On any given day, I look the same.
Wash and go, no makeup, no earrings, and no jewelry -- save for my nose ring and anniversary necklace.
I own only a handful of makeup products, and know even less about applying them properly. The extent of my expertise is mascara and a little bronzer (eyeliner too, if I feel adventurous...or like poking myself in the eye).
I wasn't always this way--back in my "straight hair" days, I wore makeup all the time. I felt like I needed makeup to "complete my look" -- rather than a means of enhancing my appearance, makeup became my crutch. I didn't feel attractive, pretty, or ready for the day without it.
When I began dating my current boyfriend Samuel in 2010, I was still pretty into makeup (although I had ditched the bright eye shadows). He insisted that I didn't need the makeup, and that I was beautiful as-is. I only halfway believed him (haha) at the time, but the real change came when I decided to go natural.
During my transition, I embraced more natural products, and got invested in my health and wellness. In truth, my decision to back away from the makeup had less to do with being "more natural" and more to do with the fact that I was working out regularly and leading a more active lifestyle. Fast forward about two years from my transition, and I'm just as described above.
And this is on one of those more adventurous date nights.
My decision to ditch makeup (and only dabble in a little bit on date night) almost entirely is a reflection of who I am at this stage in my life. Anybody that knows me knows that I'm all about comfortable. I wear wash and go's because they're easy, and I don't have to worry about my hair should the weather change (but seriously, I'm in LA) or if I decide to embark on a random adventure.
I own more workout clothes than regular clothes, because I'm active and the clothes are so comfy. I avoid heels like the plague. I don't wear any makeup because I've grown to feel comfortable in my own skin. Besides, if I go missing--I want to help make it a little easier to find me (please laugh, that was a joke).
In more recent months, I've noticed a trend in the natural hair community.
A lot of ladies love makeup. Bold makeup. I'm talking beat faces like they live at MAC (and some of them do work there!) or have a personal MUA at their vanity every morning. Now, I'm not here to knock or judge. By all means, do you! But I do have some questions.
Forgive me now if any of this offends you.
I don't mean to offend, disrespect, or shade anyone. These are just my honest thoughts and feelings, and are in no way the gospel according to NaturallyCurly.
I've seen videos from natural hair YouTubers that discuss at length makeup routines -- involving concealers, primers, contouring, highlighting, blending, and more -- to the point where the person at the end of the video looks absolutely nothing like the person that started it. Many natural hair routine and tutorial videos start out the same way -- the vlogger goes from fresh face to camera ready in 10 minutes or less.
Have we ever stopped to wonder why? Are beat faces and bold lips necessary natural hair accessories? I understand loving makeup for fun, or using it as a means to enhance natural beauty and express creativity.
There are ladies like BeatFaceHoney who have taken makeup artistry to new levels, and I applaud them for pursuing their passions. Showing women how to play up their gorgeous features and build confidence is a beautiful thing. But in my opinion, there is a fine line between enhancing your natural beauty and creating a completely unrealistic aesthetic.
We all have blemishes. We all have flaws, and dark spots, and acne scars, and enlarged pores, and dry skin patches, and bags under our eyes from not getting enough rest. However, many of us choose to conceal our imperfections because somehow we've gotten the message that those things make us less than beautiful. In truth, I find beauty in not being completely flawless -- because it means we're human.
I'll admit, there's a lot of pressure in general for women to roll out of bed looking like Beyonce.
But for women with natural hair that pressure is nearly tenfold. Even with all the online and social media support the natural hair community provides, ladies with natural hair are still in many ways under the gun to use makeup to enhance, complete, and beautify --as if natural hair somehow lessens the aesthetics of attractiveness. I appreciate bloggers and vloggers like Shelli (Hairscapades), Ebony Clark (Eclark6), and Francheska (Hey Fran Hey) who share the majority of their content with a bare face or minimal makeup. They make me feel a little less weird for uploading plain-faced selfies, and doing non-camera ready YouTube videos.
This weekend, I wore serious makeup for the first time in over 4 years for a special event.
I'm talking so many shades, tools, and whatchamacallits that I couldn't even begin to tell you what was on my face. My MUA friend did a wonderful job, and I got so many compliments on my makeup and appearance that day. Some folks even told me that I should do the makeup thing more often.
I respectfully declined.
Don't get me wrong, my friend did an amazing job on my face. I felt glamorous and beautiful, like a more fabulous version of myself. But something wasn't quite right. As the day wore on, I started to feel more uncomfortable More unlike myself. More like this version of myself wasn't true to who I am. After I returned to church from my event, I received more compliments on my beat face. But one compliment stood out in particular. One sweet member said about me, "She's a beautiful girl anyway, with or without the makeup. But not because of the outside. It's because of what's inside..."
Of all the yassssss-es and slays I had heard that day, that compliment meant the most. My value in her eyes, wasn't determined by the length of my false lashes (which I had ripped off by that point), or the magical contouring of my cheekbones. It was my character and spirit that spoke to her. But how many of us truly believe our beauty radiates from within? When was the last time someone told you that your inner-self was gorgeous?
At the end of the day, we have to start asking ourselves some questions that may be difficult to digest. Why do you wear makeup? Do you feel uncomfortable being bare-faced? Why? What imperfections are you masking?
Who told you that you needed to put on that face? Are you using makeup as a crutch? If so, what are you overcompensating for? And the biggest question: are you willing to give it up?
Rocking a bare face with natural hair can be uncomfortable, trust me. It was a process, and still is one. There will be days where you feel unattractive, but let's be honest -- we all have those days anyway. But if you can challenge yourself to go one week without makeup, I wholeheartedly believe you'll see some major changes in how you see yourself. We gave up relaxers and flat irons in order to embrace what God gave us, and out of refusal to continue to conform to society's standard of beauty in hair. Imagine what would happen if such a shift occourred in the world of makeup?
How powerful would it be if we could truly embrace our completely natural selves, bare-faced and all?