Adjusting to life without makeup feels a lot like walking into a very dark room.
My senses are hyperaware as I constantly scan others reactions to me, scanning my own ‘take’ on how I feel, checking in with what I am perceiving. This gets tiring pretty quickly and it’s only my second day. I’ll have an opportunity to observe more outside of my immediate environment and take mental notes since I have tickets to a jazz performance this evening. (Made these plans before I decided to challenge myself.)
I admit, it’s taking a lot of effort to remain neutral and detached about all of this. It’s difficult when I am more keenly aware of all my choices around my appearance, like what clothes I wear and why I even bought them in the first place. Do I wear jewelry? What about that scarf to tie my colors together? Does it matter what shoes I wear… and why did I buy them in the first place? And I haven’t even gotten to my hair.
(I know, First World problems.)
Truth be told, I was going to have this experience be one of showing up ‘totally different’. I was going to wear only jeans, tees, sweatshirts, and sneakers. No jewelry, not even a wedding ring. Nothing to give anyone material to form an opinion or prejudgment about me. But that would have been reverting to the years I spent as ‘mom to young children’, dressed for practicality and durability, totally invisible to pretty much everyone. Or at least it felt that way… and it wasn’t a good feeling.
The point of this exercise is not to be invisible. It’s to immerse myself in being visible and vulnerable.
In a word: seen.
That means no hiding behind sunglasses and baseball cap when I walk the dog pre-shower, justifying my disguise with sun glare, wind, and bed head. (Well, admittedly, most of these are true but it’s time to come clean about my reasons.)
It requires that I make eye contact with people regardless of the fact that I am without ‘my face’, rather than looking away quickly after acknowledging the other person. (Surely we’ve all heard women always say they have to ‘put on their face’. Many of us have probably used these exact words ourselves!)
I plan to chose my words carefully and not make excuses for my appearance, which I’ve done more times than I can count even when I have ‘my face on’ and am dressed reasonably well but still feel uncomfortable.
And in some ironic twist … it means that I cannot obsess over my posts to this blog and social media — checking all for response. If I am truly committed to showing up, I would be replacing one need for approval with another. While I care and am curious about everyone’s experience with being vulnerable and facing fear, I can’t allow my need for acceptance drive how I show up.
In sum: It’s time to be kinder to, and more accepting of, myself.
Easier said than done.
How have you hidden in plain sight? Let us know in the comments section!
Copyright by Donna Cerame, 2014.