My parents were mostly hands-off with me when I was a teenager, but there were some hard and fast rules: First, be home by the time set for you; next, always let it be known where you are going; and finally, no “crazy” makeup.
I knew other girls around me wore makeup, and they seemed to get all the guys. I would wear some, but my parents and grandparents always said, “You don’t need makeup, you are pretty the way you are.”
When I heard this, I would internally (and sometimes externally) roll my eyes. I mean, come on, weren’t they supposed to say that?
My makeup habit got heavier when I entered college. I started to become more and more worried about never being asked on a date or having a steady boyfriend. I was overweight, so I tried to offset that by making my face look pretty. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, so I covered it up with makeup.
When I started to date, the words “you don’t need makeup” took on a whole new meaning.
I asked my date (who later became my boyfriend) what he thought of makeup.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “Why cover up who you are?”
This shocked me. All I had ever heard was that guys like makeup—that’s why girls put themselves through hours of getting, well, made-up. “You really don’t like it?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I think you are beautiful without makeup.”
I melted into a puddle. I had heard the same words multiple times from others, but when it came from a guy, it became so powerful and so affirming. For the first time, I thought that being comfortable in my own skin might actually be possible.
From that point on, I stopped wearing makeup, except for a little bit of concealer for an acne outbreak or a little bit of lip gloss for extra shine. While my relationship with this guy was short-lived, I continued to wear pretty minimal makeup.
When I met and began dating the man who would become my husband, I asked him the same question I asked my first boyfriend about makeup.
“I don’t really like makeup. You look beautiful without it.”
There were those words again. The power of those words. They had the ability to take my self-doubt and insecurities away. Once again, I felt as though I was allowed to just be me. No masks—makeup or otherwise. Years and years of feeling like I had to be someone else to get anyone to like me melted away.
I really am okay the way I am—and he prefers me this way! Someone really, really likes ME for ME!
As I fell in love with this man and knew I was going to marry him, I finally allowed myself to fully embrace the truth in these words: “You are beautiful without makeup.” That doesn’t mean I stopped wearing makeup, but it meant that I no longer felt like I had to.
I still hear the same thing often from my husband, and it still makes me melt. These words bring tears to my eyes because they affirm just how loved I am by him for who I am.
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