I’ve been planning this post for a few days, and am not totally sure what to write. Partly because Hannah has said most of it here, but also because I dont quite know how to sum up the lat 40 days (plus Sundays) that doesnt sound trite.
So usually for lent I give up chocolate. I find it hard, but not in a really-challenging-in-any-kind-of-fundamental-way challenging, just that I like chocolate and dont like saying ‘no’ to it (as an extension of this, I gave up chocolate as a New Years resolution this year…I KNOW!!!). However, I dont ever feel that giving up chocolate is any kind of challenge to who I am, its just an exercise in a bit of self control.
This year, on the other hand, I gave up make-up, and TV. And these were real fundamental challenges. Well, the make up was. I didnt actually miss TV (we still watched some box sets, but did this more intentionally rather than just having friends/big band theory on all the time) and am now working on Matt to cancel our Sky subscription. But make up was another story… As I have written about previously, I barely recognised myself sans le slap, and honestly, for the first couple of weeks I bordered on depressed, such was my horror and shame at going out bare faced. A girl I went to school with and havent seen for 9 years now works for the same charity I do, and I have twice visited the offices where she works and neither time have I managed to go and say hi because I felt so horrible without the make-up. I know this is a melodramatic comparison, but you know how when people have major plastic surgery, they have to have counselling before they see their face because they wont recognise it, I honestly felt a bit like that…I was genuinely shocked every time I caught sight of myself in a mirror. I realised I hadn’t been to church with no make-up on in 15 years!!! However, VERY gradually, it did get easier. 40 days is actually a pretty long time, and I did start to get used to my face. There were some days I wished I could have had a bit of concealer or a smudge of mascara…going out for a birthday meal with my most glamorous friend was one of those moments, as well as totally changing my hair colour and not being able to figure out if I liked it without make up… but overall, for work, church, time with family, I forgot I wasnt wearing make up, and I gained 15 minutes sleep in a morning.
One thing I was really challenged by was how much I hide behind my looks. Do NOT read me wrong, I dont think I’m much of a looker by any means, but I am aware that I’m a non-hideous 20 something woman and that made up right and with my hair done I dont look too awful. However, it was only when some of that was stripped away that I realised that sometimes I try to use it either as an advantage or as a security in difficult situations. For example, dealing with difficult blokes at work, I DO flutter my eyelashes a bit to try and win them over. I dont flirt, and I dont degrade myself, but somehow I find some confidence that wasnt there without the makeup. It challenged me about what tools and resources I CAN use in those situations, and also challenged me about how I approach men generally. That wasnt comfortable, but I needed it.
And when Easter Sunday arrived, I wore make up, but within 20 minutes of church I’d taken it off. My face felt cakey and my eyes hurt from the mascara. I’m not saying I’ll be nudey faced for life now, but I certainly think I will wear a lot less and feel ok about it.
I have had a few people say to me ‘I could never go without makeup for 40 days.’ And a year ago, I would have been one of them, I am amazed that I did it, and what I learned from it. And it has certainly challenged me more than 4 days without chocolate!!!