In my former life before COVID, I began each day with a careful outfit selection and artful application of makeup. I inserted my contact lenses, combed out my eyelash extension and smoothed any stray frizzy hairs with a heated brush.
The next thing I knew I was looking in the mirror through my eyeglasses at my eyelash-less eyes. Gone was any need to look “presentable.” Right away I discovered that blush and lipgloss brightened my mood but that was all the makeup I needed. As the months passed I’ve never felt the desire to even out my eyebrows, smooth my skin or conceal my spots or circles.
It’s a relief, right?
I’ve begun getting reacquainted with my unadorned face.
We have a way of seeing ourselves that isn’t really looking, or looking at ourselves without really seeing. I started with my nose. “Hello there,” I said, “You certainly are substantial.”
I don’t have anything against my nose, but I tend to look above and below it at my eyes and smile, and delete any photo with an angle remotely unflattering. The same with all visible signs of aging, always making sure to use the enhancing “portrait” feature on my iPhone.
A touch of discomfort bordering on shame, perhaps?
With my curiosity aroused I played with a couple of different kinds of photos and paintings as part of my exploration. The process moved me further along in my journey of “learning to see” and a step toward letting go of defining my self image by a certain type of prettiness captured in a photo.
Freed from that expectation I turned back to focus on my love of color. As the hillsides dazzled with the last of the wildflowers, I made the best clothing purchase of my life. For $28 Amazon sends me a package of bandanas in a brilliant multitude of colors. Daily walks have been my happy time during SIP and in May I created some new lip glosses to match my bandanas. Friends and clients were in need of some cheering up so I made some for them as well. The Self-Care Lipgloss collection was created featuring Tender Pink, Soft Sienna, Sweet Lilac and Warm Apricot. Soft, luscious, hydrating, and easy to wear with little or no other makeup. In June I added Gentle Red lipstick and Rare Rubies lip gloss.
The bandanas combined with the new lipglosses created a color bonanza that lit up my face in every selfie. In need of a haircut, braids are helping me control my mane but also make me feel like a kid on the way to summer camp.
Looking at these photos I feel I’ve come full circle, back to my early 20’s when I first had my colors “done” and fell in love with the process of wearing hues that enhanced my energy and complexion. What fun to experience the pure pleasure of that again without the need to be so polished all the time.
Wearing masks that cover our faces (and sadly our lipstick) is a necessity for the foreseeable future, and I haven’t found a way to feel positive about it. Maybe you have. For now, I’m just enjoying the times when I’m home or outdoors. I wear makeup when I feel Iike it just to enjoy the familiar pleasure, not to be “presentable.” There is a stirring in the beauty force as clothing stores reopen and we venture out to get our pedicures and haircuts. We’ll see what’s ahead…but I think we will all come through this with a changed perspective about our appearance and the demands it makes on our time and energy.