A Case for a Bare Face
Imagine this. You enter an art gallery where you find the world’s most talented artist admiring his sculpture. This man is no ordinary artist. He is the most praised artist in history, more than Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Monet, and Picasso combined. He is passionate about his work and cherishes his pieces immensely. You, however, do not see the beauty in his art. You walk up to him, look at the sculpture, scoff, and blurt out, “Ugh, it looks horrible!”
Would you ever do such a thing? Just imagine the absurdity of this remark. You, who know nothing of art, tell a wildly talented man that his sculpture is ugly, incomplete, and flawed. No one in their right mind would ever say anything like that. Or would they? The truth is you already have. So have I.
I know I am not alone when I look into the mirror, especially without my makeup on, and say, "Wow, I look gross today.” Think about this though: the Creator, when forming our bodies together, handpicked the unique features that make up who we are. We are beautifully made. The Lord, who designed the majestic mountains and crystal-blue ocean, “created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Neither the sky, the birds, the flowers, or any other beautiful creation is made in God’s image except us. He looks at us with deep love and declares that it is woman and man, over anything else, who are the pinnacle of His creation, His most prized piece of art.
This analogy came to me one day when I was feeling the exact opposite of beautiful. That day I was not wearing makeup and did not feel pretty. I walked around school feeling insecure, flawed, and exposed. That’s when the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart the truth:
That is how God views his handiwork: a work of art. God did not create us to be ugly, but to be a foreshadow of His infinite beauty. How sad this must make God when we look at ourselves in disappointment, as if His work was not enough. Noticing I had this feeling most often when I was barefaced and unable to hide under my mask of makeup, I decided that for Lent, the Christian season of preparation for Easter, I would learn how to fully embrace the beauty God gave me by giving up makeup.
I did not give up makeup because I believed it was bad, but because I wanted to re-learn how to appreciate my beauty that God created, without my alteration. I wanted to look in the mirror and say “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), not in a spirit of vanity, but of praise for God’s creativity and power. I wanted to let go of makeup because I was using it as a crutch, and it inhibited my gratitude for God and love for myself. The next six weeks that followed, while at times they felt painfully uncomfortable, were a much needed period of spiritual growth. At the end of my Lenten journey, I was able to look at myself in the mirror and be kind to my reflection. The harsh critic in me was silenced.
Let me be completely honest though. Even after the six weeks, I still prefer to wear makeup. I didn’t get to the end of Lent and think to myself, “Wow, I look so much better barefaced.” I still take my makeup bag out most mornings and do my usual routine. My habit of wearing makeup didn’t alter, but what did alter was my outlook. In the past, I wore makeup because I had to. Now I wear it because I want to. Today, when I don’t wear makeup and thoughts of insecurity try to creep their way into my heart, I remind myself that I am a beloved and beautiful creation of God. I like wearing makeup, but even if I don’t get around to putting it on, I will be okay. Insecurity won’t ruin my day. It is there that the power in fasting from makeup lies; it was a shift from dependence to enjoyment.
God made all His creatures immensely beautiful. We must never forget that, even in our moments of insecurity, we are always His stunning creation. If you are like me, and struggle to see beauty in your bare face, consider taking a break from makeup for a little while. Learn, once again, how beautiful you are in your own skin. No, wearing makeup is not inherently wrong, but we don’t want to wear it out of obligation, feeling like we have to in order to be beautiful. When you are confident in your own natural beauty, you can wear makeup because you like it, not because you need it. With or without it, I want you to remember that you truly are wonderfully made, a precious and prized work of art.