February 8: Scotch Tape and the Naked Face Project

I’m a bit overwhelmed by it…the change in perception I’m experiencing.

I’m somewhere between wanting to cry (for reasons I don’t know) and bubbling over with joy.

I’ve got to first thank my Girls on the Run family.  You all know me.  We know each other.  When I started Girls on the Run 16 years ago, I knew deep in my heart that one day the program would impact millions of girls.  I also believed that changing the world was possible.  I’d changed my own small piece of it when I experienced a shift in my perspective when I got sober in 1993.

There was something very humbling about sharing my past.  It took me a long time to feel safe enough within my own thoughts, to share my story.   The fear of not being accepted, loved or valued was overwhelming…enough to keep me safe within my life-secrets.  But one of our core values at Girls on the Run is to lead with an open heart…and while I don’t believe it is necessary to air all our, what some might term as “dirty laundry” in public, I think there is a power in sharing our humanity, with those close to us.  So when I shared with my Girls on the Run family the story of my life, you received me with open arms, open hearts and a love like I had never known existed.

It is this sharing of our humanness that has struck me to my core, with this project.  To admit that something as seemingly unimportant as leaving the house withour curling our eyelashes or putting on red lipstick,. hits right to the core of our vulnerability.  I’ll admit that for some people, this seems laughable, but for many women (including myself) it’s embarrassing to admit that these things are hard to give up.

Being “pretty” has been an important part of my identity.  I’m well aware that dressing a certain way and doing it up has made my life easier in some ways.  As Jane, a woman I have known for years, said to me yesterday, “This is easy for you.  You’ve got nice features.   You are young.  I know I am not attractive and so I have to use make up to give my face some help.”

Jane is in her 70’s.   We talked for quite some time.  She talked a lot.  I got the sense that she wanted to be heard.  She talked about the men in her life and how “putting herself together” showed a level of respect for them.  “I think it’s important for a woman to be her prettiest.”

I heard her.

While at first the conversation may have been about make-up, it slowly evolved into something else.  It became an experience…a tender, loving series of flowing moments through which she could, for once, talk about being a single woman in her 70’s…talk about her fears around growing older, losing her “beauty,” fears of being alone and becoming invisible.

We got underneath all the BS, and saw something else in each other.  Something that has been there all along, but that is hard to find when we are trying so hard to prove our worth or look like we have it so together.

I’m beginning to see that for me and the Jane’s of the world,  make up (in addition to a number of other actions I take) has been like scotch tape…something to hold me together…to hold together the not yet wounded ego I’m afraid I might experience if I tell you the truth…that sometimes I’m scared or angry or not so together as I appear; that sometimes I yell at my children  when they don’t deserve it; that sometimes I want to sleep all day because I’m in a bad mood or someone has hurt my feelings; that sometimes I worry until I’m nearly sick about my teenaged children; that sometimes I’m afraid of not measuring up to the expectations I carry as the founder of an organization, an organization in the business of encouraging girls to be strong, empowered and real.

I know that I am not alone.  I know this because I’m human…and part of this human experience is, at one time or another in our lives, wrestling with our ego and finding balance between the human experience and the spiritual one.  It’s all beautiful…every minute of the process.  🙂

I’m sitting in a Caribou coffe shop and amazed by how long it has taken me to write this post.

I’ve been amazed by a lot of things lately…and for that…I am immensely grateful.

Have you ever been aware of going through some kind of mindset-shift or transformation in perspective?  What was it?  What happened?

(My co-traveler Caitlin is going through some of the same (but different) things I am.  Read about it at www.healthytippingpoint.com.)

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18 Responses to February 8: Scotch Tape and the Naked Face Project

  1. Abby says:

    You are amazing Molly! You are genuine, honest, and strong. Thank you for sharing! You are impacting me and many others. My favorite saying (started when I ran my first marathon) stay strong and believe!

  2. Angel says:

    I’ve just started reading your blog, but I’ve been a fan of yours and GOTR for a long time, even though we’ve never met and I’ve never had the opportunity to experience GOTR first-hand (I have 2 boys). Your musings over the past couple of weeks have sparked so many introspective thoughts of my own, and I want to thank you for that. Today’s post makes me want to drive around to all the Caribous in town to find you and give you a hug. That would be time-consuming, and perhaps a bit creepy, so I’ll have to settle for this virtual way of reaching out.

    Molly, I’m certain you already know this, but all of those fears and insecurities you expressed above are normal, natural, and in my opinion, universal. I experience all of those things regularly! Part of what makes you such a great role model for the girls you are trying to reach & inspire is your honesty. They should be taught that none of us is perfect, all of us suffer from self-doubt, everyone makes mistakes or deviates from the path sometimes, and that’s OKAY, it’s expected. What matters is that we don’t dwell in those dark places too long. That’s when we need to be lacing up our sneakers and heading out for a run, or purging our thoughts in a journal, or leaning on a friend for a venting session or even just a tight squeeze.

    It may also be when we head to a salon for a mani/pedi, or a cut & highlight, or a facial peel. For some people, those things are as healing as the run, the writing, the venting, or the hugging.

    I’m not sure it matters whether you’re a make-up wearer or not, the point is to find a “place” that feels comfortable for you. For me, that place involves shaving my legs daily, plucking the continually-erupting hairs that would be a unibrow if left unattended, considerable amounts of deodorant that never quite seem to get the job done, moisturizing religiously, and always having lip balm on hand. Anything else just depends on my mood, what I’m doing that day, and whether or not I feel the need for a little confidence boost.

    So consider yourself hugged, Molly. And know that there are LOTS of us out here who embrace you and all of your wonderful imperfections, no matter how scary it is to admit them.

    • AND THIS is what I’m finding so beautiful…at the core…we are all one in this…this human side. It’s just all part of the process isn’t it. Understand…I LIKE having these kinds of thoughts. They push me to go deeper.

      Now? What am I doing now? I’m waiting for the cable guy. From one extreme to the other wonderful extreme. 🙂

  3. Alice H says:

    Molly,

    I am so glad you are doing this project. It opens the conversation on what beauty is and how social mores influence us. My sister and I got into a conversation on what things we really wouldn’t want to give up — and the answers are so trivial: eyebrow waxing, lipstick… We really don’t need these things, but they make us feel like we look prettier.

    When I was in college in the 70’s, I stopped shaving my legs and arms. European women didn’t shave then; men were allowed to stop shaving and grow beards, so why did I have to shave? I probably went two years without shaving. At first it was uncomfortable and stubbly, but then when the hair got long enough, it was nice and soft. One of the most amazing sensations is the feel of wind blowing the hair on your legs! Pretty cool.

    When I got a job teaching, I had to fit the picture of what a teacher should look like, so I shaved, and tweezed my eyebrows, and wore a little make-up. Every winter, though, I would stop shaving my legs. Too much trouble, and no one would notice, anyway.

    Funny how all our beautification rituals are really driven by social expectations.

  4. Kris Pall says:

    You amaze me Molly…not just for this “experiment” but sheer ability to touch others at their core. To be so genuinely real in your empathy and care for others…is truly an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey and reminding us that we ALL have something beautiful inside!

    • Yep…we do have it don’t we? Believe it or not (and this CRACKS ME UP)…I’ve been thinking a lot about the show the Kardashians. I simply can’t imagine the world they live in. Whereas I might have been harshly judgmental, only two weeks ago…I feel as if I’m having a greater understanding of what they have to deal with…I just think if folks like that were given the opportunity (and maybe they are in private) to let their hair down (figuratively and metaphorically) they would. Wouldn’t we all?

  5. Greg Ward says:

    In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy said, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won”t any farther than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! That particular moral caused my to sit up and take notice. It’s very thought provoking and may apply in so many cases!

  6. fromcheaptherapy says:

    Molly,
    as i join you in this Naked Face project, i feel SO MANY of the nudges you’re getting through it. thanks (again) to you and Caitlin for leading so many of us over this holy cliff of … well, of seeing what happens when we rip off the MASKing tape.
    and hey – happy 19th birthday! here’s to progress – not perfection 🙂
    lisa

  7. Alex says:

    I am so very enthralled by this project and it has prompted so many thoughts for me this past week. One primary thought/question is how to talk about this whole subject w/ my children. This morning at the breakfast table, a fascinating conversation came up between my 8 yr old daughter and 6 yr old son. They were looking at a feature on Madonna on the cover of one of the paper’s sections. This is what they said:
    Daughter: Wow, Madonna is 53. I thought she was 51. She looks so much younger.
    Son: I thought she was younger too.
    Daughter: Yeah, I think it’s her make up. All pop stars wear make up.
    Son: Not all pop stars! Not Taylor Swift!!
    Daughter: Yes she does! She wears lipstick and blush!
    Me (trying so hard to suppress every impulse to intervene just yet b/c I want to hear their thoughts but then I break down and say,)
    Why do you think that pop stars wear make up?
    Daughter: Because it makes them look pretty.
    Me: So you have to wear make up in order to look or feel pretty?
    Daughter: No, I guess not. But if they don’t have it on…like if Madonna didn’t have it on…well then, (daughter gestures her hands at her face) she would look just like me.
    Me: Interesting point because guess what, you ARE beautiful and you have zero make up on!

    And then of course we had to dash to the school bus, but boy has this conversation been on my mind all morning. It is one that I want to keep having with my children, now and over the years, but I am grappling for the language to say what I want to say to them about this whole issue. I myself wear hardly any make up. (I didn’t even know my daughter knew the word “blush!”) But I will painfully admit that this project has made me recognize that I deeply value my Bobbi Brown eye cream and concealer!

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but in a nutshell, thank you for bringing this conversation to light and helping stimulate so much dialogue on the subject. Personally, I would love a blog which recommends some talking points/tips on having such discussions with our children.

    • Alex…That is actually a great idea. I was thinking today…and again being brutally honest…how unsexy and unattractive I feel. I’m traveling today and when I put it on…the shoes, the make up..the professionally but mildly form-fitting clothes…I feel like I’ve got it going on! But today I don’t. I’m in flat shoes, jeans and a running t shirt.

      I was thinking today about how I’ve somehow woven my “feeling attractive” into what I wear. Again…I’m just observing…no conclusion here…just confused right now.

      That got me to thinking about how we, as adults, could help transition girls from girlhood to womanhood by helping them to appreciate and OWN their sexuality without needing additional “things” to do that.

      Anyway…I’m just rambling. I’ve been rambling a lot lately. 🙂

    • Kris Pall says:

      I totally understand where you are coming from Alex! I have 3 girls ages 7, 8 and 11. I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis and it’s always SO very interesting to me how people react when I do wear makeup and dress up. It’s almost embarrassing how some of the women go on and on about how nice I look. Anyway, I always tell my girls that the mirror only shows you part of the story because the mirror can’t reflect the OTHER beauty…the TRUE beauty…the beauty that is on the inside. And that’s the beauty that lasts forever…it never needs makeup, hairspray or fancy clothes. I tell them this but I also know that we live in a culture that highly prizes it…so I guess in my opinion we can’t ignore all culture b/c we do generally want our kids to acclimate well but like with all other things…everything in moderation…including external beauty and fashion. Who knows if this will stick with them…but at the very minimum I can know that they didn’t get their obscure body image from me and that they might remember it deep in their hearts. Good luck to all of us and thanks to Molly and Caitlin for creating a conversation!

      • Alex says:

        Kris– i love this reply of yours and am going to try to commit to memory your words about the “OTHER beauty” — I love that explanation! Thank you for helping me in my efforts with my children.

  8. Lauren W. says:

    What a beautiful post..

  9. Kelsey Evans says:

    I have just started to read through your blogs a number of then have put me in tears your ideas and thoughts about people are truely beautiful. (:
    ” To have beautiful eyes always look for the beauty in others
    To have beautiful lips speak only words of kindness
    To walk with poise walk knowing that you are never alone. ”
    Audrey hepburn
    Thanks so much for the inspiration I hope you realize how great of an Impact you are making on the world.

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