Wandering Through Nothingness

A Little Something from Molly Barker

The Naked Face Project

on January 27, 2012

I know that today…my life is changed.  I’m not sure I will ever be able to go back, maybe I won’t want to…but to me this is a big deal…I’m shifting.  I’m beginning to see what I’ve tried not to…and it’s scary…if I look at it from the big picture.  So here goes.

Every once in a while someone comes along and you know, from the get-go, you were meant  to meet them.

Caitlin Boyle is one of those people in my life.  If you don’t know who Caitlin Boyle is, please take a minute and get to know her.  The quickest way to do that is go to her blog www.healthytippingpoint.com or www.operationbeautiful.com.

I met Caitlin about two years ago when she moved to Charlotte.  We went to lunch.  We were friends…immediately.  Since that time, she has been a Girls on the Run coach, run a marathon, done a triathlon, written three books, been on the Today Show and gotten pregnant.

Recently we went for coffee.  We began to speak of our work around beauty, gender, stereotypes, negative self-talk, cultural norms and 8 year old girls.  (Not necessarily in that order, but more like…all bunched up together.)

Caitlin:  What do you say to one of your little GOTR Girls when she asks you why you wear make up…or why you highlight your hair?

Molly:  Because I like the way it looks, I guess.

Caitlin:  I say something like, “Because it’s fun” or “I like to.”  But what would you say Molly, if you were really honest.

Molly:  (I stopped to think about my HONEST answer and I admit it took me a while because I’ve never really thought about why, exactly, I highlight my hair, wear make up or…add this ritual to the list…shave my legs.)  My honest answer?  I feel incomplete without it.  I think it makes me look younger and I guess I think younger is prettier, better somehow…and in our culture more powerful.

YUCK!  Hypocrite…I hear myself say inside. How many hundreds, maybe thousands of times, have I looked an 8 year old girl directly in the eye, held her hands in mine, and told her “You are beautiful just the way you are.”

We pause…she and I have built our entire lives around authenticity…using our experiences, thoughts, time and intelligence…to transform cultural norms around beauty and gender…to help little girls and big girls, alike, see that they are beautiful just the way they are…that beauty really is an inside job…that when we love the BIG US on the inside, the outside will, as an outcome, be loved too!  Our power is in our authenticity and our strength of character.

We remain silent.

Caitlin:  Wonder what it would be like to be able to answer those girls honestly…to say precisely why we do these things.  To know what it is like to NOT do those things so we can say with certainty that we chose them.

Molly:  Liberating.

Caitlin:  Scary as hell.

We smile…both of us that kind of devilish smile that comes to one’s face when both fear and joy occupy the same thought.

Caitlin:  Let’s do it.  Let’s go sixty days without using any beauty products or girl-woman-only products.  No shaving, no tweezing, no highlighting, no high heels, no skinny jeans, no smelly lotions, no make-up, no padded or push-up bras.  No flatiron, curler, hairdryer.

We pause.  I look at her.  She looks at me.

Molly:  I’m training for a triathlon.  I’ll be in the gym AND the pool.  I won’t be shaving.  That’s gross. I’ve got a ton of speaking engagements, media opportunities.  I will be in front of large crowds of people, the media, photos taken.  I can’t do it.  (I’m smiling the whole time I say this.)

Caitlin:  I’ve got a book coming out…If I’m lucky I’ll be back on the Today Show…no makeup.  My hormone-riddled-pregnant-teenager-all-over-again face will show.

And so here we are…two days out from experiencing life in a way that I have never known…or at least not known since I was 11.  I started highlighting my hair, the summer of 1972 with lemon juice.  I do not know what color my hair is.

I began shaving my legs, wearing make up and using a padded/cuppy bra in seventh grade.  I don’t think I can honestly say, that I’ve gone one full week without wearing what my daughter, when she was a little girl, used to call sassy shoes, sassy pants or sassy shirts…sassy is code for high heel, tight and most of the time uncomfortable.  It’s just been a part of my southern DNA.   Sure…a few days without playing by the “fashion rules” so what?  But three months, continuing my professional and personal (dating, parenthood, social) life…what might happen?

We are both here to shout it out from the mountain top, that we are not suggesting any of these things are wrong.  What we are suggesting is why?  Why do women potentially and occasionally permanently damage their feet, calves, achilles from wearing heels?  Why do women wear make-up…like really why?

Why do we highlight our hair?  Why do we think that wearing sassy clothes makes us sassy?  Might we discover our sexuality/sensuality is more of a “be” kind of thing rather than a “how we look” kind of thing?  Does looking younger really matter?  Have we ever tried just being what we are…looking like how we really look…naked face, open eyes and totally free to be as we are with the world around us…not just some of the time, but all of the time?

I’m also not trying to trivialize the plight of women from around the world.  Women in so many areas of the world don’t have the luxury of this conversation.  They are concerned with living another day…to see another day…simply because they are a woman.  But I wonder if on some very simple level…maybe even deeply within our molecular connection…we don’t all cry out a little anytime we give in to any systemic view that (may) limit us.

I guess it all comes down to the question under all the easy questions which is…what is THAT line you simply won’t cross?  Is it wearing heels?  Is it accentuating your breasts with a padded bra?  Is it highlighting your hair?  Is it Botox?  Is it breast implants?  Is it plastic surgery? Is it connected to what is appropriate sexual behavior and what is not?  Is it woven into your religious, political, familial beliefs?  Is there a line in your life that others have set for you…a line over which you have no control?  What is the line you simply won’t cross and why do we choose things on this side as “okay” versus things on that side as not?  What are our justifications, rationalizations to do what we do and aren’t those availalbe no matter where you draw the line?  Why is one line right and another NOT right?  Genital mutilation, an accepted feminine ritual in several nations, is an extreme form of systemic predjudice as far as I’m concerned, but might plastic surgery be considered an extreme form by some naturalists?

It is a very complicated conversation and can rightly so, be a hot topic for many people.

I have no idea what the outcome of this sixty day journey will be, but I do know that I will be digging deeply into some things that potentially frighten me…like looking older, somehow seeming less sexual/sensual/desirable, not feeling complete or professionally buttoned up.  But on the other hand, everytime in my life I have let something go, something else has come into my life. Something positive, rich and fulfilling.

Naked Faced

I told my daughter about this adventure and her response…”Maybe I will finally get to school on time.  Besides, I’ve told you for years (she is 13 now) that you don’t need to do all that stuff anyway.”

My 16 year old son was totally grossed out.  The body hair thing…well…let’s just say he could hardly imagine it.  “Don’t pick me up at school.” I think he was kidding, but I’m not sure.

Caitlin and I will be chronicling our journey on our blogs with our words, some photographs and video footage.  We have NO idea where any of this will push or pull us…but I do know, without a doubt that when it is all said and done, I can begin my response to a little 8 year old when she asks, “Why do you do that?” with “I choose to do this because….”  What rounds out the sentence will be what I think Caitlin and I will discover.

I wonder if we aren’t making a bigger statement here than just exploring the American beauty landscape.  Might we learn that all of these feminine/gender/beauty/sexual stereotypes connect us, in some way, to our sisters across the globe…that by exploring these beauty “handcuffs” or” treats” :) …this simple, little, nearly-superficial-relative-to-their-plight-experiment might in some way be encouraging a woman from across the world to explore HER’S.  What is the line she will no longer allow…what choices does SHE make or buy into that limit her potential and which ones does she avoid that may enhance it?  What will we stand for together and what will we stand AGAINST?  How does returning to the beauty, child-like curiosity and the unfiltered view of the 8 year old girl impact us all…whether we live here or in another nation?

I just want to feed my curiosity…explore what is unknown.  But could I possibly, by being curious within the small space I live,  in reality, be encouraging my sisters, far, far away  to be curious as well.  I want to as one girl in Girls on the Run put it so beautifully, Be the Boss of My Own Brain.

I’d love for you to join us, share in the journey.  We start February 1st and go ALL the way through April 1st.

To join in the conversation add your remarks here or go to our Facebook page.  The Naked Face Project.  You will also find everything you need to know about what’s going on, as well as our essays chronicling the experience at www.thenakedfaceproject.com.   You can also email us at thenakedfaceproject@gmail.com.

Cailtin has written a beautiful piece for today and will be chronicling her experience too.   Read all about it at www.healthytippingpoint.com.

Wish me luck and love.


58 responses to “The Naked Face Project

  1. Jaime says:

    Molly, that is AMAZING!!! Even as a 31-year old, I have to repeatedly tell my family why I don’t want to dye my hair (it’s dark brown and definitely showing many, many strands of silver and gray). I love my gray! :) This is so daring and courageous, to buck the beauty myth that has been handed to us for so many years. I admire you guys.
    And btw, your “naked face” pic is beautiful!

  2. Elaine Miller says:

    Molly, Molly, Molly!!! Always with the challenges!!! <3<3<3 I pretty much gave up on the high heels a few years ago (with rare exceptions) and my clothes are more in the quirky, comfortable category than the sassy. But I have lately found myself consistently putting on eye make-up and lipstick – which is something I used to do only for dress-up occasions. If one of the GOTR girls I used to coach asked me, Why do you do that? I would say, without this stuff on my eyebrows and lashes and lips, I look somehow faded and tired, and since I don't want to be or feel that way, I use the make-up to wake up my face.

    Now, I asked myself, is that a "legitimate" reason to wear make-up? I don't know. I have also recently been seeing this mental image of myself years from now. It is a very specific image. I am standing on a sunny beach in the springtime. My hair is pure white, my face is un-made up, my eyes are sparkling and I am laughing with pure joy. I WANT to become THAT version of myself. Does that mean I need to stop with the face paint NOW? I don't know.

    What i do know is that I love you for asking these questions of me and showing me, yet again, a way to challenge myself and my view of the world. Let's go naked!!

  3. Adrienne says:

    Good luck! I am very excited to read about your journey!

  4. I commend you on this project and will follow you through this. I wish you much intellectual profit from this and I hope to learn from it as well!!

  5. Anne says:

    Always insightful, thirsty for knowledge, brave and bold. Molly, I so look forward to following both of you as you embark on this project.
    You consistently emit a beautiful, inspiring, authentic energy. Thank you.

  6. [...] check out TheNakedFaceProject.com, as well as my introductory post on Healthy Tipping Point and Molly Barker’s introductory post on Wandering Through Nothingness. [...]

  7. Mel says:

    An interesting project for sure! I’m a little surprised neither of you mentioned similar experiments other women have done, ranging from no make up for a month to those who also gave up shampoo and soap.

    I wonder what the short term effects will be as well as the long term. I went months without wearing makeup in college, and when I went back to it even just mascara felt like a lot. Eventually, though, you add on a little more and a little more and now I’m back to concealer, mascara, and blush every day and more for special occasions.

    • Mel…there are undoubtedly so many American women who live like this all the time. I know, however, that the group of women I know, hang with and work with…it’s just become standard…this whole beauty ritual we go through everyday. I appreciate your comments so much.

      Living mindfully isn’t easy.

  8. Janice says:

    I completely respect what you are undertaking. But isn’t it about balance too? I am of hispanic heritage, growing up with role models, aunts who told me that they NEVER let their husbands see them without make up. Who were they looking good for, if not their spouse? My mother inspected my closet for flash and fun, commenting I was too beige. I thought it was too much and rebelled comparatively speaking. I often go days and have gone months without make up, less often as I age… But I do wear make up, I definitely care about what I wear and how I look. What is the balance between self care and caring too much?

    Your project has made me think. Thank you and good luck!

    • Oh Janice…you’ve hit it sister! It’s about choice…choosing those things we wish to bring into our lives. The irony for me…is I don’t know what I want or why I do the things I do. That’s what I’m trying to figure out! Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Zoe says:

    Cool! I don’t wear make-up and at 32, I still don’t know how to curl my eyelashes. I don’t understand how to apply eye shadow, eye liner, or lipstick. I only moisturize and put something on my nose to make it appear less shiny. I love my skin so I concentrate on keeping that healthy, but not enhancing it. I don’t know how to properly do my hair. I blow dry it so it doesn’t appear as thin but when you ask others, they’ll tell you my hair is flat (people have actually said that to me). I’ve worn a padded bra since I knew they existed. I am literally flat as a pancake and could wear a training bra (but hey, it does get cold out and the padded bra is nice!)

    But you’re right. Take that all away and it feels…naked. You’ll see your reflection off my nose. My hair will apparently be flat anyway. I can use some band-aids on a cold day ;-)

    On the other hand, now that I’ve written all this out, when it really comes down to it, I am most comfortable with myself when I wear clothes that I feel comfortable in. I’ve ran two marathons wearing a sports bra (why I own one I don’t even know since I obviously don’t need it) and wow, my hair was really something special after that! I didn’t care when I started the race or when I finished or in any of the training runs, but I was comfortable in my clothing. In a situation where I’ve had to speak publicly or meet new people, when I wear comfortable clothing that I love, I feel comfortable and can be outgoing. Still no make-up. Not necessarily name brands. No heels. I don’t own any fashion boots. But comfortable and presentable for whatever the situation. That is how much clothing effects me. Because we do have to wear clothes. We can cover up hairy legs. If my clothes aren’t tight or revealing and I’m not swimming in them, I feel good.

  10. Betsy says:

    I love this idea and wish you positive conclusions!! I am allergic to make up anymore and my feet hurt in heels way too much to bother. I have excepted that I can not wear makeup even though I feel like the only one sometimes. I do still color my hair and highlight it but only because I like it. It started as vanity but 2 years ago I had cancer and I lost most of my hair and I hated wearing scarves and hats all the time, they were too hot. I just gave in to my vanity and just figured who really cares? I didn’t much care what people thought of my shaved, very thinned out stubbles. The only thing that concerned me is that I scared little kids. When my hair grew back in I couldn’t wait to color it again but only because I did not want to be gray yet. I still have acne problems at 50 years old so going grey is a little hard for me on top of that. My biggest vanity want is to have clear, whiskerless skin. lol I shave my legs when my hair starts to pull at my socks or pant legs, not for anyone else. I just got very tired of doing this for everyone else but me. I want to be clean and appropriate for the occassion but I am tired of feeling like if I don’t dress or look a certain way that I won’t be excepted. I see my daughters growing up worrying about what the boys will think and thier classmates and it breaks my heart to think we have let society rule how we look. I am disgusted with the ads and clothing stores for how they say to our daughters and sons that they should dress a certain way. Especially for how little of clothing there is in an outfit these days. My youngest daughter is 13 and at 10 years old could not find clothing that wasn’t already promoting showing off your body and cleavage. I love what you are doing and I hope it starts a trend for all young girls, boys, grown women and men!! I love natural but I don’t like the image that our girls think they have to follow of today’s fashions. I don’t feel that is freedom or liberating I think it is saying even more that we have to be skinny and sexy to be appealing. Do you have any ideas on how we can turn that around??? Good luck on your adventure/challenge. I am anxious to hear what your thoughts are when you are finished. Take care and thank you for sharing this with all of us.

  11. Rock on! I’m with you all the way!

  12. Stephanie says:

    Great idea! I love self-experiments! Those that are for you (and only you), yet you share because you realize they may have value and impact on others and you realize you aren’t alone in your struggles and fears. All good stuff!

    I encourage you to be mindful and curious of the “mind-games” you play with yourself during the process. That is, can you really let yourself just be or do you find other, creative ways to cover-up/mask the “true you”. It’s one thing to say I won’t shave for 2 months, but it’s another thing to only wear pants and long sleeve shirts. :) But, I’m just projecting my own “would-be” struggles onto you and Caitlin. Sometimes I wonder if the need for make up, shaving, beauty etc hints at a deeper fear than societal acceptance, but one that tells us we are inadequate and flawed — therefore unlovable.

    Glad and grateful to be connected and learning from strong, authentic women such as you and Caitlin!

  13. ysathena says:

    Molly, so this morning I had to drop my daughter by school. Met up with a many other parents. It occured to me though that I thought I was a mess. I hurt my elbow last month and am still struggling with it, can’t style my hair, putting on makeup is a chore and so on. Luckily I get to work from home today, don’t have to really make much of an impression. But it struck me that I was concerned about how I looked. Jeans, sweatshirt, no makeup, just freshly showered clean me. Nothing more. I ended this experience running into a fellow Mom heading to work. I said “no meetings for me today, just lots of computer work at home.” I then asked her about a paperwork deadline that she had assisted with for a client of mine. She quickly stated that “I am manager now, I don’t do that paperwork anymore!” I wonder where the heck this came from. My point was that here I was just me in jeans and sweater shirt and she is dressed to nines going to work as a “Manager” and good for her. I wonder though is our perceived value based upon the way we look or our position? Perhaps there is…and I think women are the biggest critics sometimes. I think we need to support eachother more.

  14. Laura Neff says:

    SO glad you and Caitlin are doing this! And it sparks so many thoughts. But mostly, it makes me remember when I stopped shaving in preparation for a year long cross-country trip my now husband and I made 10 years ago. I knew we’d be living much more “primitively” than we do normally, and I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up with shaving given the way we’d be living. So for a full year I did not shave, and when I stopped, that question of, “Wait, why am I doing this in the first place?” struck me like a thunderbolt. We don’t ask why, we just do. We believe that parts of ourselves are unworthy, because our culture’s identity of beauty tells us to. So we change them or remove them or hide them.

    When we came back from that trip, I eschewed my formerly-corporate life and found a great job in a sweet little retail store. In summer. In Charlotte. (Hello, sleeveless tops!) And after a while, I found I just wasn’t comfortable with the armpit hair. Aesthetically…not so pretty. (I don’t particularly like men’s armpit hair sticking out all over, either!) And, well, aroma sticks to it. So, I CHOSE to shave there, but for over 10 years now, my legs haven’t seen a razor. It’s still a little weird sometimes…that particular bit of what makes a woman “beautiful” is so ingrained. I’m 41 now, and less inclined to care what others think, but still…I do.

    So I’ll be particularly curious about your journey. Thanks to both of you for doing this and being so open about it. At the very least, I hope it sparks GREAT questions and GREAT conversation among you and your readers, and definitely with your son. Can’t wait for the journey!

  15. Oh, Molly, now you have me thinking!!!!! I can go sans make up MOST of the time but man, do I get comments if I’m without it. I love putting it on because it’s a fun art project each morning. But, what is my line… Where will I go or not go to please others. Is it my love of Hanes cotton granny pannies? It just might be. You’ve got me thinking, my beautiful friend. I will be following along for sure. I think I might write a blog about this and link to here.

  16. Amy Brewer says:

    very cool Molly!!! keep it comin’! love it all!!!

    you are brave. you are woman!

    love ya, amy

  17. Shannon Price says:

    This sounds like a journey for sure!!! For the past 3 years I have refrained from makeup, face cleansing and moisturizing products and gone strictly to the oil cleansing method which I only have to use once a month now because I have replenished my natural oils back to where they need to be on my face and I only need to rinse with water mostly and I never wear make up. A huge change from where I used to never leave the house without it all! I also cut out washing my hair with shampoo and conditioner about the same time. I have very long naturally curly hair and only use baking soda and water and some very mild sulfate, paraben free conditioner when needed and don’t have to wash everyday because I have undone years of damage that the products have done to my hair and scalp. I cannot tell you how encouraging this experiment was to me. It empowered me as a woman that it is up to me to define beauty and NOT be suckered into commericialism and what commerce feels is best for me. It has most definitely leaked into other areas of my life for sure. However, I will have to let you have the fun of the no shave adventure as that is a road I have not dared travel. LOL!! Good luck dear!!

  18. Sarah says:

    Congratulations, this is going to be well worth it!
    Plus, think how getting ready for bed will be that much easier.

    Sometimes I wear makeup, but not everyday. Last year I wore makeup to one of my practices and wouldn’t you know all my girls noticed. They said “look, coach Sarah has makeup on today!”, I was so embarrassed because I knew that was not the message we wanted to send to the girls. I don’t even know what I said to them but I didn’t come to practice wearing makeup again. I do think they notice and wonder…why?

  19. WOW! Way to go, you two! I think this is amazing and wonderful. MAJOR Rock stars!

    Warmest Regards, Whitley Adkins Hamlin
    http://www.thequeencitystyle.com
    ps-you project is BEYOND STYLISH in my books!

  20. Dolores says:

    Way to go!! Good luck on your journey!! I am one not to wear make up I don’t know why or at what point I stopped…….. maybe working as a fitness trainer and having 4 kids I never had time to put it on. And I wouldn’t put it on to go workout….. and then I just never started wearing it again …. but it was my husband that always told me you don’t need any:) So I never felt the need to since he was the only one that I had to impress….. and now if I do wear it for an occasion people will say wow you have make up on and I like Sarah feel almost embarrassed too…..

  21. David Stevens says:

    Men, too, are conditioned to find makeup, hair coloring, and shaving attractive in women. A hundred years ago it was not the same. My guess: television, but that’s too simple. Advertising in general has conditioned all of us. Good luck with your experiment, and let us know also how men react.

    • Oh David…thank you for dropping by. You wouldn’t believe how wonderfully receptive my male friends have been. I think it is because they know the real me…and that I’m in this to look deeply within myself…for the roots of my sensuality, sexuality and beauty.

      I really appreciate open-minded men who understand this. Thank you.

  22. Alison says:

    I’m really curious in the difference in reaction between men and women, and who becomes the harsher critic (although I recognize this is not the primary mission). From personal experience, I had a girlfriend who commented on my eyebrows when I was a bride’s maid in her wedding because I went through a stage refusing to pluck them. That hurt my feelings. I also grew up in the south and was begged by friends to allow them to do my make up because they claimed I’d be so pretty if I just tried a little. I would say that fear of reaction and rejection from others, specifically female peers, will at times drive me to present myself in a way that does not feel authentic. My solution was to move to a different part of the country where my personal values are more synchronized with the main stream values. However, I don’t want to fear diversity due to fear of judgement. I think and hope this will raise good discussion points for the road to self-acceptance and personal confidence.

  23. Wondering says:

    I’m interested in this project and really commend you for exploring this in your life. My mom has never been very into makeup and I really appreciate her example as it kept me from becoming too obsessed even though I lived in the South. I know that one of GOTR’s national sponsors is Secret, and that adds an interesting layer to this. Do you think this project might make you re-evaluate that sponsorship? Maybe this isn’t a conflict because this is your personal project instead of a GOTR project, but you are also the spokesperson for GOTR. Don’t get me wrong–I think ANY company that wants to give money to GOTR is great, so I honestly don’t mind the conflict–but I am interested in whether that had crossed your mind at all as a conflict or whether they are separate projects in your mind. Again, I commend you and I look forward to following your journey! You are an amazing and brave person!

    • Sarah…I am fairly convinced that when this is all said and done there are two “habits” I won’t give up…and that is deodorant use and shaving. I THINK I like these things because 1.) I perspire a lot and do have body odor associated with exercise and 2.) I THINK I like the way my legs feel better, smooth and I wear swimsuits alot…for exercise. I also know that the whole underarm thing…oh goodness…I’m not sure I will get past that EVER.

      I do know that when my children reached puberty…and got in the car after sports or playing with kids, deodorant was a conversation we definitely had. As a matter of fact our goal is NOT to be socially unacceptable. I may discover that skipping on the deodorant is something I won’t be able to adhere to the entire 60 days.

      This is simply a journey…to explore those things I choose and those I do not. In the end, it’s all about intention. Thanks for checking in.

      • Wondering says:

        Yes–I personally couldn’t picture my life without those two things (shaving and deodorant) because they make me feel good. They aren’t requirements for me to feel beautiful–but I DO need to feel clean for me to feel beautiful. I’ve been in a third world country without air conditioning and I felt so nasty all the time, not because of the lack of makeup but because I smelled. I just didn’t feel fresh! It will be interesting to see what you both decide. I totally understand the intention of your project…and I would also teach my children about deodorant :)

  24. Molly: It sounds knda like the intersecting of 2 very distinct paths (of many) that women are raised to buy into. “The Girlie Things” vs The Femminist ((in small part.) I have only spoken to you a handful of times but it is clear to me you have your own path. If I had to guess, if the nuggett of knowledge carried away from Naked Face, it will be to have been desensatized to what OTHERS expect. You don’t strike me as a woman who has any trouble following your own path when you want to do so. This may prove the suraceness of it all… Good juck Molly. jsb

    • John. I SO appreciate your comments…and you are right…I don’t strike others as someone who is sensitive to what others think of me…but in this arena…I’m not sure why…this is a little bit scary. Perhaps it is vanity… or is it conditioning? Is it that I have never known another way? I do find that the older I get the ego gets peeled back little by little…thanks for checking in.

  25. Lisa says:

    Molly, I’ve always thought you were beautiful, because who you are shows through. Get rid of all that external stuff, & you’ll be even more so.

  26. Deb Jung says:

    This is reminds me of a Women’s Studies class I took in 1981 :D I didn’t wear makeup then, and I don’t wear any now, unless you count tinted lip balm. When I had a friend who sold makeup, I bought some every 6 months whether I wore any or not. I threw a lot of stuff out every 6 months, so I stopped spending the money when he quit selling the stuff. My last foundation purchase was over two years ago. I’ve never seen the advantage of spending time I really didn’t have to paint my face to mimic the colors of sexual excitement anyways, but I wanted to support his dreams.

    Now, I do shave in the summer though. And I will cut my own hair on occasion. Every very few years, in October, I dye my hair pink for the fun of it. I don’t have time to wait around for nail polish to dry, so I don’t paint my nails. Finally, I really think that the 20-30 minutes spent primping in each morning could be better spent working, reading or exercising–which is what I do. Taking care of your body and your brain is really much more healthy than artifice in a bottle. dyj

    • Funny Deb…today at lunch I was with a male friend and he said…this sounds like Gloria Steinem and the bra burning of the 60′s and 70′s. I said it is…sort of…without the anger. Our desired outcome is to push women to examine WHY they do what they do and then make the decisions for themselves as you have done.

      Who knows…maybe I will dye my hair hot pink when all this is over!

  27. Nancy R says:

    Awesome project, ladies!! Enjoy the effortlessness that is involved. For the past year, I’ve gone without makeup 98% of the time and just enjoyed the simplicity. I even cut my hair short for the first time since 6th grade just to see what it felt like (easy and quick).

    On a more thoughtful note, I find that I “use” makeup. I use it when i present certain identities (facets of who I choose to be) to people. Mostly, I use makeup in business situations, when I know others expect me to look a certain way.

    And I know I could go without makeup in those situations without freaking out, but, if I truly admit it– I wear makeup (or try to “look good” to whatever the standard is) to grease the wheels of the interaction (pun intended) to make the outcome of the interaction meet my highest expectation or hopes for the interaction.

    Bottom line: I’m basically trying to manipulate people into the highest positive opinion of me, so that I can get that outcome/result/reaction I’m looking for. (Based of course, on all the usual, old boring, familiar fears and insecurities you mention. Who’s the boss of our brains? Our old fears and insecurities? Why do we keep reliving those? We do we keep re-creating those? Is it just neurons that don’t know how to fire any other way besides in fear and insecurity? What does it take for them to relax?)

    But, getting back to why I manipulate with props of makeup and –whatever– to leverage getting what I want. Because, after all, it is all about me, right?

    Wait, you mean I CAN have the experiences I want AND STILL BE TOTALLY ME? Blow my mind some more!

    Can’t wait to hear and follow along with your uniquely beautiful insights, Molly.

    Before it’s over, I hope to see the two of you sitting on the Today show couch on March 31, fully blooming and in love with your naked selves! How cool would that be!?

    And you can tell Anne Curry: “I’m the Boss of My Own Brain!!”

    Sending all the love and fun you can imagine for your journey!

    Your bosom buddy Nancy R in Illinois. Big Hug….

  28. Bonnie Bokman says:

    Hi, Mol -
    It’s funny, but I was just discussing cosmetics with some girlfriends last night. Even though I grew up in the South, I always had an aversion to make-up. (You probably remember how my mother — as a “public figure” — couldn’t even run out to pick up a gallon of milk without her “full face” on.)

    Fortunately for me, I spent all my college and grad school years in the North, where girls wearing make-up were looked down upon as less intelligent. (I remember my first day of grad school at Yale…I wore a preppy skirt and button-up shirt and was made to feel like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde by my classmates ;-P) I was then married to a man for ~20 years who hated make-up (or anything artificial) on women.

    Now at 50, I still forget to wear any make-up most days, and when I *really” want to look good I throw on lipstick and mascara. On New Years Eve, a girlfriend applied eyeliner on me for
    the first time in my life!

    Hugs,
    Bonnie B.

  29. Logan Dyer says:

    My daughter is four now, and since becoming a mom I have given a lot more consideration to how I live my life. I realize that I am someone’s role model now, every single day! Keeping this in mind has strengthened my belief that I don’t NEED to shave, wear makeup, put on deodorant, wear high heels or anything else I don’t want to do that supposedly makes me more attractive or feminine. I hope that you have a great time with your project! We are awesome just the way we are and it is our responsibility to instill this confidence in our daughters. My favorite sight in the world is my daughter playing outside, getting dirty and trying to catch lizards while wearing her princess crown and dress up skirt. Being a girl should be fun and without rules for femininity.

    Thank you for starting this conversation!

  30. So…in evaluating the day…I land here at its conclusion…grateful for all of you beautiful men and women who came here today and so graciously shared your comments. Teach me. Push me. GROW ME!

    I must admit I am completely exhausted, excited by the exchange and wondering on some level why this topic is so darn intriguing to so many. Is it because it frightens us somehow? Is it because it inspires or liberates us somehow? Is it because we recognize that perhaps by living with intention in this small realm of our existence…we might learn to live with intention in all areas of our lives? Mmmm…we will see. What do you think?

  31. Alissa Knuutila says:

    I really commend you and Caitlin for this. Over time during the past year, I stopped highlighting my own hair and very rarely wore make up. I still flat ironed, shaved, and wore sassy clothes on occasion. Over time though, I honestly started to feel gross. Maybe it was the media and social influence that made me feel this way. I think we do things because it feels comfortable to us. It is in our culture and we want to feel like we are normal and fit in. I think your experience will be an educational experience and I would love to follow up with you and how it goes. I imagine you could write a book or publish something academically from it.

  32. Kim Dever Johnson says:

    Molly, the other day I ran into an old friend and complimented her on how great she looked..that I loved her hair. She said “I went back to my natural color…it was too hard to keep up.” She went on to say that her younger sister’s commet was “Oh, I see that you’ve given up.” My old friend and I held each others glance..laughed and shrugged our shoulders. Without saying a word we both felt the sting of those words! I don’t think any woman wants the sign on their back that says “I have given up!” so we push forward even when we are exhausted…maybe we want to be different from the generation before us??? I am grateful that I have choices and for me I push forward for my health and because it makes me feel good. Best Kim

  33. Mollie says:

    Reading this makes me want to cry. Understanding how addicted I am to my beauty products and routines (& mine are SO streamlined compared to so many in our princess culture) makes me realise just how much is wrong with our society & culture. I don’t have the courage to go “whole hog” on such an experiment because I KNOW that people’s reactions to makeupless me would justify my worst fears about my real value to society. Kudos to you for doing it. I hope the movement will become big enough actually to initiate some change(s). Good luck & God bless!

  34. Joe says:

    My wife is 15 years older than me. I don’t care if she wears make-up or not. Would prefer she didn’t wear lipstick. She wears it because she says it makes her feels better. I never notice it, nor would I comment if I did. She is going to turn 70 this year and we’ve been together for 25 years. And yes, she is gorgeous and has been since I met her. I guess I’m saying that it should be up to the individual, whatever makes them feel best, it’s not for others to judge or comment on.

  35. Sally says:

    Read your about your project with interest. I like the idea of being intentional about things, thinking it through, and that includes appearance. If that is where this project leads you, that by shucking all beauty routines for awhile, you will discover which ones matter to you and which ones don’t, there is value in that. That being said, I have found many of the comments here….sad. We are not disembodied creatures, but highly visual beings. Looking our best matters. I frankly cannot understand women who do not make the effort to look as attractive as they reasonably- reasonably- can at any age. Everything can be taken to an extreme (four inch killer heels, endless plastic surgery, makeup routines that take hours..). The other extreme is a woman who does nothing to enhance herself, who says “this is the natural me and it is just fine”. If my husband were to decide to “go natural”- no more shaving, no more haircuts, let that old ear and nose hair flourish (it’s “natural” after all), my reaction would be YUK! And it would tell me that I don’t matter much to him. It is true that in many parts of the world women struggle just to keep body and soul together, that these issues are not even on their radar. If we are fortunate enough to live in a time and place where it is possible to devote some time and some resources to looking attractive, why would you not? Why would you not add to the beauty in the world in your own way? An attractively put-together woman of any age does that. A plain faced, hairy armpit “natural” chick does not.

    • Sally…you are hitting the nail on THE head for me in many ways. What is that line? I’ve been surprised by the huge number of responses I’ve received both publicly and privately from the women of the world who do not participate in ANY beauty ritual/habits whatsoever. There has been from some…an anger that I find interesting. ON the other hand…I have sensed that as well from those who have a strong sense of attachment to their beauty rituals….and then there has been everything in between.

      It’s that whole moderation thing…women have been adorning themselves and “beautifying” their bodies since Egyptian times.

      Thank you so much for your well-though-out thoughts. I’m just holding on to this roller coaster for 60 days and seeing where it ends up! :)

  36. Lauren in NH says:

    Love this challenge Molly! What’s most interesting to me is the link between our personal care rituals and the role we want to be perceived as playing in the world…I mean, like the stereotypes of not shaving or wearing deodorant may make us fearful of being pegged as a hippie, or femanatzi. I wonder if it’s deeper than even the fear of being “surface beautiful” and more a fear of being classified with groups that we think would make us ugly on a moral/personality/lifestyle level… When I lived in Africa I noticed that even the poorest men and women adorned themselves…make up, extensions, beads, colorful dress– It was the way people felt happier about life. We decorate ourselves no matter where we come from (and I think that’s an AWESOME reason to wear make-up and dye our hair…really for the fun of it) but adornment is also an important mark of our clanship…stepping outside that identification IS scary! I hope you’ll write about this aspect during your journey– you know, letting go of the attachment to how we want others to see us. Love you Molly, and can’t wait to see where this goes!

    • I know…I have a tattoo…a very small one but it is meaningful to me. And it was and is about adornment…honoring my body…celebrating it’s presence in the world. I will be interested to see how my feelings about my body change over this experience.

  37. flashallen says:

    What an awesome idea! As a 29 year old I’ve gone through phases of living my life how I want and living a life those around me would approve of. In high school I straightened my “I have a mind of my own” hair almost every day, wore makeup most of the time (though not a lot), and had a fairly balanced wardrobe-half of it was because I was comfortable, half of it was because I looked good and/or got attention from the boys.

    I then went to college, grad school and eventually worked in the sports fitness industry. I wore workout clothes/sweats most days of the week, even on my days off. Mascara was a daily ritual usually, but my hair was in a ponytail all the time in order to hide the frizz. I enjoyed actually looking like a girl Sundays for church, but was ready to change back into shorts and a T-shirt afterwards.

    And now…well, now I’ve not only learned to live with my hair, but embrace it. I can often be seen with it down, which results in a wind blown, hot mess kind of a look, but since that pretty much sums up who I am, I wear it with pride. I do shave, but get pretty prickly in between and if my boyfriend doesn’t like it, then he just doesn’t need to touch me for a couple days! Make up is still a daily ritual, but only eye makeup, somedays just mascara, and at times I still go out with nothing on my face. I do the eye makeup because I believe I have pretty eyes and like to accentuate them. However, my less than perfect, flawed skin has yet to see any makeup that would make it look more even, but makes me feel like I have a mask on.

    I’m okay going out in public in sweats, jeans and a t-shirt, shorts and a tank, or a jean skirt and cute top. I’ll even wear a dress on the occasional date night or to church. Makeup or no makeup, hair up or down, legs shaved or on day 3 of stubble (I swear it starts just hours after shaving!), I’m comfortable in my own skin. I take care of my body so it’ll last me a lifetime and if others don’t like it or think I can do better….well, forget them. As far as looking good for my boyfriend-he enjoys when I do dress it up, but also loves that I can be so comfortable when I’m dressed down.

  38. Amanda says:

    I love that you are doing this! I ran across your blog that a friend linked. It was interesting to hear the comments of the other woman in the group. I used to be a beauty consultant but made the switch to a more “natural” life style, more for health and simplicity reasons, and less for social statement. I am “poo free” and use the oil cleansing method for my face. I love it. My skin is actually healthier and I don’t feel the need for make up any more. I think it is hilarious the amount of “stuff” we apply to our selves to get the “natural” look. I do wear mineral makeup when going out for a special occasion, mostly to impress other people not particularly because I care about the way it looks. I am allergic to so much stuff I prefer not to wear anything. My husband prefers it as well. It is interesting how society affects the way we portray our selves. I think it is also interesting, when looking at why we dress up, do our makeup and hair, that I feel I do it more for the other woman around and their approval, not the approval of my husband, or society as a whole, but to impress the other woman. Very interesting. I look forward to reading the rest of your blog.

  39. Carilyn Bookr says:

    Piece of cake! After a few days, you’ll appreciate all the time you’re saving. And, you’ll probably realize that most people won’t notice whether you’ve spent three minutes getting ready for something or three hours. The expectations are usually in our own heads (and mirrors) — and not in others’.

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