The writing is fat, penciled with deep loops, filling each line with preteen girlishness. I still have that page in the journal, the first one I owned. On that page I declare my vow to my future daughter, to allow her to wear makeup at exactly the same age as I was when I gripped my first eyeliner.
That pearly pink lipgloss and Great Lash mascara were symbols of something more, my first foray into womanhood, a doorway into another life. I was a girl who wanted to be a grownup before I even figured out how to be a child.
I’ve evolved since then, as has my makeup. But what hasn’t faded is my love of all. things. beauty.
Last Friday I woke at 3:30am, drove two hours to the airport, made a beeline to the bathroom and staked my claim in front of the mirror. I whipped out my powder brush, dabbed some bronzer on my cheeks, and swept some magic from my Bobbi Brown bronzing brick over my lids. But horror of horror! I forgot my eyeliner. I felt naked. I love my eyeliner and was relieved to hop over to the MAC Counter in Orlando before the conference got started.
Sound ridiculous? Maybe it is. And maybe that’s why this morning I had the unmistakeable impression that I should give up makeup for Lent.
At first I thought I was mistaken, that couldn’t possibly be what I was hearing. I mean, who gives up makeup for Lent? I love makeup. It’s no big deal, it makes me feel good and bright and ready for the day! I have six speaking engagements over Lent! I can’t not wear makeup and stand in front of people! Plus, God, did I mention I like it?
Sound ridiculous? Yep. And that exact monologue is the exact reason why this is a good idea.
There’s nothing wrong with makeup, and I plan to go immediately back to it on Resurrection Sunday. But, like many other good things in my life, I am prone to making luxuries necessities. Makeup is fun. But sometimes it makes me hide. Sometimes it helps me be more of my false self, less of my ideal self. It’s vanity.
Today I head out for a full day of work. I feel stripped, another reason I know this is a good decision. I take the extra ten minutes in the morning to read a Lenten devotion. I feel those feelings of insecurity rise up and instead of pressing them back I let them go, up and away, rising to my God who is incredibly creative and intimately involved in shaping me into his exact impression of beauty. And I believe that has very little to do with my eyeliner.
So I submit to this one small sacrifice, to the extra minutes each morning to remember the great and wonderous and crazy God I serve, one who uses bread from the sky and talking donkeys and bronze snakes and palm trees and mustard seeds to teach us about Himself. And I’m smiling.
Why not makeup?
Here is a video Nicole recorded as an update on her 40 days without makeup:
"It's not so much about the outside features as maybe some longstanding patterns, where makeup is part of the process of feeling confident and ready to be in front of people. I don't think at the heart of it that that's bad, but it's been really eye-opening to see how much that means to me."
Here's Nicole's final reflections after the end of her fast from makeup:
"When I stopped wearing makeup for 40 days, I realized just how much I made things a requirement for my life."
What about you? Have you given up anything from (or added any practices) for Lent? What did you learn from the experience?
Nicole Unice is the author of She's Got Issues, and blogs at www.nicoleunice.com. Part Bible teacher, part community organizer, part busy mom, Nicole has the uncanny ability to relate to people in all ages and stages of life with her “keeping it real” approach to ordering a life around God’s word. Nicole received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the College of William and Mary and her masters in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. You can also learn more about Nicole at www.hopecentral.com.