to what I look like without makeup (as in, I didn’t want to vomit in my own mouth at the sight).

I’m learning (day by day) that it’s okay to not wear makeup. That I have totally been too hard on myself, and that the people who tell me I look pretty without makeup are NOT lying to me (this is HUGE, people, not to offend you with my mistrust, but seriously…it feels like people are full of crap sometimes and just saying what they think I want to hear).

I want to see what they see. I want to stop picking apart all the “flaws” and learn to love every freckle, scar, mole there is. And lo and behold, I am getting there (insert surprised emoji here)! Even though I’m still making excuses for my haggard appearance, the more I do so, the more I realize how unnecessary it is. And so, a toast to myself for sticking with it…not giving up…not giving in…and not hiding from the ugly truth: that I, like so many others, have been living in fear and I will no longer let that fear control my self-image.

Cheers! To the final countdown of this journey…nine days to go! And I’m feeling more and more each day that I really don’t NEED makeup to make me happy.

Day 20: Thank You, HD TV

Monday, Sept. 30

An ode to HD TV…

Thank you HD TV for giving us a clearer view of what people really look like. And by real people, I mean actors. People (who are real) who are made up to look perfect. Flawless. Layers of makeup applied. Airbrushed. But even with all that camouflage, HD TV shows us things we never saw before. Things we (real people, normal people) weren’t privy to before.

Веснушки

Actors have freckles! Yes! Freckles! There is no magic remedy to make them disappear (no matter how many times you rub that lemon on your nose, Jan (from The Brady Bunch, come on…no one else remembers that episode???)). And you shouldn’t have to! They are beautiful (well, unless they become cancerous, do freckles become cancerous? I’m not sure, I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV).

Actors have roots! Yes, they color their hair. And then their natural color grows in. Sometimes it’s even…grey! And guess what else? They have wrinkles. Like, real wrinkles.

And the more clearly we see these people (yes, actors are real people!), the more we can see that they are real. Normal. Flawed, even. But the term “flawed” makes me cringe, because even though we are all “flawed”, we shouldn’t think of it that way. The point (one of many) that I’m trying to work through (through this cruel and self-inflicted challenge of not wearing makeup for 30 days) is that it’s not a flaw to be who we are. It’s not a sin to be imperfect. That, really, truly, there is no such thing as flawless and perfect.

There is makeup. There is Photoshop. But that’s because it’s normal (and expected) to have blemishes, marks, unevenness, etc. And instead of hiding it all (like I’ve been doing for…yikes! fifteen or sixteen years!) we should all take a lesson from HD TV and embrace those marvelous little details that make us individuals. That make us all different from one another, and also make us so much alike!

So, hooray for HD TV! Thank you thank you thank you! Woo hoo! And Hallelujah! (And thank GOD I’m not the one being zoomed in on and illuminated on a 55” flatscreen)

There’s hope for us (me) yet…as in, maybe one of these days we (I) will accept that we all look beautiful (ugly) in our own ways. And the devil truly is in the details (wherever did that cliché come from originally? I know, I know, google it Aimee!), because it’s those damn details that drive me nuts and it’s also those details that I am obsessed with and in love with because, well, I don’t know why. I just am. And that is NOT a flaw. It is merely another freckle on my personality.

Day 18: What is Beauty?

Saturday, Sept. 28

What does beauty mean to me? What does it mean to be beautiful? And why am I able to accept other people and yet I’m so hard on myself?

I used to think that beauty came from within. I grew up being told so (thank you, Mom). And even that I was beautiful in the superficial sense (thank you again, Mom, fam, friends). But when did I stop believing it? Or, better yet, did I ever REALLY buy into the whole concept of inner beauty?

Yes. And no. I mean, yes I believe in inner beauty, but no, I never really accepted it whole-heartedly. I want to blame someone for this disbelief. Magazines. TV. Popular kids. Fashion. Photoshop. I don’t know who to blame. Everyone?

But what if it’s not that simple? What if the biggest problem with self-acceptance and beauty is…me??? (Well, that’s a great way to squash that inner-confidence even more, like…all the way to nil) So, it’s all my fault. But even with that admission, how can I come to trust my inner beauty and believe that it permeates to the outer part of my body? Is it too late?

Will I be a little old lady, with grey hair (okay, I probably will never have grey hair so long as they keep those shelves at Super-T stocked with boxes of color), who’s still trying to diet, who gets all “made up” to go nowhere, and can’t hold back when shopping the sales racks (even if there’s nowhere to wear those fancy clothes)?

Is it normal to look at other people and notice every detail, and have a conversation in your head about what decision-making process went into everything a person wears, does, says, doesn’t do, doesn’t say? (See: Over-analytical. See: Curse. See: Eternal Curse.) Doesn’t that mean everyone is looking at me like that? Having their own internal monologue about me? Am I supposed to NOT think like that?

I imagine it’s this intense way of thinking that makes me want to write (and some might even say it makes me GOOD at writing, not that I would ever toot my own horn, insert winky face here). I like to imagine other people’s thoughts, fears, and motives. Figure out what makes each person unique, whether real or imaginary. I love writing about characters who are troubled, because even if they are aware of what’s troubling them, they have a tough time fixing themselves. And that’s interesting to me. And maybe they can never really be fixed. But maybe they realize that they weren’t all that troubled after all.

What???

Yea.

Maybe it’s okay to have been wrong. To look back (before it’s too late) and realize that maybe you were too hard on yourself. You might wonder, since when did I get so insecure? And why is it so hard for some people (like me) to winningly accept compliments? What is the “root”, as a psychologist might put it? Do you need to know the origin of your own dysfunction? Or can you move forward on the mere acknowledgement of said dysfunction alone?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s never too late to change and become the person who you want to be, who you imagine you are, even if and when there are bumps in the road (so cliché, I know).

Not sayin’ I’m healed or anything. Not saying I haven’t come up with a dozen excuses of why I should just put it on anyways (makeup, duh), despite my sadomasochistic vow (to abstain from makeup for an entire month). Let me be real: I am literally (see: the new definition of “literally”, of which I despise, even though I’m using it that way right now) dying inside sometimes, from not wearing makeup (and don’t call me dramatic, I hate it when people state the obvious). But, I also am getting used to staying in bed those precious extra 10-15 minutes that I had previously spent applying makeup (I can actually do it in under 5 if needed, yea, I’m that good).

And, on a deeper level, I suppose that maybe, possibly, reluctantly, begrudgingly…I am beginning to accept myself for who I am (including how I look), without the muss, the fuss, the mirrors. Once you step away from the superficial, you begin to question why it all mattered so much to begin with. And it gets easier (not EASY! but less painful at least) to not care.

Because, honestly, who has THAT much free time to spend worrying about how you look, and least of all, what other people think about how you look? Freeing myself from that way of thinking has been like liberating my brain to be useful in so many other ways! Like doing this.

I’ve always believed that people WILL make time for what’s important to them (whether they admit it or not, or continue to makes excuses for why they don’t have the time for this or that), and so my progress can be seen in spending LESS time doing my makeup and getting dressed, and MORE time writing.

And that, my friends, is truly beautiful.

Day 15: Celebrities Do It Too!

Wednesday, Sept. 25

Officially halfway to my goal (ahhhh, sigh of relief). I have struggled (nearly) every day to resist the urge to give in and put makeup on. This morning included. And if it hadn’t been for my public declaration (no matter how small of a “public” that is) of abstaining from makeup for 30 days (30 days?!?!) I would have surely quit by now.

So, in celebration of hitting my halfway mark (I already downed TWO cups of coffee today to start it out!) I am posting some pics of celebrities caught (purposely or not) without makeup, and why I think they are beautiful!

In my search for “natural” beauties, I came across this headline “Nearly Unrecognizable! 20 Shocking Photos Of Stars Without Makeup”. I couldn’t help but notice how this site uses stars without makeup to propagate the idea that women look HORRIBLE without it! This is done by taking candid shots (people who clearly do not want their picture taken) at unflattering angles, with poor lighting, and awkward environments. Shame on you! Let’s make no-makeup look beautiful, while still keeping it real.

So I found another site that featured Jessica Alba, one of my fave celebs for her style, charm, and most recently for providing my baby with super-cute and toxic-free diapers from her business The Honest Company (okay, she’s not “providing” them to me personally per say, but I discovered them and signed up so I’m billed monthly and they ship right to my front door!). But look at her! That caramel complexion, the big doe eyes, the plump lips, and dark hair…I love her!

There could be positive feedback on these stars and their “looks” (and sometimes there IS flattering commentary), but when encountering the article, the reader is immediately told that only SOME of these stars look beautiful. The headline, “Most of these celebs are just as beautiful without the red carpet spackle,” makes me cringe. All I notice is the “Most” part of that headline, which means many but not all. But wait, there’s more! We are told, “Brace yourself for the horror of lucky number 13”. That’s so mean!

So, who’s number 13? Madonna. Love her or hate her or don’t care. But it’s so NOT cool to say “Madonna is looking a little worn out and her age is starting show, with lack of make up.” (Oh yes, they did!) Well, duh! God forbid ANY of us begin to look our age (even though many have speculated that she DOES indeed hold some anti-aging secret, just not the website in question)! She should get props for how well she’s “aged”.

Taylor Swift opted to actually POSE for People Magazine, sans makeup, and I personally think that’s FABULOUS! And, she looks AMAZING! At least this site offers positive feedback for it’s country stars they feature without makeup. Look at her—striking a confident pose, wild hair, crystal eyes, and dewy complexion. Sure, she has a professional photographer, which helps. But she doesn’t need eyeshadow and mascara and blush, why should I feel that I need it?

I found a great pic of Jessica Biel, and a slideshow of other pretty celebs. Not much commentary, and an annoying popup ad, that admittedly prevented me from going through each slide (come on Disneyland, we already have passes, I don’t need your ad to pop up EVERY time I click on another slide, puhleeeease, you already raised prices, annoying popups are NOT going to help).

Celebrities-Without-Makeup-Including-Demi-Lovato-Lady-GagaI found a cute pic of Jennifer Love Hewitt, and on the site it brags of other celebs taking the “no-makeup plunge”, which commenters couldn’t help but pick apart—claiming some were wearing eyeliner or lip tint. But look at her…she’s just like us (as in, “normal” people). She has dark eyes, pale skin, and good ol’ regular colored lips. And those things are stunning on her! Why not on me?

I found a link to another article on the same site, Magdalena, Laura & Jesinta Go Makeup-Free For a Good CauseWhile I don’t know who any of these lovely ladies are (I know, I know, just google it) I totally love what they are doing and appreciate their candor when Laura Cstoran (okay I did it, I googled her—Miss Australia 2007) admits that “For two nights now I’ve been tossing and turning about these pictures”. 

So there it is! My tribute to beautiful, fresh-faced celebs, who inspire me to keep going forward in my quest for self-acceptance. To realize that I do look “normal”. That it’s okay to not wear makeup. That nobody is perfect. And that society (media) puts WAY too much pressure on women to look a certain way (flawless), and that society (us) are also pretty mean and cruel to the women who don’t meet those standards (that we both accept and reject simultaneously).

Such a complicated world full of mixed messages. And beauty is no exception.

(See: Morton’s fork. See: False dilemma. See: Catch-22.) You are NOT beautiful if you have to rely on makeup to make you look pretty. AND…you are NOT beautiful if you DON’T wear makeup. Kind of like the stay-at-home mom vs the working-mom dilemma. Society judges you either way (you are being selfish for choosing a career over your kids, or you are settling by choosing kids over a career). Gosh (see, I’m trying to stop using so many swear words, I AM a mother, afterall…insert blushing emoji here), it can be tough to be a woman.

Come on guys, gals, whoever, let’s meet in the middle somewhere…there is so much more to beauty than what meets the eye (right? doesn’t anyone look inward anymore?).

Day 13: Dress to Impress

Monday, Sept. 23

Change of strategy for surviving a month of no makeup (well, 17 more days at least, but who’s counting?). Today, I dressed cute. No, not as in wearing my “cute” yoga pants and my “cute” moisture-wicking fluorescent tank (you know, the ones I bought to wear to the gym while I was still optimistic about finding time to go to said gym). I wore (que trumpet sounds)…denim shorts (no, not the cut-off daisy duke style, but a flattering dark denim short with braided belt) and a pretty red-striped tank with lace detail on the back (one of my faves).

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for me it was. So far I have been dressing…well, comfortable (as in sloppy, ugly, unkempt, messy, okay you got it). Part of it has been due to a mild depressing feeling from not wearing makeup. This feeling of not being myself. Liberating (as in no muss, no fuss) but strangely sad (as in I don’t feel the joy that makeup and clothes give me).

But there are more moments when I do see myself (sans makeup) and actually am getting (a little) used to seeing what I look like. Okay, maybe that seems weird. But here’s the truth—I used to wear makeup every single day. Every. Single. Day. Whether or not I planned to leave the house. And when you wear makeup you stare in the mirror, and you see every little part of your face. But…when I don’t wear makeup, I don’t look in the mirror as much and therefore don’t scrutinize my complexion or overall looks as often (a happy side effect).

Maybe this is a good thing? (Question mark intentional) Because I’m not sure yet. It’s not that I had such a terrible self-image before, but I knew it could use some improvement. And it’s not that I felt over-burdened with the task of applying makeup each and every day, but I was very uncomfortable without it.

To wear makeup or to not wear makeup? There are no right or wrongs on this matter. That is a question that each person has to figure out themselves. For me, it is important to look presentable. And this is something that I’ve felt compelled to do since childhood (wearing socks to match the outfit, the scrunchie to match the socks, the earrings that coordinate with the whole “theme” of the ensemble).

I miss the days of childhood where it was so easy to look cute. No makeup. Hair up in a scrunchie. Cuffed socks. Stretch pants. Oversized, tie-dyed T-shirt with a ring/clip accessory. Gigantic peace-sign earrings. And I was set.

Now I have to thrash around my closet, searching for the ONE pair of jeans that FITS just right, then the shirt that is dressier than a T-shirt but not quite a blouse, then the shirt that goes UNDER that shirt for midriff and see-through coverage, then there’s the right bra, the shoes (boots? sandals? flats? tennies? (Yes, I still call them “tennies”, insert smiley face with tongue sticking out here)).

Oh yes, then there’s the makeup. To match or not to match your eyeshadow?

At least that is the question I don’t have to answer for a while. And who knows, maybe I won’t care anymore at all (okay I will). But maybe I’ll care less? Until then, there are the clothes. God save the clothes!

Day 12: Not as Bad as Walt. And I Will Eat that Whale!

Sunday, Sept. 22

Okay, I’ve come up from my self-loathing, disappointed, frustrated, tired low from the last few days. That’s what the weekend is for, right? Try to catch your breath and prepare for another looonnnngggg week of whatever it is you do. But, is it a time for resting? No way.

For me, it’s a time of catching up on laundry, grocery shopping, cooking big healthy dinners (followed by gluttonous desserts), and preparing to once again whine and complain all week about how there is simply not enough time in the day to do all I want to do. Relaxation? Well, that comes once the kids are in bed and I can turn off my brain and watch one of the final episodes of Breaking Bad (tonight, yes! and also, nooooo!!!! I don’t want it to end!).

When I watch Breaking Bad, I realize we all want to be successful, and we all ache for more time doing stuff we love versus stuff we feel obligated to do (even if we love some of those obligations as well). I realize that, even in my darkest hours, I am not as f@#$ed as Walt and Skyler. I’m not as dumb as Jesse. Not as frustrated as Hank. Not dead like every other character. And I’m not facing hard time because I wrote a bad article, or didn’t throw that load of laundry into the dryer (you know, the one from three days ago that now smells like seaweed or rotten cabbage).

So, yes, I missed a few days of writing on my blog. I haven’t been working on my novel(s) let alone even reading any good books. I need to edit, revise, submit like crazy to get published (somewhere, someday) and that can’t happen until I FINISH something and that can’t happen until I work on something religiously and tirelessly (okay, religiously is a weird expression but it kind of works because writing is as important to me as breathing, eating, sleeping, living and is always in the back of my mind if I’m not actively doing it, so does that make sense?) every day.

And I’m constantly disappointed in myself for not doing more more more. And I miss makeup terribly. So I should also be disappointed in myself for that too (because that MUST make me superficial and some kind of a bad person, right?). And then I can’t help but start wondering why I even did this to begin with. Any of it (writing, not wearing makeup, setting myself up for failure). But I am sticking to my guns (whatever that is supposed to mean, I guess I could just google it), and abstaining from makeup. And trying to abstain from negative thinking too (hahaha, I know, good luck with that, right? Wait, damnit, that was negative wasn’t it?).

How is that working out? Well, okay. I mean, I am still disappointed that I’m not doing more, but I should be content with what I am able to do (which some people would call miraculous, given that I have three kids and no “help” other than my devoted hubby who works his a$$ off to provide for us). The best advice ever, given to me by practically everyone who I complain to, is to just take it one day at a time.

And how do I answer that? Well, look at Walt. That’s what he did, and now he’s up sh@# creek (yes, there’s a lot of cursing going on in this post, but man does it feel good sometimes to just let it all out, cursing is like yoga in that way—a release of negative energy and tension). You have to look ahead at the future, at how what you do today will affect tomorrow and the day after and so on and on and on. So live one day at a time, but don’t forget that your choices today will affect all of your tomorrows…(how’s that for mixed messages???)

I know, don’t be so hard on myself. But that’s just who I am, and that’s what I believe makes me more successful, because I am my own worst critic and I know what I am capable of and hate settling for less. I guess that’s kind of why the makeup thing is hard too. I mean, I know what I’m capable of looking like and I don’t want to “settle” for looking hum drum, boring, or unkempt. Because I am none of those things!

In the meantime, while I work on my so-called “self-image”, at least I am writing. I mean, I know I could write more, but there are laws against ignoring and starving your children, even if it is for the sake of your craft. And also, I love these boogers (children, who do happen to have lots of boogers) to pieces. When I do stop and play with them and feed them and bathe them, I remember that it’s those moments that are actually fulfilling and those moments that help define who I am as a person and reminds me that, someday (in 11, 12, and 18 years, not that I’m counting, insert winky face) I will have an empty house and too much time on my hands and I will miss being so busy.

So for now, I’m trying (really really really hard) to enjoy each moment and not get too caught up in productivity from day to day, because as long as I keep working at it (little by little, think of that Shel Silverstein poem about the girl eating the whale!) it will all accumulate into something I can be proud of. Whether it’s creating and nurturing three amazing, gifted people (yes, it is quite incredible to think that I actually MADE people!) or that someday (in 11, 12, and 18 years, but who’s counting???) I will have a huge body of writing work (whether published or not, it’s my lifelong dream simply to write! and having people read my work, that’s just a perk).

Day 11: Hot, Hot Mess

Saturday, Sept 21

The only way to describe the last few days is that I am a hot, hot mess. I mean, seriously. I haven’t even had a chance to sit and work on anything I want to do (insert crying emoji here). It’s always about them. You know. The kids. And, as much as I love them and want to devote every waking moment to them, I really really really (I mean really) need some time for myself.

And so I miss my makeup. I miss my itty bitty mommy time in the morning. I miss the feeling that, even if I don’t have any other moments for myself during the whole day, at least I had that and at least I felt like I looked good (no matter how tired I really am/was/will be). Waahhhhh (yes, insert another crying emoji—actually let’s make that a double).

Sure, I realize that NOBODY else gives a hoot what I look like. Makeup. No makeup. Yoga pants. Fancy yoga pants (yes, there is such a thing! and it does count as “dressing up” when you’re a mom). But I still do! And I’m starting to wonder if that’s really such a bad thing. Can’t I care about what I look like, even if nobody else does?

NOBODY cares about my makeup, or my lack of. But I (okay, you really lose the emphasis of all caps when the word you want to emphasize is a single letter word like “I”, insert frowny face here) really, really do. And I really feel like wearing makeup gives me a little boost of confidence that seems to make the day a bit less dreary. So sue me! Judge me! Hate me! Love me! I don’t give a flying rat’s petootie! Okay?!?

Whoa, sorry. That was harsh. That was the inner me, you know, the one that gets pushed to the back burner while the outer me runs around to double soccer pictures, double soccer games, and the only five minutes of time to sit down is when I nurse the little monster. Yes, she’s cute. I love her (obviously), but man, she is a monster sometimes. Ripping out my hair, screaming if I (God forbid) put her down for two seconds. I mean, she’s HUGE, so I can’t hold her ALL the time.

And she’s not only crawling, but now is angry-baby unless she’s standing up (wabbly) holding onto something (the coffee table, my legs, a chair) and needs CONSTANT supervision, especially in a not-so-clean house, and even when I do finally clean up and feel like it should be okay for her to cruise around in. There is no such thing as a clean house when you have kids. No. Such. Thing.

And so, woe is me once again. Having a hard time dealing with this whole thing. Instead of enjoying it, feeling liberated by it. I am feeling like a frumpy, sweaty, tired, horrid, hot mess. Without makeup, I feel there is no reason to even dress cute. Like my attire should match the rest of this “look”, if you can call it that. I mean, I like that I don’t feel so greasy at the end of the day when all the makeup has sort of melted off, but I miss it. Call me lame. Call me pathetic. Call me over-dramatic (because you know I’ve never heard that one before, wink wink). But pppllllleeeeeaaaaasssseeeee hurry up and make this stupid 30 days end so I can once again look the way I am supposed to look.  Like me!

Sure, I am trying to accept how I really look (without makeup), but I’m kind of getting over that. I mean, I feel like the way I really look is the me with makeup on. That is the me I miss. That is who I think of as being the “real” me. So, here’s to 19 (painstaking, awful, horrible, unending, not-liberating, not-fun, not-pleasant, not-educational, miserable, tiring, and so on and so on and so on) more days of this experience.

And here’s to hoping that by the end of this thing I can afford to re-up on my supply! I kind of think the lady at the makeup counter misses me as much as I miss her…