The Naked Face Project: The Final Stretch, March 25, 2012

Alright…so this may turn a little dog and pony show.  Caitlin and I swore we wouldn’t go into GREAT detail about the physical changes we were undergoing as a result of going totally natural for sixty days…but I have to admit…in this last week I’m beginning to actually enter a stage of sorrow at the project coming to a close.

It’s just been so physically LIBERATING (I’ve spent the majority of posts discussing the emotional and mental liberation that has come with this) to have an excuse to go without my daily beauty habits…physically liberating in a number of ways:

1.)  The amount of worry in making sure I’ve got “everything I need” when I travel has literally reduced the amount of getting-ready-to-travel-time by many minutes.  This also has applied to just getting ready in the mornings both at home and at the gym.  Throw my clothes (which have been generally the same as well, jeans or slacks, nice shirt, flats) and I’m off.

2.)  My skin has never looked healthier.  People have even remarked at how healthy my skin looks.  There is a natural color on my face that is, as far as I’m concerned, just as good as the cosmetically blushed one.

But humorously there are a few things I HAVE found that I am really, really ready to be done with…

1.)  I’m ready to remove the body hair!  (Okay dog and pony show always gets a rumbling anytime Caitlin and I talk body hair!)  The truth is…I actually prefer the way my legs look when they do not have hair.  Whether this has been socialized into my view of what is attractive or not…I don’t know.  I just know I prefer being “sans hair.”

What’s funny though as I write…is this kind of weird sorrow I have at removing it. (Oh geez…am I actually writing about this?)   It’s like a natural part of me is gone.  I didn’t know what purpose body hair served until I had it.  It’s like a sensual stimulating system.  I could literally feel any wind or movement of air nearby UNDER my skin, thanks to the hair follicles being stimulated.  There was something about that…that had (and has) me feeling very connected to nature.  Nature girl…:)  (Speaking of “nature girl.”  Granola is here to stay…even my eating habits have undergone a change since I started all of this.  Nourishing my body has become critically important as opposed to “fueling it.”  Nourishing has a more nurturing quality.  More to come at another time.)

2.) And as far as underarm hair…it will be gone.  Prefer it absent as well.  I’m past the being self-conscious of it…got over that about three weeks ago.

3.)  I’ve highlighted my hair since I was sixteen or seventeen years old.  I was very much a natural blonde when I was young and by high school it was a light blonde/brown.  I started using lemon juice in the summers and by my sophomore year in college I was chemically treating it.  I did go a brief period without chemically treating my hair when I was pregnant with my kids…and back then, when the dinosaurs roamed as my daughter likes to mention, I didn’t have any gray.

Well…there is a lot of it now…and I’m totally psyched and excited to see what color my hair REALLY is.  The liklihood of returning to highlighting or chemically treating it is very slim.  Of course, I may change my mind in another few years, but right now, I’m loving the natural color and loving just showing up with what I got…a kind of very light brown with quite a bit of gray “salted” throughout.

The greatest result of all of this…and it has been life changing for me…is this just inherent love and respect I have for my body, my skin, my hair…my eyes, my mouth, how I show up in the world, just as I am.  I am truly appreciative and grateful to my body and the work it does for me as I navigate this journey we call being human.  My body provides for me a bridge, if you will, between the journey inward and the physical world around me.   The sense I’m having is very hard to describe…but it feels as if I’m ALL in…all of me is here…present…available to the world…to serve, enjoy, have some fun and do whatever it is I’m supposed to do, while I’m human.

I have a sense (although everyday my view on things changes) that when this is over, every morning when I’m getting ready for work, play, workout, time with my kids, a date, a speaking appearance WHATEVER the day brings, I will, with intention, choose how ALL of me wants to show up.  Whether that includes make up or not, will depend on a whole host of variables, but I know that I will evaluate each situation and determine what will allow me to BEST BE PRESENT…all of me, real, authentic and available to bring the BIGGEST ME, the most AWESOMEST (I know that isn’t a real word, but I like it anyway) ME, the SOUL OF ME to the situation.

I won’t use any products to “fix” my face, “delay aging,”  “make me look younger, or “produce flawless skin” and/or enhance what I already have or am…because (and here is the liberating and coming home to myself part) none of it needs fixing…nothing is broken…nothing is ugly.  The illusion that my body isn’t good enough, young enough or “right” enough is just that…an illusion and something I no longer buy into nor will I give any energy to.  I simply won’t do it because it’s all a lie.  A big fat lie.  All of it.

This also means, I  won’t use my appearance to manipulate, steer or try to “win” someone over. I will own who I am, accept me as I am and in doing so create a space for others to own who they are, be as they are and know that they are safe in doing so.

Who I am doesn’t change, with my appearance.  How I choose to present myself is up to me.  I’m not tied, anymore, into illusions so often presented by the advertising tactics of the cosmetic and fashion industry or our culture in general,  that who I am and the WORTH of who I am IS in anyway tied to my appearance, my age and/or my body.  How I choose to appear…show up…present myself CAN be an expression of who I am, but my worth as a human being has absolutely nothing to do with it.

There is great irony in all of this.  Appearance in the human world cannot be avoided.  We see, we look, we show up physically.  But whether I choose to see my appearance as a measure of my worth OR as one of MANY fabulous avenues to joyfully express who I am…are two very different approaches.

This TED talk was recently shared with me by a friend and I don’t know how I missed it.  Aimee captures, very eloquently, how  empowering “owning” our bodies (and this includes of course, our skin, our faces, our hair etc.) can be.

Thoughts on this?  There are no wrong or right approaches…I’m just learning what is right for me.  Complex conversation.  Care to join in?

3 thoughts on “The Naked Face Project: The Final Stretch, March 25, 2012

  1. Molly, I have ( other than the shaving part) always been doing the naked face thing. My ” makeup” bag consists of mascara and lip glass. And that’s only if I’m going ” out” somewhere really fancy. The weird thing is that sometimes I do feel underdressed because I don’t put my face on, weird , huh? I have actually never liked the way makeup feels on my face, I feel suffocated . I have never colored my hair, other than maybe some henna treatments ( mostly because I loved the smell) about twenty years ago. I have people tell me ” I like what you’re doing to your hair,” which is odd, because all that I am ‘doing’ to it is washing it, combing it, and occasionally cutting it, i.e. I have just been letting it turn gray- and it does look pretty cool, letting God do His work on me. I do admit, that recently having age spots on my face is troubling me and I do sometimes want to cover them, but can’t seem to get around it it. The only time I actually see them is when I see a photo of myself.
    I guess my point is that I have never worn the mask. I have been a naked face girl for my whole life! ( of course , I’ve never have to be in front of crowds and on TV like you have ). Welcome to the club!

    1. Cathy…and this is where the conversation gets so RICH for me. Caitlin and I were talking about it today…why do some women get pulled into the belief that their appearance is the only place where their worth is found…where appearance is so important that all else seems to fall by the wayside.

      I’ve considered myself a middle of the ground kind of gal on that…but this whole project has in a way…forced me to see how insidious this whole message around worth and appearance has been socializied, even in my small and fairly moderate way.

      The quesiton is…where does this become troubling for a girl/woman and when does this begin to play havoc on her mental/emotional health…I mean, girls cut themselves, starve themselves, drink and use drugs, overdose and literally DIE trying to fit this cultural norm…women go their whole lives without ever knowing their own worth…and this isn’t just here in the US…but it manifests in so many other ways in other parts of the world…look at what’s happening to women in so many nations…the social injustices.

      How do we prevent this…I don’t know, but I do know that I won’t give up…until I’ve exhausted every ounce of my soul in the trying.

      If this is, by the way, the Cathy Miller that walked me through some early times in sobriety…I love you.

  2. A comment on body hair: I’ve been an infrequent shaver for about 12 years now. For the first few years, I didn’t shave at all. For the past several years, though, I’ve shaved May–Sept and gone hairy for the rest of the time.

    I loooove feeling the breeze on my legs with hair. It’s something I never knew I was missing out on before I stopped shaving. Now, when I shave my legs for the first time of the season, my legs feel a bit numb against my clothing and in the wind. Also, without the evaporating and lubricating power of underarm hair, my pits feel sticky, damp, and chafed until the skin there toughens up a bit and I get used to the feeling of sweat lingering on my skin.

    Shaving in the summer is a compromise. My legs look foreign to me without the hair, but they’re wonderfully anonymous in public places. Hairy legs draw unwanted attention. People think I’m trying to make a political statement by not shaving (really, the only statement I’m making is that I don’t mind hair, and I find razors to be a waste of time). And while I somewhat enjoy the incongruence of makeup, coiffed head hair, and body hair (it short-circuits people’s brains), in formal situations involving skirts and heels, it’s nice to have bare legs now and then.

    Anyways, kudos for this project. Young girls will notice, and they’ll learn that shaving *is* a choice that they can make–or not make–for themselves.

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