OK ladies, as promised….I would like to discuss make-up. I know, I know it sounds like the cliched “girl talk” topic, but I would like to take this in a completely unexpected direction.
In the last post we started to talk about a need for a paradigm shift – we need a new way to think about the Beauty God has given us. Instead of believing that beauty is something that we have to create, apply, or scrub on, we need to come to terms with the reality that we already are beautiful. That God created us with the very essence of beauty, that we are born to share beauty with the world. This paradigm shift is not easy to come by. It requires us to consciously remember that we already are the beauty, and to make an effort to identify the things that create our false ‘beauty reality.’ (Remember Girl A and Girl B from the previous post)
I very clearly remember the day I realized that I was comparing myself to every magazine cover girl I saw. I further realized that when I entered a room I would automatically size up every girl in it and determine where I fit in the “beauty pecking order.” (If I wasn’t 1 or 2 by my estimation I would want to crawl into a hole) What a horrible existence! And what a revelation! I was basing much of my self-worth, and almost all of my self-esteem on whether or not I thought I could stack up against air-brushed, glossed over, computer enhanced women on the cover of a magazine! I lost every time! And no wonder I had such a hard time making friends! If I sized up every one first I was failing to see who they were. I was failing to see the beauty they truly had – I had fallen for the lie of shallow, surface-only “beauty,” and it was making me miserable! I bought into the false reality of supposed beauty – hook, line, and sinker! Now in my defense, my false sense of beauty was born right around the time I suffered some terrible wounds in one of my closest relationships. I am sure that this contributed to my falling for the lie – I was hurt, I was vulnerable, and I was already doubting my God-given beauty. So I guess I was in a perfect state of mind to fall for the trap of superficial “beauty.” Nevertheless, the lies persisted even I as I began to heal. Once the veil of reality was pulled back, however, and I realized that the “beauty reality” I was operating in was in fact, superficial and false, my paradigm shift began. I began to study femininity, and God’s amazing design for women. I began to scrutinize my reactions to magazine covers and my tendency for ‘sizing up’ every other woman I met and turning them into my ‘competition.’ I remember very clearly the day when I decided to shake off the shackles of the world’s definition of beauty and to really embrace God’s design and Truth for my feminine heart. I was standing in my little apartment and actually said out loud, “I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I am beautifully and wonderfully made” (paraphrasing psalm 139). I ran to my bathroom and stared in the mirror repeating the verse until I started to smile. “I am done” I announced to the empty room. “I deserve to feel beautiful because I am beautiful, God made me that way, and anything that makes me feel otherwise is not worth my time!”
I know, it’s a little dramatic, but I’ve always had a proclivity towards drama 🙂 It was also freeing. Thus began my journey towards ‘real beauty’ and recognizing it in others as well as myself. I had one hang up though: make-up. Could I still wear it?
This brings us to the main topic for our discussion. The question itself is simple: “If God made us beautiful just how we are, then why do we need make-up?” We can convolute the question and add some guilt to it by asking it this way, “Am I affronting God by trying to ‘improve’ upon His creation by wearing make-up?”
These questions are valid and since we have been discussing beauty at some length lately, I think we should attempt to tackle them. I am by no means an authority on the subject, but I’ve done a lot of thinking, and a lot of reading and a lot of studying. I’ve come up with some thoughts and my own answers to those questions and I’d like to share them with you.
In order for us to begin to answer the question of make-up, I believe we first need to take a little trip back in time to the Garden. Yuppers, back to Eden, before the nasty snake got his fangs into humanity. The late Holy Father, John Paul II, understood how Eden can offer answers to so many of our deep and profound questions. In his “Theology of the Body” he discusses creation, Eden, our first parents, and the Fall at great length. It was during my study of his writings and audiences that I began to really understand the wisdom in ‘going back to Eden’ for so many answers.
We so often overlook this part of Genesis, focusing on the Creation story as a whole and not giving ourselves time to think and meditate on what God intended for His creation, and consequently what was changed by the Fall. Understanding these two concepts is key to our discussion. God’s intent for humanity, the way our first parents were created, is not how we are today. The earth itself, the weather, the interaction of animals…all of it was changed by the act of man turning his back on God. (when I say “man” here I am using the old school collective reference to humanity)
When Eden was brand new and Adam and Eve took their first walk together, all was in perfect harmony. All interaction – even on the smallest levels of cells interacting with other cells – all unison with God’s design – it was flawless. Everything worked together, there was no discord, no chaos, no disunity. Many scripture scholars agree that this extended to even the weather – it too was in total cooperation with the earth- it rained when the plants needed it to, it was dry when that served creation best , no hurricanes, tornadoes or “natural disasters.” In fact, the first recorded “natural disaster” would have been the great flood of Noah’s time. Anyway, amidst all this ‘perfectness’ man and woman saw each other as God truly intended – they were not overly obsesses with their outward appearance (they were naked afterall), they saw with “God’s eye” – into the heart – the whole human, full of dignity and made in the image and likeness of God. This is called the ‘interior gaze.’ I would say that they had absolutely no self-esteem problems. I am quite sure that Adam was totally secure with how he related to Eve, and vice a verse. Eve, would not have even thought to wonder if Adam found her attractive or beautiful. She was made for him, and he for her, they both knew it because they were in total communion with God. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
I think we could agree that since all was perfect, Eve would have been perfectly beautiful, and her body would have been working perfectly too – no sickness, no malnutrition, no visible or invisible flaws. So that means there would have been no dark circles under her eyes. No pigmentation problems, no pockmarks, scars, or imperfections. Could you imagine having absolutely perfect skin tone – everywhere!?
This, my dear friends, is why I believe we have make-up.
After the Fall (the event, not the season 🙂 ) EVERYTHING changed. No more unity. There was discord, disharmony, and disunity. Now all would not work together. The weather would no longer cooperate with what the earth needed (hence droughts, uncontrollable wildfire, wash-outs, blizzards etc). The earth would no longer yield what man needed (which is why he was condemned to toil – Gen 3:17), and most profoundly, men and women became prone to concupiscence. No longer were women and men in perfect relationship.
The fall effected us in far too many ways for me to go into here ( I have already digressed far too much!) but one other way in which we have been effected is the way we see each other and see ourselves. We have lost the ‘interior gaze.’ We see the surface. We see ourselves in the mirror and somewhere deep down we know we are beautiful, but we don’t see it looking back at us. Somehow we feel what we have been shortchanged because of the fall. We know we are made to be the beauty, but we feel like we fall short – like the world doesn’t see us the way we know we really are supposed to look. That, is why we wear make-up. It makes up for the fall. Somehow we feel that if we apply just a little more color around the eyes, and conceal those horrid dark circles (mine are kinda purple – especially after a night with baby!) we get back a little bit of what we lost in Eden. And I don’t think thats necessarily a bad thing.
In Eden there were no free radicals, and I bet no sunburn – I mean it would have been cruel of God to create two people, totally naked and then have them be subject to sunburn! Before the apple, Adam and Eve would not have been subject to the ‘signs of aging’ and all the effects that living in an imperfect world have on our bodies. Once again, maybe make-up is our way of attempting to make up for the loss of this perfection. We want to be seen the way God intended – as the beauty, which we are! Make-up perhaps helps us feel like we are reclaiming that which we lost in Eden – looking our best when living in a fallen, yet redeemed world begins to take its toll.
So how does this fit into my new Beauty Paradigm of Reality? The way I finally came to terms with make-up in my new reality is this: I wear it, but only to enhance the beauty I know I already have. To make up for too many nights of very little sleep and a diet that I know should be healthier. Some days when I need a little help in the self-esteem department (as in, God, I know You created me to show the world Your beauty, but I feel really lacking in that department right now) make-up makes up for the courage I lack to face the world. It helps me feel like I am bringing out in myself the beauty I know is there. This way of thinking is only effective though, if you have already switched your paradigm – if you have embraced the idea that God created you with real beauty – that you have it already. If you haven’t internalized this reality than no amount of make up will ever make you feel like you think you should.
So, what is your beauty reality? What paradigm are you operating in? And what do you think about Make-up? If nothing else, perhaps these musing here today have given you some food for thought. I’d love to hear what you think, so please feel free to comment!
Next up………Facebooking God…….did I get you curious!?? 🙂