The four words that broke my heart and all too soon, I might add. My 3 year and 5 month old daughter watched as I put on my make-up yesterday morning before work and as usual wanted to experiment with a little of it on her own face. I usually give her a soft powder brush that I have never used in make-up before. Yesterday however, she was very aware that there was nothing on her brush or in the cap she was using to dab her brush in. So I gave her a tiny bit of transparent Bare Essentials powder to play with.
I wear make-up every day and I usually put it on when she is not in the room but sometimes she sneaks in and wants to be like mommy and pretend with it. For the most part, I only wear powder, concealer and mascara. The times I have the most trouble keeping her out of my make-up are when I wear eyeshadow. I don’t usually wear it but for special occasions I dab a little on. Yesterday I attended the graduation ceremony of one of my schools and so I was dressed up. I wore a dress and tights (I usually wear pants) and Violet was thrilled to see me in my dress. My daughter wears a dress or a skirt every day, not because I make her but because she loves to wear them. She insists on it actually.
As I was putting on my make-up she came in the room and asked if she could put some on too. She quickly hurried off to get her stool so she could see the mirror and reach my make-up bag. She said, “I want to look pretty too, Mama.” I told her, “You are already pretty sweetheart. Make-up doesn’t make us pretty, it is just fun to wear. Mommy, just wears it for fun.” She asked again. Finally, I relented and gave her the powder brush and empty lid to pretend with.
She wanted the eyeshadow though. I tried to distract her with the softness of the brush and then put a tiny bit of the transparent powder in the lid. But she really wanted the colorful eyeshadow, and why wouldn’t she? It’s sparkly, and full of bright colors like her paint box. I told her she could have the powder then she looked up at me and uttered those four words I was dreading to hear, “But I am not pretty enough!” My husband and I both shared a heartbreaking glance and I tried my best to think of what to say next. I went over to her and hugged her and told her that she was beautiful and my husband came and told her that mommy was beautiful with out makeup too. I didn’t know what else to say.
How did this happen already? How did my sweet little baby come up with the idea that she is not pretty enough in her own skin? We don’t allow her to watch princess movies or even read the books. And she doesn’t play with Barbies. Was it all from just watching me? What could I do to change her mind on this? Is it too late?
Last night, as I showered and got ready for bed my mind still couldn’t stop thinking of what had happened that morning. I wondered about how long it had been since I felt comfortable in my own skin and confident enough to leave my house without wearing at least powder. I can’t remember.
From the time I was at least 14, I felt the need to have make-up on my face to be considered acceptable for public appearances. I remember begging my mother to let me start to wear make-up when I was in the 6th grade and her trying to convince me that I didn’t need it. She finally allowed me to wear blush and pale lip gloss to my first boy girl dance that year. After that came a nude lipstick and clear mascara. By the 8th grade I was wearing it all, from foundation to blue eyeliner and bright lipstick.
I loved my make-up and feeling like a grown up as I painted my face each day. I felt prettier. I felt more confident and more noticeable. Where did I learn this from? Probably from my peers, books, magazine and TV.
My mom was a beautiful woman and I can remember thinking, I can’t wait to be old enough to not worry about imperfections (pimples) that I needed to cover up. My mom had such beautiful skin and she did leave the house without makeup sometimes. I often thought she was one of those people lucky enough to not need make-up. I, on the other hand, am not one of those people. I have breakouts (still do at almost 35) and fever blisters on occasion. I have an uneven skin tone and small eyes. All of these features on my face that were created to be just as they are make me feel insecure and less beautiful. So I have worn make-up to “better myself” on a daily basis since I was a young teen waiting for the day when I wouldn’t need it anymore.
Last night I remembered a girl in college who gave up wearing make-up for Lent to remind herself to not focus on external beauty. At the time I thought, “She can do that because she has perfect skin. I could never do that.” She did have beautiful skin but I am sure she felt insecure about certain things just like the rest of us. It made an impression on me but didn’t cause me to take any action toward changing the way I felt about myself.
As I continued to think about her and then think about my precious and beautiful daughter I realized that the best way to show Violet that she doesn’t need make-up to be beautiful was for me to feel that way about myself. I needed to feel pretty in my own skin to be an example for her. I am not saying that moms need to eschew make-up permanently or that I am a bad mom for wanting to wear it. Because, although I do wear it to improve the way I look, I also really do still love to play with it. What I realized was that I needed to find a balance and that I needed to make sure that she sees me leaving the house and being around other people without it and still feel confident in myself.
So, this morning I took the plunge. I made the decision when I woke up that I would not wear make-up to work today. I showered and styled my hair as usual and then got dressed for the day. When my daughter came in the room I knelt down beside her and asked her to look at mama’s face. She touched my skin and said, “your boo boos (pimples) are all better mama!!” I smiled, knowing that the scars from my last breakout were still visible to me but to her they looked all better. She rubbed my skin and I told her, “mommy is not going to wear make-up to work today. I am pretty enough without it.” She smiled and took my hand.
I want my daughter to feel beautiful everyday. I want her to see the beauty in other people. I want her to see that prettiness is only skin deep but true beauty shines from our souls.
I love that she thinks I am beautiful just as I am. To her, I am perfect. There isn’t a thing about my body that she would change. From my soft arms to my fluffy bum. She loves me. I want to love myself that way too because I want her to love herself in that way.
Yesterday, I wore a short sleeved dress but put a sweater on top. She begged me to take it off. I did for just a moment and she shouted with the purest joy “Mama, I can see your beautiful arms! You are so beautiful!” I believe her when she tells me I am beautiful and I want her to believe me when I tell her she is beautiful too.
Today, I feel a little nervous without my make-up to hide behind but I am trying to make myself make eye contact with people and to smile. It is a start right? I am pretty enough. I am beautiful enough. I am who I am and I hope that I can be confident in that not just for my daughter, but for myself too.
Who will join me in this journey? Let your daughters and any other young women in your life know that they ARE pretty enough. Let yourself know that you are pretty enough.
This is me without makeup today. Join me on facebook or here in the comments and post your beautiful picture without make-up.