Last night, while my daughter sat in the living room and did her homework, I pulled out all of my beauty “stuff” and put it on a small table in the center of the room.  I was surprised at all that was there.  There were a lot of lotions…lotions that…smell good, reduce wrinkles, have sparkles.  There were lotions for my face, lotions for before I work out, lotions for feeling sassy, lotions for my feet.  The make up made up only a tiny portion of the whole lot.

Hair “stuff” also took up a lot of space.  I was surprised by what was there. (So were a lot of you that saw it on my Facebook page.)  I put most of it back in the large workout bag it came from and put it in the attic.  One guy last night on my Facebook page, joking with me (there’s been a lot of that) said that it would ignite into flames this summer…the chemicals in each of them highly flammable.  I responded with “Burn Baby Burn.”  The rendition of that disco song plays humorously in my mind this morning.

What was left?  A hair brush, shampoo, a bar of soap, my hair dryer, toothpaste and toothbrush.  I have a teeny tiny gym bag now…it weighs next to nothing.  I’m laughing now as I write.

Caitlin and I have both been overwhelmed with the response to www.thenakedfaceproject.com.   In the scheme of the world order this doesn’t matter…but I think we both realize that we have clearly touched something that matters…on a very personal level…to many, many people.

A few initial observations:

1.  The women who do not wear makeup, shave, or participate in any kind of beauty ritual really do exist in the world…and I was pleased to have them write to me in droves!!!!  These are women who, for a multitude of reasons have gone completely natural.  A few expressed a cultural kind of anger at the whole beauty system, but the majority of these women do this because they simply find it more comfortable and like the freedom that comes with not worrying about it.  I have noticed that the majority of these fabtastic women, openly admitted to not having jobs which required that whole “buttoned up thing.”

2.  On the contrary, you can’t believe the number of women who wrote, with a great deal of emotion, about their experiences in the workplace where they have felt tremendous pressure to appear professional and that includes, as much as it does business attire, a business face.  There was a concern by many that they would be seen as unprofessional and taken less seriously…associated with some kind of feminazi subset of folk.

3.  I think what has moved me the most have been the open hearts and honest to goodness LOVE coming in my direction.  This has shown up in two very distinct ways:

a.  The encouragement from women and men has been overwhelming. (This is where a lot of men have come into the picture) So many folks have sent emails and made posts reassuring me that I am beautiful just the way I am. The tenderness and love with which those messages have been shared has left me at times nearly breathless.  And I realize now as I write, that I know cognitively that I am beautiful…for the actions I take everyday.  I know this…in my head..YES…I understand…but if I’m completely honest with you…those small glances  I receive as I walk into a room or down the airport corridor…when I’ve got on my gameface and I feel “ALL THAT”…those small strokes to my ego feel good.  And so I wonder how all of that will play out.   I’m jus’ sayin.”

b.  The open hearts who have shared THEIR struggles with body image, beauty, sexuality and relationships…these really get me.  So many of you…oh you beautiful, beautiful souls!!!!  Exposing your vulnerabilities and admitting that all of this terrifies on some very deep level.  THIS is powerful stuff.  POWERFUL!  I just invite you to keep going…go deeper…see what beauty really does exist down underneath all those layers!

4.  There have been several other “threads” that have been revealed over the last two days and those are (without going into more detail…because the detail will be coming up in future pieces):

a.  A lot of women expressed the importance of moderation as a lifestyle, not just in their beauty habits, but in all things.

b.  A sense of humor.  I’ve visited a number of other sites where the conversation got “going” and the exchange between women and men was downright hilarious.  Unibrows, waxing, high heels, tight skirt mishaps, fear of beards emerging on their faces (both by men and women :)),

But I think the most pervasive message that has been shared…and this says a lot about those who follow my blog and who are a part of the life I live, was about the power of the question WHY.  It isn’t about the make up or the lack of it.  It isn’t about what beauty habits we will do and won’t do.

It’s about WHY?  Why do we wake up every morning and do the things we do?  Why do we wear make up?  Why do we wear high heels?  Why do we think that certain types of clothing “make us sexy.”  Men were as engaged in this conversation as the women.  “Why do I think certain body types are sexy?  Why do I think a certain facial feature is beautiful?”

There is a one-layer answer to that…but go with me for a minute.  Take on the curious mind of an 8 year old girl…and see where this goes.

8 year old girl:  So, remind me again.  Why do you wear make up?

Adult:  Well, like I’ve said.  I think it is fun.

8 year old girl:  I don’t understand.  So how is wearing make up fun?  Explain that to me.

Adult:  Well…I don’t know why exactly.  Maybe it’s not really fun, its just something I do everyday.

8 year old girl:  But if you do it everyday, why do you do it?

Adult:  Well…I think it enhances my appearance.  When I wear mascara or eyeliner it makes my eyes stand out.  They pop.  The color stands out more.

8 year old girl:  And why does having your eyes pop matter?  Why does having the color stand out matter?

Adult:  Mmmm.  I dunno, I think it makes me look prettier, more appealing?

8 year old girl: But I guess I don’t get it.  Why does having eyes that pop or that stand out more, make you look prettier and more appealing?  Why do you think that?

Adult:  Well, uh,

Conversation stops here because the big WHY comes.  Why do we think certain things we do will make us prettier…more beautiful.  And the even BIGGER WHY?  Why does being beautiful matter?  Is it about power?  Is it about success?  Is it about fear?  And may I just say it again…is it about power?  And the even BIGGER BIGGER WHY?  Why does having power matter?  Come on my friends…I could keep going…:)

And so I’m not here to suggest one way or the other about where or why we have our views on beauty…but I guess what I’m already seeing…is that this big WHY can be applied to EVERYTHING I do.

This whole “project”…is quickly showing me…that’s its not about which beauty ideal is right or wrong, or what beautiful is…it’s about how I came to have  beliefs about anything.  How many years and years of conditioning have led me to believe that “eyes that pop” or “certain body types” are more beautiful.  Is it fact that eyes that pop are more beautiful or is this simply my being told (and sold) this, decade after decade after decade.  Is our sexuality enhanced by how we dress and/or how our body appears or is that simply something we’ve been conditioned to believe time and time again.  And where does power play into all of this?  Have we been also conditioned to think that a major source of our power comes from our beauty?  And even greater still…conditioned to think that power matters in the first place?

What other areas of my life am I SO conditioned to see a certain way that I do no even realize there may be another way.  My views on single parenting, raising teenaged children, ideal partners, marriage, not-marriage, political beliefs, party affiliation, racial/ethnic/socioeconomic groups and my views of them…how much of my whole day to day experience simply slips by because I’ve never asked myself the question WHY?  Why I believe, think and act in certain ways?  I think this conversation around make-up, beauty, age and body-stuff may just be the tip of the iceberg.

We shall see.  I do know that I’m ready to settle in on this.  Get going.  I had my last shave last night at 11:30, thoroughly washed my face and lovingly placed the gym bag in the attic.

Here we go, brothas and sistas!  This is going to be awesome!  (Don’t forget to visit Caitlin’s take on all this.  Her website is www.healthytippingpoint.com.)