There I sat, a 25-year-old beauty editor living in the fashion and beauty capital of the world, looking at my profile picture and briefly wondering if I'd really go through with it. There once was a time not too long ago when the idea of posting my bare face to Instagram -- land of unrealistic beauty standards and perfectly Facetuned Insta-models -- was unthinkable. No-makeup selfies were for celebrities with perfect skin only. At least, that's how I felt. But, like I said, that was then, so I proudly pressed 'post' -- and felt no regret. You see, nowadays, I have a genuine belief that beauty isn't so much about unicorn highlighters and a perfect cut crease (though I love those too). When I look in the mirror, what I regard as beautiful is a strong sense of self and an appreciation for my natural features. I hope one day this will be the accepted and appreciated norm for all women.
So, you might be wondering what happened that made me switch from a makeup-every-day kind of girl to a carefree, no-makeup advocate for beauty of all kinds. What if I told you it was diving into the beauty industry to begin with? Shocking, right? To take a page out of my book of growing self-confidence in barefaced beauty, click through for a lesson that might just change the way you look at your face -- and the way others perceive it.
Before I became a beauty editor, I worked in advertising at Men's Health Magazine, a male-dominated publication (shocker, I know). While working as an assistant to get my foot in the door, I pursued freelance writing tirelessly to build as many clips as possible so that I could one day fulfill my dream of working in beauty editorial.
It was while working at the lad mag that I received my first beauty assignment for a national publication -- and it was a doozy. At least at the time I thought it was. The task was to wear zero makeup for two full weeks. Initially, I was incredibly nervous to go makeup-less when I'd been wearing primer, foundation, bronzer, blush, eye shadow and mascara since I was 14, but then I remembered that I wanted to get out of my comfort zone as much as possible to grow as a writer, so I accepted the assignment. During those two long weeks sans makeup, I was asked if I was sick, upset, on my period, if my boyfriend had broken up with me or if someone died. While I said no to all of those things, I refused to give an explanation as to why I looked different than they were used to seeing me because it got me to thinking...
Image via womenshealthmag.com
"How Do Boys Look Good Without Makeup?"
This thought went through my head multiple times during my stint without makeup. As I navigated my days hoping my eyes didn't look too puny without mascara or that my naturally red-tinted skin wasn't flaring up too much (things that I had been conditioned to think were unattractive), I couldn't help but wonder how guys can get away so confidently without wearing a single touch of color-correcting concealer or even a touch of mascara. And then as I sat scrolling through Pinterest doing research for an assignment, my answer came to me in the form of a pretty little floral quote box: "Because society hasn't told boys they look bad without it."
Image via Pinterest
How That One Assignment and Those 10 Words Changed My Life
After I'd hit send on my final write-up for Women's Health, I told my bosses why I had looked like "something was off" for the prior two weeks. And in that moment, and many after where I'd told other men and women, boys and girls, what I had done in the name of journalism, I made a choice that I was going to try my hardest to no longer give society the power to make me feel bad about my personal beauty choices. It just no longer served me.
I didn't like that guys were subject to different standards and I especially didn't like that I was being called brave for going makeup-free. Moving to NYC by myself on a budget when I didn't know anybody, that was brave. Pushing myself to grow past emotional trauma, that was brave. Hell, walking down a hallway in the dark, for me, that's brave. But, going a day without makeup? Nope, not brave. So from that point on, I chose to never feel obligated to wear it again. Not to the grocery store or to work; not out to the bar or to visit my friends from home after being gone for months. Instead of feeling like I needed to wear makeup, I finally learned what it was like to prime and set only when I felt like it. And, as silly as it may seem, that was liberating.
Image courtesy Rebecca Norris
A New Interpretation of Beauty
Like many women my age, and, if we're being honest, many girls in general, I constantly find myself noticing, analyzing and judging my appearance over other more important, often internal characteristics, based on living in a world that's so focused on outer beauty. Despite how many people claim that beauty is on the inside or how many brands promise to stop publishing overly retouched images, in a world full of virtually flawless Instagram models that are just a scroll away from launching you into a social media rabbit hole of comparison, loving and embracing yourself for who you truly are underneath all your favorite makeup can be a challenge. Before you know it, your aimless scrolling during your morning commute subconsciously launches you into feeling like you're not as pretty, and maybe as a result, not as worthy. But why? If society doesn't make men feel this way, why should women have to? Luckily for me, my breakthrough assignment and becoming a beauty editor made me realize it shouldn't be this way. I'm hoping this article can help you realize the same.