The No-Makeup Series: Mistie

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This is Mistie. She has a gentle and quiet spirit about her, a set-apartness. I remember when she stopped wearing makeup, and it was months before I was able to get the scoop on that choice. Today she is sharing her story with all of us!

How old were you when you started wearing makeup?

I took dance class at a young age, therefore, the first time I wore makeup was when I was 6-years-old and I really felt “grown-up” (ha!). I officially began wearing makeup while in the 8th grade. I was only allowed to wear clear mascara and a light pink eye shadow.

Funny story, one time I snuck into my mom’s makeup bag and applied blush on my ENTIRE face. I remember feeling confident and beautiful with that blush plastered on my face. Then the moment came when my mom me—while volunteering in the nursery at church. Public. She asked me why my face was so red, and I told her I was embarrassed. Indeed I was, and when I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t tell if it was the blush or embarrassment making my face red. I learned very young a quick lesson on the difference between blush and powder, and I wasn’t aided by YouTube!

How would you describe your old makeup routine? 

My old makeup routine took about 15 minutes or so. I went through phases of wearing foundation and powder but could never master the art (remember the story from above? Yes, I still had difficulties even in my adult years). I wore mostly eye makeup, which consisted of black mascara, black pencil eyeliner, and the smoky eye palate from Maybelline (4 colors that were specific to each area of the eye). I very rarely changed the color. I do remember seeing all the non-basic colors and one day hoping to be adventurous enough to test them out. That adventure never panned out because of my phobia that came from the blush incident.

How often did you go without makeup before you stopped wearing it?

This question is laughable because I literally would sleep in my makeup at times. In fact, before going to the hospital to have my children, I insisted that I had to wear makeup for the pictures! I was having contractions while putting my makeup on but I was not about to go to the hospital until my makeup was on. The only time I did not wear makeup was when I took it off, most nights, before going to sleep. I would not walk out of the house or let guests in until I had makeup applied.

What made you stop wearing makeup? When? Did you do it cold turkey or gradually?

My husband and I had a conversation a few years back about why women wear makeup, and he was the one that actually brought the topic up for discussion. We were hashing out whether or not it was biblical to wear makeup. I remember being very angry and feeling justified to wear it. I think the anger was really that I was challenged. It took me some time to come to the realization of why I even wore makeup—I had never really questioned that. My mom, her mom, my friends, and every other woman older and younger than me wore/wears makeup. Why would I question something that is so ingrained in our American culture? After some time though, I realized I wore makeup because of my own insecurities/vanity, and in some ways, I was masking the pain of my past. I also wanted to be just like every other woman and feel beautiful.

May of 2016 is when I really felt the Lord challenging me to not wear makeup. It was a year of abandoning the things that came between me and the Lord. First it was coffee and then makeup. The timing was crazy in my mind. My husband is a youth pastor and we were at summer camp. I was serving as a high school girls leader. All week I had been fighting walking into the evening service without any makeup. Just a little side note: this is not a small camp. There are literally thousands of students every week during the summer, and thousands of students with their sponsors, plus nighttime service, already equates to a lot of insecurities. Needless to say, this was not something that I would have just mustered up on my own. But it was the Lord, and I knew if I didn’t do it, I would be disobedient and it would continue to nag me until I actually did something. I kind of also mentioned it to the girls that I was counseling during the week (ok, they asked me what was going on in my mind one particular day, and I couldn’t hold it in any longer and it came out an emotional wreck. We all have these, right?)  At one point during the week I thought, “what kind of example am I showing these girls? If I don’t do this, I am being disobedient, yes, but the girls…though they don’t know it, they are holding me accountable.”

Thursday night, the night everyone gets all gussied, I stood before the mirror contemplating on what I should do. Standing there with no makeup, it seemed that every flaw was spotlighted more than ever. I looked at the mirror, at the writing just above it. The day before camp, I had journeyed to the cabin to fill gift bags and write encouraging messages on the mirrors for the girls. I wrote, “You are beautiful,” praying it would encourage the girls, but it was screaming at me at that given moment. I really honestly believe that God had that message for me. That night, I walked into the evening tabernacle with no makeup and every insecurity that goes along with it.

Why did you throw all of your makeup out? 

I dumped out every piece I owned the day we got back from camp. I knew if I held onto it, I would go back. And, as mentioned, the Lord was specifically telling me to abandon wearing makeup. I didn’t know it then but I do now, almost a year later, that I placed my identity in my image and not in the Lord. And if He has called me to living a life following Him, that meant I needed to get rid of any evidence that might even tempt me in the remotest way.

What do you like most about not wearing it?

FREEDOM! Looking over this past year, I can also see that it was such a co-dependent relationship. You see, makeup and I had this love/hate relationship, and makeup usually ended up being the controlling one in the relationship. It’s a process that may have its ups and downs, but the freedom that I am no longer controlled by makeup is something I would not trade for the world.

Cultural norms have always been entertaining to me for some reason. I really have made it a game of going against them, with purpose and not for the sake of being difficult or stubborn (although stubbornness is a rather strong personality trait in me).  I like being me and not like everyone else; God didn’t use a cookie cutter on me and I love embracing that! Being a face streaker, as Holly alluded to, has in some ways taken away pressures; I don’t shop in the makeup area any longer, therefore I don’t have to feel the insecurity of “getting the look” that the model is wearing. For some reason, I thought makeup made me feel confident and secure, but I didn’t know until the other side of not wearing makeup how insecure I was in the way that I wore my makeup.  And this may be silly, but no more running mascara or raccoon eyes is bliss.

What’s the hardest part about not wearing it?

There are so many areas where I have learned not wearing makeup is awkward. For example, my sister got married 3 months after I began this challenge and I remember feeling so “ugly” as l posed for the pictures. The bridal party had their hair, makeup, and nails picture-perfect and I sported the 10-year-old look. By not wearing makeup, I felt as though I stood out and looked younger than my sister that was getting married (she is younger than me!). The places where it is culturally accepted to wear makeup and even pressured to do so (i.e., weddings, graduations, conferences, etc.) are hardest.

Thoughts like, “this is acceptable at 8-years-old but you are in your 30s. It’s a rite of passage when you hit 30, every grown woman I know wears makeup.”  Also, when I wore makeup I looked as though I were in my 20’s. Without wearing makeup, I look as though I just got my driver’s license (ok, maybe that’s a stretch). I feel as though I have earned my 32 years of life, and think I could get more respect from students if I looked my age.

And lastly, I mentioned that I volunteer in the student ministry. Image is everything to students, especially girls. I feel the pressure to cave while serving in the ministry. Whether it’s a Wednesday night trying to encourage teenage girls or a Sunday morning when everyone, not just the teen girls, is dressed to the nines with all their accessories and hair “all did up,” the feelings of inadequacy have overwhelmed me at times.

Was is hard for you to stop? If so, do you find it’s gotten easier with time? Or do you still have days when you want to wear it?

Was it hard to stop wearing makeup??? I remember being in tears some days and feeling so exposed, raw, and vulnerable. The first 3 months seemed it was the death of me. I had to go through the initial shock stage and then a grief stage (it’s awful to say that I grieved not wearing makeup, but it was an addiction and a co-dependent relationship). Then I had to accept it, which was the hardest stage. It was hard because I had to accept what God had given to me and that beauty. Being challenged not to alter it in any way and redefine beauty in His way was difficult. It has gotten easier with time, but I do still have difficult days, although they are few and far between now.

What does your husband think about you not wearing makeup?

My husband loves it on many different levels. He has been so encouraging in the whole process—he has listened on my difficult days and always had a hug. Actually, he tells me I am beautiful more often now than when we were dating.

Has not wearing makeup produced any unexpected affects/feelings in your life? 

Yes. As mentioned before, I really had no idea it would be so difficult. I thought, “this should be easy” as I struggled to take the first step. Oh the irony! I think that I was really in more denial than anything else and was not realistic about the deeper issues at hand.

Any words of advice or encouragement to those thinking about not wearing makeup?

DO IT!!! I am 100% for you! Don’t give up. It’s hard at first and uncomfortable, but once you can get past the sticker shock (the price that you feel you have to pay not to wear it), it gets easier. And most people won’t even address it with you. They may notice and even have their judgements, but it’s your life and you have every right and freedom to not wear it.

There are a few encouraging things that the Lord has helped me see. On the days that I really feel less than beautiful, He always reminds me that I am adorned in His grace.  And when I rest in that truth, as well as that I am His child and how much He really loves me, those thoughts usually go away almost instantly.

Verses like,

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman that fears the Lord is to be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:30

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.” 1 Peter 3:3-5 ( I want to be like those holy women!!! Worth in God’s sight is far greater than placing my worth in makeup.)

Anything else you’d like to add?

I don’t want to take away from the glory of God. When I focus on myself, I steal His glory and His beauty. I want to be the kind of woman that is so secure with the Lord that He radiates out of me. There is no makeup that can compare to that kind of beauty.

As I reflect on what I say to my precious, nearly 5-year-old daughter—that she is beautiful without fancy dresses or headbands—I have this uncanny feeling that I am a hypocrite when I focus on my appearance and lack of beauty without makeup. As she grows, I don’t want my daughter finding her definition of beauty from the world but from her/our Maker. He is the Master of beauty, why should I teach her otherwise?

I don’t know where to add this, but I know this has been an advantage: I do not have any social media accounts, magazine subscriptions, or a television program that “I have to watch.” Without these streaming into my life, comparison may still be a struggle, but it does not dictate to me that I should be wearing makeup.

Thank you, Mistie, for sharing your story and such lovely, encouraging words to meditate on. You are beautiful. 

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