By Kendall Bitonte, USA Today Collegiate Correspondent
Cleanser. Lotion. Foundation. Bronzer. Blush. Eye shadow on brow bone, lid and crease. Eyeliner. Mascara. Chapstick.
And that was just a typical Wednesday morning.
The face that stared back in the mirror at 7:30AM, baggy eyed with blonde lashes and an uneven skin tone, was a blank canvas that beckoned for paint, definition and color before being viewed by the world.
As I washed my face that night and watched the colors swirl down the drain, I realized my relationship with creams, powders and wands had become a bit more complicated than Covergirl’s “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful.” In fact, applying and wearing makeup was my ritual, a source of joy and a duty. I thought the products made me prettier, more desirable, and more respected by society.
Over the past twenty-one years, I had been waging a war against the body that I saw. I hated my body; from my thighs to my nose, my attributes seemed alien and I never saw an image that convinced me otherwise. Out of all other means, makeup was quickest for me to stencil myself into the published images of beauty.
But makeup was temporary and fleeting relief. Regardless of my efforts and no matter how much I grew, matured, exercised or what I wore, I could never change how I looked. Yet, I kept trying, failing and trying again.
But on that Wednesday, I lay in bed so tired of failing. The tears of the twelve year old in struggling in the GAP dressing room welled up behind the eyes of the now-almost adult. I was disgusted with myself for this self-hatred. My internal fight had exhausted me.
Enough is enough.
“I’m giving up makeup!”
I got up from bed and zipped my makeup bag shut-and shut it would stay for the next six weeks.
Before going leaving for class on day one, I took one last look in the mirror and did not recognize myself. Oh boy, don’t you look like a ray of sunshine. I threw on a scarf to put something pretty near my face, fixed my hair and stared back at my bare face-everything looked so wrong.
These six weeks are going to suck.
This revulsion at my fresh face did not subside until around week four. In these weeks, my face braved class, extracurricular activities, bars, dance parties, Spring Break and a graduate school interview all without the armor of cosmetics. I faced each day with a dose of doubt and fluttering nerves that someone would call my bluff and question who I thought I was looking so undone. You’re not pretty enough to do this.
Despite my fear, I doubted that someone would say something about my lack of makeup (the possible awkwardness would hopefully stop any sane person). My doubt rang true as I went six weeks without a single interrogation of “Are you not wearing makeup?” In fact, the closest questioning was far from a negative experience: a guy friend of mine asked at the middle of week four, “Did you do something different with your hair? Something looks different, I can’t figure it out but it’s a good different.” I shook my head and smiled. So someone did notice-he noticed me and I am a ‘good different.’ So, while I cannot say if anyone noticed that I did not wear makeup, I can say with absolutely certainty that no one cared.
With these six weeks now behind me, I wear much less makeup. I hardly ever wear anything besides moisturizer and chapstick to class and when I do “glam up” for the weekend, I think of makeup as means to accentuate my features, not to cover them.
But the rebellion against my own demoralization is far from over. As these past six weeks taught me, the world embraces me more than I embrace myself and wearing less makeup has been one small step towards self-love and towards the end of this fight.
Kendall Bitonte is student at Boston College (’12) and a USA Today Collegiate Correspondent. She recently wrote an article titled, Opinion: It’s Time to Go Make-Up Free, after going make-up free for 6 weeks. She included The Beauty Bean as well as one of Alexis Wolfer’s quotes as evidence that she is not alone in her makeup mutiny and push for bettering women’s self image. After reading the article we asked Kendall to tell us more about her experience. Here’s what she said.