*Disclaimer for men –
while this post may have the appearance of having a female target audience,
these words are written for you too.
Minimal makeup has been trending in recent years, which is awesome, in my opinion. This takes women who dislike makeup or simply don’t have the time (or care to have the time) for a makeup routine into the realm of ‘in’ and fresh. Everyone likes to feel ‘in’, right? We may deny wanting to feel ‘in’ but we’re competitive creatures so for the sake of time, let’s just own it.
I have no issue with how much makeup one applies, usually. There are moments I am tempted to pull aside a teenager in the grocery store and say, “Oh girl- let momma just help you for a second. Your eyeliner had a little adventure….”
What I do take issue with is the perception that if women wear minimal or no makeup they must have a better heart or deeper soul– as if the extra minute it takes to put on eyeliner is robbing them of their dedicated prayer time. That sounds silly but it’s real. While no one would actually say that less makeup = more depth, the perception exists and I’ve overheard conversations where this is actually implied!
Perhaps it’s easy to associate makeup with vanity when vanity is simply defined as excessive pride in ones’ self. Vanity lives in the workplace, on the golf course, in schools, at the gym, at Little League games and at home. It is certainly not defined by quantity of makeup or hair product. Vanity exists where pride is and can be present either in the excursiveness of OR lack of grooming, makeup, or style. I’ve heard women brag about both. Vanity is not the condition of one’s skin, hair, or attire. It’s the condition of one’s heart.
I was recently perusing one of my favorite leadership magazines. One of the articles was highlighting a ‘think tank’ that included tremendously respected Christian leaders conversing with university students about concerns and issues related to today’s culture. As I read about their discussions, my heart began beat a little faster and my mind raced, whirling and imagining the intensity and challenge of those thought-provoking discussions! Oh, to have been a fly on the wall! A teeny tiny bit of envy stung me. I wished, just for a moment, that I was one of those college students. I studied the picture of attendees and quickly realized I wouldn’t have fit in at all. The ladies in the room wore dark attire just like the men, had dark hair that limply fell to their shoulders, and wore zero makeup.
I’m assuming that it’s a sign of respect for students to dress in business attire. Understandable… I guess. An aside – can you imagine how much more ‘business’ would be accomplished and how much creativity and innovation would flow in a room if people were required to wear bright purple and green jumpsuits? Perhaps this wouldn’t work so great in the biochemical engineering industry but there are so many other industries that need a shot of fun in the arm! Faith can and should be such a BLAST! Unfortunately faith receives a bad rap from well-intending folks and as a result, no one wants faith. It’s becoming the next ‘f-word’.
“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” – C.S. Lewis
Perhaps these young ladies wanted be taken seriously, like the boys. Ooooh, yep – I just opened that can of worms! The man-made limitations on the female gender are real but I’m not a feminist so I’m not going there. I’m a people-ist. We should all desire to go a little deeper than suits, titles, and genders. And aren’t power suits, power ties, and power colors a little early 2000’s anyway? Shouldn’t they have died with shoulder pads? How about we actually respect people because they’re respectable and not because they wear a suit or title. We’d sure get some better leaders out of the deal.
Perhaps the ladies’ drab attire was required by the hosting school. *sigh* Do we wonder why culture finds spirituality boring or irrelevant when this is how we teach our next generation to represent themselves in order to be taken seriously? “Hey, check out this exciting room of tomorrow’s leaders! Who wants to be next!?!”
Perhaps these young ladies simply prefer simplicity. And that’s awesome. I’m not sure how many little girls dream of growing up to look like a dead tree branch, but whatever. We all go through stages. My generation introduced grunge, so…
I want to clarify that I am not defining or addressing beauty in this post.
“Make-up can only make you look pretty on the outside but it doesn’t help if you’re ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the make-up.” – Audrey Hepburn
Okay, maybe I tiptoe over the line of addressing beauty but my desire is for women to embrace the feminity God gave them and I’m certainly not defining what that looks like. In fact, if I were to define beauty, I would describe a strong and delightful woman named Lizette. She was an adopted grandmother who was claimed by cancer long before my boys had the blessed opportunity to meet her.
During my high school years, Lizette lived in an apartment next door but was a permanent fixture in our home. As soon as I had my driver’s permit, she taught me how to drive her VW van (manual transmission) and when I got married several years later, she helped arrange my flowers. She was a fantastic cook and could bake up a storm in our kitchen, teaching anyone within earshot kitchen tips and tricks. She ferociously attacked the weeds in our backyard wearing a sundress while keeping her long silvery-blonde hair in a loose bun on her head. During the moments we worked alongside her she gently instructed us on gardening and life while sprinkling in hilarious stories about raising her own kids. I don’t recall her ever discussing God or religion. She was short, feisty, and French. Her skin was wrinkled and tan, her huge smile and blue eyes were framed with tremendous laugh lines, and she had a deep yet contagious smoker’s laugh. She rarely wore makeup and always wore love and audacity. She was stunning and her legacy is strong. I miss her…
Beauty, depth, and strength of one’s heart or soul isn’t and cannot be defined by how much or how little makeup one wears, how often one colors one’s hair, or their personal style. While I remember my parents lecturing me about vanity, inner beauty, and avoiding traps of judgement based on appearance in high school, it’s unfortunately safe to say that the discussion is still alive and well in culture, churches, organizations, and homes, regardless of how old we get. Plenty of women my age are absolutely caught in the act of judging the book by it’s cover.
Can we all just stop, please? Let’s be gold miners seeking the the treasure in each person’s soul instead of assuming we know what it is based on rumor, appearance, or a bad first impression.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him
who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”