My thoughts as I near the halfway point of the Project.
I can’t believe I’m already writing my fourth post for The Naked Face Project. Honestly, I thought the 60 days would crawl by, but time sure is flying. At the end of February, Molly Barker and I will be halfway through our own personal experiment to experience life without makeup, shaving, or primping.
This morning, I was thinking that it would’ve been interesting for me to do this Project without telling anyone about the Project itself so I could record the ‘true’ reactions of my husband, parents, and friends. But honestly, I’m not sure that I’d be getting as much out of the Project without having the ability to discuss my thoughts with these people… as well as with you via the blog! I benefited so much by publicly discussing how my family and my hometown influenced my thoughts about feminine beauty, the concept of a Self-Esteem Evolution, and the feminist label. I don’t think my thoughts about the Project would be 50% as well-rounded or deep without hearing from other people. So thank you for your feedback!
Since this is essentially the halfway mark, I thought I should record my reactions to the Project thus far and answer some of the most common questions that I’ve received.
I like… I like not ‘having’ to wear makeup every day. I anticipate this will be my greatest practical takeaway from the Project. I’ve written before about how I was raised by a Southern momma who would never leave the house without her ‘face’ on, and I followed this example every day since I was 15 or so. But you know what? No one actually has to wear makeup every day. I can’t even tell you how many more appointments I have been on-time for in the last three weeks (I struggle with promptness) because I could skip the makeup routine.
I miss… I miss not having smooth legs and armpits. I wrote at the beginning of the Project that I do not enjoy the act of shaving, and this is still true. It’s a chore, and it’s sometimes painful. But I miss the smoothness of my old legs. I guess I’ve been culturally conditioned to like it. Although having hair is kind of cool, too. I like the pet my legs now – seriously! But I will definitely go back to shaving.
I look forward to… Despite my new appreciation for makeup freedom, I do look forward to being able to wear some makeup again. I didn’t like that I felt obligated to wear makeup, but there have been a few days that I felt exhausted or under-the-weather and a little bit of primping would’ve felt nice. I also miss painting my nails because I used to get manicures as a ‘reward’ for completing work projects or other tasks, and I find a trip to the salon to be very relaxing.
I have saved… I have saved nearly 300 minutes and at least $60 in 24 days by not wearing makeup, shaving, or primping. Booyah.
I still… I still feel sexy. This Project has really helped me understand that true sexiness is not about makeup or high heels or even shaving. Sexiness and confidence really comes from within. And I’m saying that as a 24-week pregnant lady!
I have realized… A few people have asked me if I feel ‘embarrassed’ at the pool for having hairy legs and armpits, and I have realized that I really don’t care if others are judging me. Although I haven’t kept the Project a secret from my friends and the blog world, my plan has always been to dress as I normally would (I rocked shorts and a sleeveless top yesterday) and not to use the Project as an ‘excuse’ in discussions with strangers. Meaning I won’t say, “Oh, this is just this crazy temporary experiment…” My plan is to just say, “I don’t shave my legs,” and see what happens. I’m not surprised that strangers haven’t said anything to me (because, seriously, how rude would that be?). I’ve caught a few sideways glances as I did overhead presses at the gym – hello, hair! – but again… I just don’t care if I’m being judged. I already believed this, but the Project has helped me more fully understand and assimilate that we are all different, we are all beautiful, and we don’t have to follow cultural beauty norms to be acceptable. Others might try to make you believe that or treat you like you aren’t acceptable if you don’t fit in – whether it’s because of makeup or hair or body type or dress – but they are the ones who are wrong and are buying into the lies imposed by our society’s messed-up views. At the end of the day, the surface really doesn’t matter, even if other people think it does. After all, made-up or not, I’m still the same person at the core.
Also, I have realized… In a similar vein, this Project has helped me realize that, most of the time, our self-consciousness is disproportionate to others’ judgments. Basically, I imagine that people care a lot more than they do. For example, as a teen, I used to get worked up over my crooked front tooth; I asked a friend the other day if she had ever even noticed it, and she said no. Oh, how I wish I could back in time and tell Teenage Caitlin to stop stressing out about something so small.
I can’t control… That being said, I can’t control how other people view me, the biases they impose on me, and the disadvantages I may experience as a result of the Project. A few people have asked me if I feel professionally devalued by others as a result of my reduced ‘beauty routine,’ pointing to this study (funded by Procter & Gamble, which sells CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabbana makeup) that determined that people view women as ‘more competent’ if they are wearing makeup. I am currently reading The Beauty Myth, and one of the topics is how women are forced to walk a thin line in the professional world – we have to look feminine to be valued, but if we look ‘too’ feminine, we are devalued and thought of merely as sexual objects. Basically, the system is designed to screw women over – we’re always going to be not enough or too much, depending on who is doing the judging. I am not in career fields that strongly value appearance; as a writer, I generally hide behind a computer, and no one cares if the secretary at the clinic isn’t wearing eyeliner. I’m currently in the middle of a slew of public speaking events, and my thoughts about being naked faced in front of 300 people may be different if I was talking about a different subject matter. Since I’m discussing negative self-talk and self-esteem, it feels more authentic not to wear makeup to events (I have also done two local news segments sans makeup and didn’t mind in the slightest). That being said, I might feel differently if I was delivering a talk on the latest medical procedure to a room filled with mostly male doctors (which goes back to the issues brought up by The Beauty Myth).
I am beginning to see… The Project is personal for me, as I’m not judging the habits themselves or people who engage in them. I’m just seeking to understand why I do the things I do. But I’m beginning to see that the reasons are pretty complex and are influenced by so many outside sources. My beauty habits are about how I was raised, where I was raised, how other people treat me, my self-esteem, how society views me as an individual, and how society views women as a group. It does my head in, but it’s very interesting to ponder.
I’m limited… I understand that the best and the most limiting thing about the Project is that I can only experience it in one way. I hope you all understand that I’m not assuming to know what it would be like to do this Project if I was older, single, taller, shorter, in a different career field, a different body type, a different race, in another part of the country, etc. I can only write about my own perspective! That’s why I’m glad to have Molly Barker on board with me – she’s 51 years old, the mother of two teenagers, and single. She brings a different perspective to the Project, and for that, I am so grateful. Check out her blog musings here!