I am only a few days in…and am trying to determine a rhythm, if you will…a way to organize these posts in a way that makes sense.

Several things are becoming quite apparent:

The bigger question of WHY we wear make up is truly THE experiment.  This struck me yesterday in a very personal way.  I spoke at Converse College on the topic of Social Entrepreneurship and toward the end of my presentation briefly touched on the questions around beauty and gender being asked by the Naked Face Project.  I shared that this was the first time IN MY LIFE, I had every been in a professional setting without make up. The room went totally silent.  One young man in the back…Andrew…raised his hand and said, “So you’re tellin’ me…this is the first time you’ve ever stood up in front of a group of people in a professional setting without make up.  Ever.”

“Yes,” I responded. He paused…the entire room was looking at him and then he said.

“That says something.”

For several minutes after that…I lost my audience.  They were all mulling around in their own minds…what that said or meant.  Honestly, the further I get into this…I realize that it will take some time for me to figure out what that means.

I do know that it means I’ve been mindlessly applying make-up…without ever asking WHY?  I’ve just done it…and for someone “in the business” of teaching girls to follow their own hearts and minds and not give into peer pressure…I think maybe, I have been, inadvertently giving in to peer pressure when it comes to these beauty rituals…my whole life.  I’m not suggesting these are bad.  I’m just trying to determine whether I have done them by choice or “just because that’s what a woman does.”

Now understand…I’m not judging myself.  I’m just noticing.  My mother did it…my sisters did it.  I remember fondly one time when my sister “did my make up” and “did my hair Farrah Fawcett style” for a middle school dance I was going to…I didn’t like it and so removed it before I went.  It just didn’t feel like me…but the ritual of going through these motions…her tender touch and attention to my face…the laughs we shared as she gently rolled my hair up into the heated curlers…I do remember this as being something special.

I was always fascinated with my mom’s beauty rituals.  Mary was the most authentic woman I knew…and even though she has passed away…I consider her still to be the most authentic woman I’ve ever known. And funny…I have very strong memories of her in the bathroom, applying her make up.

I used to always marvel at how she would, in public, pull out her mirror compact and her bright red lipstick…and with what appeared to be a great deal of force and detail…paint her lips with the red stuff…particularly after a meal.  She was very public about this.  The waiter might walk over to the table…as she would be going through that process and I remember her hands moving from her mouth to either side, her wrists slightly bent, compact in one hand and lipstick in the other and her responding to his query…”Thank you, but no dessert.  We will just have the check now.”  And then she would return to the task at hand.  Liptstick to lips.

I do know that there have been a number of things that have come up for me and that ARE coming up for me that frankly…I’m embarrassed to write about.  I know I eventually will, but currently it’s hard for me to admit that I am vain in certain areas when it comes to my body, my face and my hair.  I worry that I will be seen as shallow somehow…but I also know that I’m not a shallow person…so again we circle back around to perception and being concerned with what others think.  This is how peer pressure works.

Social norms are necessary for a society to survive.  We can’t ALL be doing what we want ALL the time.  We must have rules and laws that determine many of our actions.  We also have many indirect social norms which determine how we navigate life…with the people around us.  I spoke yesterday at my speaking engagement with a woman who is VERY involved and connected in her community at a high professional level.  For her to fall outside the social norms for dress, make up and hair, would be a much larger statement than the one I am making and could potentially lead to her professional demise.  Women in television or in the entertainment industry…what would happen if they “opted out” of  participating in their make-up rituals.  Might they be passed over for someone who did wear it?

I’m just observing now…not coming to ANY conclusions.  Yesterday someone asked me what I hoped to create from or DO with “The Naked Face Project.”  I told him that I simply have no expectation.  This is just an experiment for me to see what comes up, when I buck the social norms…what might reveal itself…what “other side” is there waiting for me to find when I quesiton the status quo.

Maybe when this is all over, I will color my hair pink…I don’t know!  I just know that for now…I’m trying to stay very, very present.

Yesterday at my speaking engagement I told a poignant story about a little girl named Emily.  I realized yesterday AS I told the story that I think it was EMILY who got me thinking about all of the why’s when it comes to fashion, make-up and my other beauty rituals.  I recently shared it at a Charlotte TEDx Presentation…and will share it with you here now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw8hnAq0wbQ

I hope you enjoy it…Thanks for stopping by.  (To hear where my friend Caitlin is in all of this please stop in at her blog at www.healthytippingpoint.com.)

Please feel free to leave your comments.  I enjoy spirited conversation on any topic.